Sikh Barred Entry at Legion, Forcing Change to Out-of-Date Rule

November 18, 2005

Source: Brampton Guardian

On November 18, 2005 the Brampton Guardian reported, "Royal Canadian Legion branches in Brampton have been forced to change an out-of-date rule, which discriminates against some Sikhs and Orthodox Jews.

Local veterans call it a tradition that they fiercely enforce-- no 'headgear' in the Legion clubroom. Head coverings must be removed out of respect for the fallen.

Branch 609 on Queen Street East enforced that rule on Remembrance Day, telling Ravinder Singh Dhaliwal, a 26-year-old Brampton university student, he was the only adult member of the community attending the service who was not allowed in the clubroom.

'It was humiliating,' Dhaliwal said of how it made him felt to be singled out.

He was pulled aside and told by President Marie Hayden that 'headgear' was not allowed in the clubroom, including Dhaliwal's turban.

'It's unfortunate, but it's nothing personal,' Hayden told The Guardian. 'It's a rule. I wasn't disrespectful. I was very polite.'

Members of the Legion, a private club, had voted for that rule, she said, and she was just enforcing it...

Poulin and Ontario Command Executive Director Marlene Lambros told The Guardian the 'no headgear' rule was modified eight years ago when all branches across the nation were notified in writing that religious headdress is an exception to the rule.

The presidents of Brampton's branches-- 609 and 15-- both say they were unaware of the change in policy at the upper tier. They said the last they had heard on the issue was in the early 1990s and the decision was left up to the local branches."