This brings BC into line with many other jurisdictions and complies with Supreme Court of Canada decisions on this issue. In most public places in Canada a kirpan is allowed, although there have been some court cases involving the carrying of the object on school premises. In the 2006 Supreme Court of Canada decision of Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite‑Bourgeoys the court held that the banning of the kirpan in a school environment offended Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms, nor could the limitation be upheld under s. 1 of the Charter.
There are restrictions on the size of the kirpan and it must be declared to courthouse security and examined to ensure the person is an Amritdhari Khalsa Sikh.
Here is the report:
B.C. Sikhs have let out a sigh of relief since the government announced they no longer have to compromise their faith when entering provincial courtrooms.
According to a Ministry of Justice release, as of Friday Amritdhara Khalsa Sikhs will be able to wear their kirpans — a small stylized sword, part of their five articles of faith — when visting public areas of a courthouse.
“It’s a relief,” said Sukhvinder Kaur Vinning, executive director of the World Sikh Organization of Canada.
“I can focus on being a good civic citizen and I don’t have to worry about compromising my faith, so that’s a huge burden that’s been lifted.”
Having to testify in court can be a stressful situation, and for Sikhs having to remove the kirpan made it worse, said Vinning.
“To take it off, that’s a painful thing to ask,” she said. “It eats away at a person.”
“[It was like] kind of being torn in two … practicing Sikhism and being a good citizen.”
The kirpan, as part of the Sikh code of conduct, is supposed to be worn — sheathed — at all times. The kirpan itself symbolizes the Sikh duty to stand against injustice.
“It’s very sacred, it’s an extension of who we are — we wear it all times,” said Vinning. “Taking it off – it’s hard.”
So the government and WSO worked together to create the new policy.
According to director of Abbotsford’s Sikh Heritage Museum, Satwinder Bains, the policy is “the next step” for Sikhs.
“But I still think there’s a lot of work to be done,” she said, adding dialogue outside the Sikh community is needed.
“The conversation about what the kirpan means to Sikhs needs to happen,” she said. “People don’t have all the information — the first thing that comes to mind is, ‘Oh my goodness, this is a sword, this is a dagger.’”
According to the union representing sheriffs, members “are not concerned with kirpans in the courtrooms, [because] these are longheld religious beliefs and our members respect them.”
“It’s something that they’ll have to monitor and just another issue that they have to deal with in the courtrooms,” said Dean Purdy, spokesman for the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union.
Similar kirpan accommodation policies already exist in the Parliament of Canada, as well as in Alberta and Toronto courthouses.
For an Amritdhari Sikh to attend a B.C. courthouse with a kirpan, the sheriff must be informed and the person must identify himself as an Amritdhari Sikh.
The sheriff will then assess potential risk factors, and has the right to refuse someone with a kirpan on a case-by-case basis.http://www.vancouverdesi.com/news/sikhs-hail-kirpan-agreement-for-b-c-courts/534423/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter
Here is the news release from the BC Ministry of Justice:
Kirpan policy introduced for B.C. courthouses
Amritdhari Khalsa Sikhs will soon be able to wear a Kirpan, a small stylized sword, while visiting courthouse public areas following a security assessment by B.C. sheriffs.
British Columbia is making the policy change effective April 12 in keeping with other jurisdictions, as well as in response to human rights and Supreme Court of Canada decisions. Kirpan accommodation policies are already in effect in the Parliament of Canada buildings, the provincial court of Alberta, and in Toronto courthouses.
Any person wishing to enter a B.C. courthouse with a Kirpan must inform the sheriff that they are wearing one and identify themselves as an Amritdhari Sikh. There are size restrictions in place for Kirpans allowed in the courtrooms. The Kesh and the Kara must also be available for proof of the person's Khalsa Sikh status, and government-issued photo identification may also be requested.
In addition to physical evidence and identification, the sheriff will assess potential risk factors by asking questions such as the reason for the visit, the type of court proceeding they wish to attend, and the person's relation to the case. Sheriffs maintain the discretion to refuse or admit a Kirpan into the courthouse on a case-by-case basis.
The Kirpan symbolizes spiritual wisdom and the duty to stand against injustice. The Khalsa (Amritdhari) Sikh code of conduct requires the Kirpan to be worn at all times with four other articles of faith. The other articles of faith are the Kesh (unshorn hair covered with a turban), Kanga (wooden comb), Kara (iron bracelet), and Kachhera (cotton breeches).http://www.newsroom....ourthouses.html