Sikh students cannot be barred from carrying the ceremonial dagger called the kirpan, which everyone baptized in the Sikh faith are required to wear at all times.
The Supreme Court decision reverses a Quebec court ruling which supported schools that had banned the kirpan. There has never been an attack with a kirpan, in any Canadian school.
March 2, 2006: The Supreme Court of Canada rules 8-0 that a total ban of the kirpan in schools violates the Charter of Rights because it infringes on the Charter's guarantees of religious freedom. But it does allow school boards to impose some restrictions on the carrying of kirpans to ensure public safety.I congratulate Multani, who saw this battle through to the end. The conflict started when a parent noticed Multani's kirpan on a playground when he was 12; he's now 17. His tenacity and patience won a victory of Sikhs, for visible minorities, for religious and personal freedom. He struck a blow against xenophobia and paranoia. And, personally, I love to see those annoying parents who try to micromanage their kids' environments get pushed back a little. But that's just me.
"Religious tolerance is a very important value of Canadian society," Justice Louise Charron writes in the unanimous decision. "A total prohibition against wearing a kirpan to school undermines the value of this religious symbol and sends students the message that some religious practices do not merit the same protection as others."
The high court says if the kirpan is sealed and hidden under clothes, thereÂs little chance that students could use it as a weapon. "There are many objects in schools that could be used to commit violent acts and that are much more easily obtained by students, such as scissors, pencils and baseball bats," writes Madam Justice Charron.
Gurbaj Singh Multani, now 17, says the ruling will help other orthodox Sikhs now in schools. "Now that we've won the case, kids like me won't have any problems anymore," he tells reporters.
The CBC News website has a timeline synopsis of the entire kirpan case, and here's another look at it from a religious tolerance website.