WSO Assists Student Barred From Wearing Kirpan in LSAT

Ishwer Singh BasraIshwer Singh BasraVancouver (January 28, 2014):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada has successfully assisted a Sikh student barred from wearing his kirpan into the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). 

Ishwer Singh Basra, an amritdhari (initiated) Sikh, was scheduled to write the LSAT on September 27, 2014.  Upon arriving at the test centre in Burnaby BC, Ishwer Singh's kirpan was spotted by a proctor.  Despite being explained its significance, the proctor said the kirpan would not be permitted in the test centre.  The proctor then proceeded to call the Law Society Admission Council (LSAC), the body that administers the LSAT, and said that there was a student carrying a "knife" and insisting it was for religious purposes.  After a brief phone call, the proctor reiterated to Ishwer Singh that his "knife" would not be allowed.

Ishwer Singh was given the option of either removing the kirpan and being allowed to write the test or forfeiting the exam and writing another day in which he would once again be told to remove his kirpan.

Remembering Rajni Kothari: Author of 'Who Are the Guilty?'

Today we remember Shri Rajni Kothari, who passed away today in New Delhi at the age of 86.  Kothari was well known and respected for his work in the fields of human rights, political science and public service.  For the Sikh community, Kothari will be best remembered for raising his voice for justice in the case of the 1984 anti-Sikh genocide.  As the then President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, he had the fortitude and courage to write a forthright and probing report on the events of November 1984 which continues to be one of the most reliable accounts of what happened.  The report “Who Are the Guilty?” gave a description of the massacres that took place and was a damning indictment of those politicians who orchestrated the violence.  

We post below an article written by Kothari about the 1984 Genocide.  Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time.  

WSO Condemns Racist Vandalism of Edmonton Gurdwara

Edmonton (January 9, 2015):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada condemns the racist vandalism of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara in south Edmonton.  Two phrases, including “Leave Canada” were found spray-painted on the outside of the gurdwara today. 

The WSO has been in contact with members of the Sri Guru Singh Sabha gurdwara and offered its support and assistance in dealing with this incident. 

The WSO’s Alberta Vice-President, Tejinder Singh Sidhu said, “these sort of incidents are born out of ignorance and fear and we feel the best way to deal with them is to educate and reach out to those in the community who may not know who Sikhs are. The vandals would have made better use of their time if they simply went inside the gurdwara, asked a few questions and enjoyed the free meal available to all visitors.”

WSO Calls on India to Follow Acknowledgment of 1984 Genocide with Vigorous Prosecutions

Ottawa (December 30, 2014):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada has written to Indian Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh, welcoming his acknowledgement of the killing of Sikhs in November 1984 as a genocide and calling on him to follow up his announcement with investigations and prosecutions of those responsible for orchestrating and carrying out the killings.

WSO Writes to Indian PM Calling for Release of Sikh Prisoners

Ottawa (December 29, 2014):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada has written to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, calling for the release of Sikh prisoners who have served their minimum mandatory sentences in Indian prisons. 

Sikh activist, Bhai Gurbaksh Singh, has been on a hunger strike at Lakhnaur Sahib in Haryana since November 14th, to draw attention to this issue.  He had undertaken a similar hunger strike last year.

As Bhai Gurbaksh Singh’s hunger strike continues, his health has reached a critical stage and WSO President, Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill has called on Indian Prime Minister Modi to work towards the release of the Sikh prisoners, some of whom have been held for well over 20 years.  

Dr. Shergill wrote, “the Sikh community in India, Canada and across the world is deeply troubled by the deteriorating health of Bhai Gurbaksh Singh and trusts that you will take prompt action to release these Sikh prisoners who have completed their minimum sentences.”

CBC Reports False & Malicious Allegations Against WSO

(December 11, 2014)  The World Sikh Organization of Canada would like to correct recent reports that it has endorsed candidates or is involved in nomination battles in the Liberal Party of Canada.

A CBC report stating that the WSO is involved in the backroom battles among warring Liberal Party members is not only inaccurate, it is defamatory. Other media outlets are requested to contact the WSO before repeating and spreading this misinformation. Allegations that the WSO is linked to, endorses, or supports any form of violence are false and malicious.

WSO: Celebrating 30 Years

December 2014 commemorates a special milestone. The WSO of Canada was founded on Dec 2, 1984.  For 3 decades we have been the voice of Canadian Sikhs. Through your invaluable support, we have helped shape Canadian law and culture, making this country one of the best places on earth.  As we reflect upon the past, we are reminded of the incredible progress that we have made, and the challenges that lie ahead in an increasingly interconnected world.
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A Soldier's Uniform: A Canadian Sikh Perspective

By Mukhbir Singh (WSO VP for Quebec and Eastern Canada)

Remembrance Day has particular significance for Canadians this year as we remember not only the sacrifices of soldiers who died in the World Wars but also those soldiers who recently died in the line of duty.  Canadians were shocked by the attacks last month on Canadian Forces members Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent who died after being struck by a vehicle in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who was gunned down while standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.

But as a Sikh, what struck a nerve with me was that the two Canadian soldiers who were attacked and killed, were targeted due to their uniforms.  Canadian soldiers as a result, were encouraged not to wear their uniforms in public. 

First Turbaned Sikh Woman in Canadian Navy a Milestone: WSO

MS Wanda McDonaldMS Wanda McDonaldOttawa (October 29, 2014):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada has helped Master Seaman Wanda McDonald become the first Sikh woman to wear the turban while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN). 

McDonald, a Sonar operator based out of Halifax Nova Scotia, joined the RCN in 1997 and became interested in the Sikh faith three years ago.  After deciding to become an initiated or amritdhari Sikh, she requested permission to wear the turban on duty. 

The WSO regularly provides information to the Canadian Forces with respect to Sikh practices and articles of faith. When McDonald made her request to wear the turban, the WSO was once again consulted and provided information and advice on the significance of the turban to both Sikh men and women. 

The Canadian Forces now allow both Sikh men and women to wear turbans and the Sikh articles of faith while serving. 

WSO Statement on Ottawa Shootings

Sgt. at Arms Kevin Vickers being recognized by WSOSgt. at Arms Kevin Vickers being recognized by WSOOttawa (October 23, 2014):  The World Sikh Organization of Canada is saddened and shocked by yesterday's terrorist attacks in Ottawa.  Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a 24 year old reservist with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment lost his life in the shooting at the Ottawa War Memorial. The attack was stopped in the Parliament Building by Parliament’s Sgt. at Arms, Kevin Vickers and other members of the Canadian security forces. 

Vickers had been recognized by the WSO in 2011 for upholding the right of Sikhs to wear kirpans in the Canadian Parliament. 

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