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Canada WSO Top 10 In 2010


1947-2014 (Archived)
Jun 17, 2004
December 31st, 2010

For over 26 years the World Sikh Organization of Canada has been at the forefront of Canadian Sikh advocacy. 2010 was a year of challenges for the Sikh community but WSO is proud to have risen to the occasion to give Canadian Sikhs a nuanced and articulate voice in the mainstream.
We are proud of our achievements in 2010 and present below WSO’s Top 10 Year in Review. For more details on WSO’s activities, please visit www.worldsikh.ca.

1) Countering allegations of ‘extremism’: WSO raised its voice to address allegations of rising extremism in the Sikh community with news releases and interviews which were covered by the mainstream Canadian media including the National Post, Vancouver Sun and Globe & Mail. WSO also publicly responded to MP Ujjal Dosanjh’s allegations of rising extremism amongst Canadian Sikhs by calling on him to provide evidence to back up his claims. WSO consistently endeavoured to provide a rational and informed voice to combat the hysteria and presented the public with a true image of the integration of Sikhs into Canada’s multicultural fabric.

2) Advocacy on Sikh Issues with Government & Elected Officials: WSO met with elected members of all three levels of government this year to discuss issues of concern to Sikh Canadians. WSO is proud to have the opportunity to deliver the message of Sikh Canadians to politicians of all stripes.

• WSO met with Liberal leader Michael Ignatieff in August to discuss the community’s concern over comments made about the Sikh community and the 1984 Sikh Genocide.

• WSO also honoured NDP leader Jack Layton for his party’s consistent support of human rights and the Sikh community.

• In November, WSO made a presentation before the BC & Yukon Federal Conservative Caucus about issues affecting Canadian Sikhs including the unfair labelling of the community and immigration reforms.

3) Vancouver Games 2010: WSO negotiated an accommodation policy for the kirpan at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games and successfully oversaw its implementation. Sikhs could freely participate in the games wearing their articles of faith. The kirpan policy which was developed in consultation with WSO is now serving as a precedent to open the doors for accommodation in other venues.

4) Clearing misconceptions surrounding the kirpan: After an unfortunate incident in Brampton Ontario in April where a kirpan was allegedly misused, a firestorm arose about the safety and accommodation of the kirpan. WSO issued a news release titled “Canadian Sikhs on the Kirpan: Separating Fact from Fiction”. The release was covered by the mainstream media including the National Post. WSO also provided interviews on the issue and participated in several radio and television discussions.

5) Increased presence in the media: In addition to a weekly “Ask the religious experts” column in the Ottawa Citizen about the Sikh perspective on various social and religious issues, WSO published Op Eds (opinion editorials) in both the Toronto Star and Ottawa Citizen titled “Politicians Repudiate Canadian Values Over India” and “Disputing Sikh Extremism”. This is in addition to WSO news releases being covered by all major media outlets and regular television and radio interviews with WSO spokespersons on current Sikh issues.

6) Addressing issues at the Fraser Health Network: once again this year there were reports of Sikh patients being shaved and having their hair cut at the FHN. WSO took the issue up with both FHN executive members and BC Health Minister Colin Hansen in a meeting in October 2010.

7) Raising Awareness about the 1984 Sikh Genocide: WSO was the first human rights organization to speak out against the visit to Canada of Indian Roads and Highways Minister Kamal Nath who has been implicated in leading mobs which killed Sikhs in November 1984. To raise awareness of the issue, WSO hosted Manoj Mitta, Senior Editor with the Times of India and co-author of the book

“When a Tree Shook Delhi”. Mr. Mitta travelled with WSO members to Ottawa where he met with several parliamentarians and the Subcommittee on International Human Rights which includes members of all four federal parties. WSO also hosted seminars on the 1984 Sikh Genocide in Surrey and Abbotsford featuring www.sikhtoons.com creator Vishavjeet Singh and Prof. Indira Prahst of Langara College.

8 ) Raising Awareness of Human Rights abuses in Punjab: WSO hosted a visit by Bibi Paramjit Kaur Khalra, wife of S. Jaswant Singh Khalra, to discuss ongoing human rights concerns in Punjab.

Bibi Khalra visited Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia and met with the Sikh community and also several elected officials. WSO in cooperation with the Sikh Activist Network organized a seminar on the issue of Punjab human rights abuses entitled “Where Did They Go?” in Brampton ON, featuring Mrs. Khalra as well as survivors of abuse.

9) Raising a voice for Human Rights for All Canadians: In May, WSO raised its voice in support of Hamish Jacobs, an Alberta high school student, and helped him win the right to wear a kilt to his graduation in order to honour his Scottish heritage. WSO also spoke out against Quebec’s Bill 94 against the Niqab and made submissions to the Quebec National Assembly on the issue.

10) Our Legal Work: WSO has been a respected voice at all levels of courts in Canada and has played a role in some of the most important human rights decisions to come from the Supreme Court of Canada including the Amselem and Multani decisions. This year again, WSO represented Sikhs in human rights litigation across Canada in issues ranging from the accommodation of the kirpan at courthouses to the accommodation of beards and gas mask requirements at industrial sites to the wearing of dastaars for individuals who are taken into custody. WSO continues to provide regular advice and guidance to Sikhs who have human rights inquiries or are facing discrimination.

WSO is proud to have been able to serve as a resource for the community and advocate for Sikh interests in 2010. With your support, we’re sure 2011 will bring even bigger and better things.

If you would like to get involved with WSO or would like to donate please visit www.worldsikh.ca.

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.