British Columbia

Sikhs allowed kirpans in B.C. courtrooms

Sikhs who wish to carry a small ceremonial sword or dagger while visiting courthouses in B.C. will soon be able to do so, the provincial government has announced.
A Sikh man wears his Kirpan at the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa. (CP/Fred Chartrand)

Sikhs who wish to carry a small ceremonial sword or dagger while visiting courthouses in B.C. will soon be able to do so, the provincial government has announced.

The policy will take effect in B.C. on April 12, according to a statement from the Ministry of Justice.

Sikhs wishing to carry kirpans will be required to identify themselves to court sheriffs and comply with size restrictions.

The length of the kirpan, including the sheath, may not exceed 19 centimetres while the blade must not be more than 10 centimetres. It must be worn under clothing and not be easily accessible.

The kirpan is considered a required religious symbol by many Sikhs.

The policy change is in response to a decision by the Supreme Court of Canada and other human rights decisions.

Kirpans are already allowed in provincial courtrooms in Alberta and Toronto, and in all Parliament of Canada buildings.

According to the Sikh religion, the kirpan symbolizes spiritual wisdom and the duty to stand against injustice.