Surrey latest city to denounce Quebec’s Bill 21

The bill bans public workers from wearing religious symbols while working

The City of Surrey has joined other Canadian cities in publicly denouncing Quebec’s Bill 21.

Bill 21, which was introduced in March and passed in June, means that public workers in Quebec are banned from wearing religious symbols while working. As well, people have to uncover their faces while receiving public service “to allow their identity to be verified or for security reasons,” according to the bill.

The ban includes clothing, a symbol, jewelry, an accessory or headwear that “is worn in connection with a religious conviction or belief” or “is reasonably considered as referring to a religious affiliation.”

Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke brought forward the motion to publicly denounce it at Monday’s (Nov. 18) regular council meeting.

She said denouncing it sends a “very clear” message that Surrey “supports people’s freedoms to worship as they choose, but it is also about inclusion and celebrating Surrey’s amazing diversity.”

“That diversity is our greatest strength in this city,” Locke said. “The ability for us to participate in our culture and our faith and find that acceptance in our neighbourhoods and schools is the cornerstone of who we are as a city and a demonstration of our love for one another.

“When I walk through city hall, I see how blessed we are to have so many people — so many employees — some wearing a hijab, some wearing a turban, a yarmulke or they may carry a kirpan or wear a cross, no matter, they are all a part of us.”

Locke said that Surrey is proud to be the home of Baltej Singh Dhillon, the first person to wear a turban in the RCMP.

READ ALSO: Surrey’s Baltej Dhillon, first Mountie to wear a turban, speaks about acceptance, Sept. 28, 2019

She also referred to Amrit Kaur, a teacher from Quebec who moved to Surrey following the ban.

“Amrit is from Montreal and had to leave her province because she was no longer permitted to practice her religious values and views. That isn’t who we are in Surrey, or Canada, and it is not acceptable,” Locke said.

Council unanimously passed the motion.

Councillor Laurie Guerra, who is Christian, said her faith means everything to her.

“I wouldn’t live in a place where I couldn’t wear my cross or had to cover up my cross tattoo,” Guerra said. “I can’t imagine our wonderful Sikh community not being able to wear a turban or Muslim women not being able to have a head covering. I think it’s absurd.”

For Councillor Mandeep Nagra, he said his father and his son each wear a turban, “just like thousands of other hardworking, peace-loving Canadians.”

“I feel that this bill is designed to target my family and the entire Sikh and Hindu faith community,” Nagra said.

Councillor Doug Elford said the bill legalizes discrimination.

Other cities that have denounced Quebec’s bill include Edmonton, Toronto, Winnipeg and Brampton.

READ ALSO: Protesters against Quebec’s secularism law say they’re not giving up, Oct. 27, 2019



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey monitoring traffic as vehicles again clog city streets

Compared with city’s 2019 weekly average, deepest volume reduction was in late March with up to 46 per cent less vehicles

Refund emails from City of White Rock a ‘phishing’ scam

IT staff work to nullify security breach in ‘classic phishing campaign’

Art’s Scarecrow Festival returns in September

Sixth annual event will be different than previous events because of the pandemic

Surrey’s top cop is keynote speaker at Surrey Board of Trade AGM

Asssistant Commissioner Brian Edwards will be on deck at Tuesday’s ‘virtual’ meeting

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Horvat scores 2 as Vancouver Canucks beat Blues 5-2 in NHL playoff opener

Game 2 in best-of-seven series goes Friday night

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

We were a bit tone deaf: Hobo Cannabis renamed Dutch Love after backlash

Hobo Cannabis has various locations in Vancouver, Kelowna and Ottawa

Most Read