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Canada The Turban Has Gained Great Respect In Canada But Disrespectful Attitudes Remain


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
By Ken Herar

Recently, I had an interesting conversation with a friend who was curious about why Sikhs wear the various colours and different styles of turbans.

Living in the Lower Mainland, many times in a day you will see turbaned Sikhs walking on the streets, in the malls or maybe at your workplace. This simply shows how far we have come as a nation in establishing our diversity throughout Canada.

As Abbotsford prepares for the centennial celebrations of the Historic Sikh Temple on South Fraser Way from Aug 26-28, this unique anniversary demonstrates our roots and partnerships that have been built over the last century.

Getting back to the conversation with this lady, she stopped me dead in my tracks with her questions about turbans. I have no issues with that. Where I draw the line is if an individual is being respectful in their questioning. Let’s just say, she was cutting a fine line at the very least.

Furthermore, she went on to comment that she was surprised to see females and children wearing turbans.

She asked, “Is this something new?” I replied, “no.” She didn’t sound very happy in her tone. I was left with the impression that she did not like the changing ethnic landscape of our local community.

What I gathered from this short five-minute conversation as I read between the lines was that there are too many people with turbans in our community.
She did not say it but her body language and tone certainly expressed this unfortunate message. The person assisting me in this conversation also felt the same way.

Next time you ask a question about someone’s religion or culture, be respectful how you direct the questions.

I understand that not everyone knows why turbaned Sikhs wear different colours and why women and children wear turbans. To tell you the truth, I didn’t know the correct answers, either.

That’s why I called a friend to assist me. It’s good to ask and learn about our ethnic diversity. This is how we build bridges and inclusiveness.

But don’t forget to show patience and respect and be genuine in your interest. If you can’t do this – don’t ask. People can often see the hate.
I have a simpler solution – if you don’t like the ethnicity in our local community, consider relocating.

We’re all at different stages in our understanding of diversity and that includes me. Discussion and dialogue are some of the best ways to overcome misunderstanding.

Are you in between jobs or looking for that first job in Canada? Fast tracking your soft skills is an essential tool in landing that first job. The Employment Mentors and Skills Connect programs are presenting Nick Noorani, one of the ‘Top 25 Canadian Immigrants’ and former publisher of the Canadian Immigrant magazine.

He will be presenting the “7 Success Secrets for Immigrants” on Sept. 8 from 9: 30 a.m. to 12 noon in the Jasbir Saran Room, Abbotsford Community Services main office, 2420 Montrose Ave, Abbotsford.



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Oct 14, 2012
Surrey, Canada
People who "know me" elsewhere on the net will know by now that I am one of the fiercest defenders of Sikhs, who is non-sikh herself. ;-)

Part of that started with some very good close Sikh friends, and extended to me becoming interested in first the language then the culture then the religion. I have learned enough to discuss and defend Sikhi including turbans, kirpans (the things that MOSTLY get peoples' hackles to go up...they could care less about keshas, kangha, kachha & kara...). But I don't mince words or make excuses. ;-) I call it like it is and tell people to wake up and smell the coffee on both sides of the fence occasionally. ;-)


Apr 7, 2013
Sikhs with turbans have made themselves known in Canada no doubt about it. Most Canadians from my experience know that turban-wearers are Sikhs. Most still very much work needs to be done in education and give opportunities to all of people in teaching the symbol of the turban and Sikhi faith...even in America. I feel America is very behind in Canada in terms of understanding other religions and cultures. Hopefully in the future a lot of change can happen.
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