Quebec teachers protest ban on religious symbols

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Many in the Sikh and Muslim communities in Quebec are understandably worried about their future in the province and how it can impact them directly or indirectly.

In an interview on the issue, a student teacher Amrit Kaur who wears a turban all the time said she would have to re-visit her career choices if the province’s newly-elected government goes through with a promise to ban certain state employees from wearing religious symbols in the workplace.

She is among those asking premier-designate Francois Legault to reconsider a proposal that would apply to state employees who occupy positions of authority, including judges, police officers and teachers.

For Kaur at least, taking off her turban isn’t an option. And she feels that accepting a desk job — an option proposed by Legault’s Coalition Avenir Quebec — would be a disservice not only to herself but to her students, who come from diverse backgrounds and need to see that diversity reflected in the front of their classrooms.

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“To say that you can be different as a class, but your teachers have to be this (certain) way, sets the precedent that this is the norm, and it’s not OK to just live your truth.”

Namrata Malhi another baptized Sikh said wearing her turban was an article of faith and a symbol that she is equal to her male counterparts.

She said she understands that the province’s history, which included Catholic control over schools and other institutions, has caused some Quebecers to fear any sign of religion in public life.
But she said she also can’t accept that the articles of her faith, which include a turban and a kirpan, or sword, could prevent her from pursuing a career in law or government.

Legault would use notwithstanding clause if necessary.  The Coalition Avenir Quebec swept to power in last week’s provincial election, winning 74 of the province’s 125 ridings. -CINEWS

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