National Legion issues policy reminder after Sikh man told to remove turban

The Sikh man who was told by staff at the Royal Canadian Legion in Tignish to remove his turban last week says he's pleased with how the Legion has responded to the incident.

Tignish Legion says staff will get more training after being 'caught off guard' by turban

Jaswinder Singh says he's pleased to hear the Royal Canadian Legion in Tignish plans to better educate and train its staff. That's after Singh was told by staff to remove his turban, and some patrons allegedly made racist remarks towards him. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

The Sikh man who was told by staff at the Royal Canadian Legion in Tignish to remove his turban last week says he's pleased with how the Legion has responded to the incident.

The president of the Tignish Legion, Stephen Gallant, has publicly apologized to Jaswinder Singh for what Gallant says was an unfortunate misunderstanding. He said staff didn't realize the smaller head covering Singh was wearing that night, was in fact a form of a turban called a patka. 

The Legion president told CBC on Friday that staff will receive more education and training, aimed at preventing a similar incident from happening again.

"I really like this," Singh told the CBC on Sunday. "If they educate their staff about their own rules and the different religions, then they won't do this kind of thing to anyone else."

National Legion hopes incident 'was an anomaly'

While many Legions across Canada don't allow hats and other head coverings out of respect for veterans, the organization's national policy is to make an exception for members and visitors wearing a head covering for religious reasons.

Stephen Gallant, president of the Tignish Royal Canadian Legion, says it's too early to say what additional training and education staff will receive. (Steve Bruce/CBC News)

A spokesperson for the Legion's national office says when word got out about the Tignish incident, an email was sent out to leadership across the country reminding them religious head coverings are allowed. 

"While we are hopeful this incident was an anomaly, a detailed reminder of our policy was sent by the Legion's Dominion Command to provincial command leadership across the country on Friday," Nujma Bond said in an email. 

Bond added that the policy relating to turbans in Legions was created as far back as 1986. "It was recommended that Provincial Commands be advised that access (to Legion branches) should not be denied because of a turban. This recommendation was passed and became a policy," Bond wrote.

'We belong to one human race'

Gallant said it's too early to say what additional training staff will receive. 

Singh said his hope is that staff will learn how to respond better to patrons if they make racist remarks inside the legion.

In response to the incident in Tignish, the national office of the Royal Canadian Legion has sent out an email, reminding legion leadership across the country of the policy on religious head coverings. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Singh said after he refused to take off his turban, some patrons gave him the middle finger and told him to "go back to your country."

"If someone's making racist comments, they should stop them," Singh said. "They should educate those people as well that 'no, racism is not a good thing.' We belong to one human race. If we leave religion behind, we're all humans."