Sikh soldiers marching in Khalsa Day parade draws fire

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A picture and video showing Sikh members of the Canadian Forces marching in the Khalsa parade in Toronto on April 28 has created a controversy.

Following criticism, Commander 4 Canadian Division, Brigadier-General Joe Paul, is issuing new directions on the carriage of weapons at public events.

“Normally, weapons are not carried at such events,” the statement issued Tuesday by the Canadian Army noted. “The decision to have personnel in full Fighting Order was made by the local commander and was not in keeping with the Canadian Armed Forces Manual of Drill and Ceremonial.”

“The Commander 4 Canadian Division is following up with the unit and is issuing additional direction to the entire division prohibiting the carriage of weapons at similar events,” the statement added.

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The only time weapons are carried in public is on ceremonial parades, in accordance with very specific circumstances as outlined in the Canadian Armed Forces Manual of Drill and Ceremonial, or during military demonstrations such as a tattoo, according to the Canadian Forces.

“A blank firing adaptor is normally used in cases where blanks are loaded in the weapon,” the statement added. “Since the weapons the soldiers were carrying were not loaded with ammunition nor blanks, a BFA was not used.”

The Canadian Army noted in its statement that “the unit Commanding Officers authorized this in a misguided attempt to show a well-equipped CAF.”

The Commander 32 Canadian Brigade Group approved participation in the Khalsa Day Parade and he assigned the task to the Commanding Officer of the Lorne Scots, who issued the order detailing participation – including authorizing unloaded weapon carriage and dress, the Army stated.

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Meanwhile Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan has issued a statement Tuesday noting that the Canadian Forces has made “great strides in increasing diversity and inclusion in the ranks.”

“While the intentions to participate in this event were good, the choice that was made was inappropriate,” Sajjan added.

Critics point out that Canadian Armed Forces members should not be marching with their weapons as it gives the wrong message.

The criticism levelled at Sikh soldiers marching in a Sikh parade is what this could lead to—Hindu soldiers marching in a Diwali parade and so on and so forth. -CINEWS

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