This week, the Supreme Court of Canada unanimously ruled for freedom of religion, against irrational fear.

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.

"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, thereƂ’s 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.
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.

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.


Steeped Tea said...

"And, personally, I love to see those annoying parents who try to micromanage their kids' environments get pushed back a little."

As a school teacher I see a lot of parents trying to do this. I agree with your statement here - I love to see it too.

James Redekop said...

My mother was a highschool teacher, and one of the biggest problems she faced was parents who wanted the whole school system revamped to favour their own kids (at the expense of everyone else's kids). Up to and including grading standards, of course.

laura k said...

My mom was a grade-school teacher, and she faced the same issues. It's gotten much worse since she taught, though. So many baby-boomer parents want their kids to live in a risk-free world, where they'll never fall, and never fail. (And often, never be told "no".)

It's a generalization, of course, and I don't know if it applies as much in Canada as in the US.

Granny said...

We have a fair sized Sikh community in a town about 7 or 8 miles from here. It was an issue there because of the "zero tolerance" policy which even extended to nail clippers.

Except for a small furor after 9/11 when people somehow couldn't tell the difference between a Sikh and a Muslim (not that it should have mattered anyhow, it was racism either way) the Sikhs have been here forever and are highly respected. In this case I don't think it was a racial or religious thing, just an overreaction by a zealous school district. Or I could be wrong. I can't get into their minds; just their public statements.

They reached a compromise on a facsimile knife. Not perfect but something.

laura k said...

The cases I heard about it US seemed more like overzealousness than racism, too - but there could be an overlap of motives.

I always wonder why people think something called "zero tolerance" can ever be good. Kids have been busted in school for carrying Advil. Common sense goes completely out the window.

Granny said...

Agreed about zero tolerance. We tend to go a little nuts down here. One girl was suspended for giving another girl a Midol (not in this town but it made the news somewhere).

And I was serious about the nail clippers (not the tiny shears, clippers). I think they're confiscated upon boarding planes as well.

laura k said...

I think it's the Midol story I was thinking of. It got a bit of publicity.

Re the nail clippers, we know you're not kidding!