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).
Government Communications and Public Engagement
Ministry of Justice