Canada: Montreal teen who dreams of joining police vows to fight religious-symbols ban - PressFrom - Canada
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CanadaMontreal teen who dreams of joining police vows to fight religious-symbols ban

11:50  15 april  2019
11:50  15 april  2019 Source:   cbc.ca

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Montreal ’s Westmount high school last made headlines as the alma mater of the US senator and It allows for a grandfather clause for those existing employees wearing religious symbols , though Legault, who quickly rebuffed his minister, said people who insist on wearing religious symbols to

The Quebec government’s bill to ban the wearing of religious symbols for some state employees is drawing wide-ranging opposition, from teachers donning symbolic hijabs in Legault appeared equally unmoved by the plight of aspiring teachers or police officers who wear religious symbols , noting

Montreal teen who dreams of joining police vows to fight religious-symbols ban © Dave St-Amand/CBC Dave St-Amand/CBC

When Sukhman Singh Shergill was a little boy, police cars would make him turn his head in excitement.

He collected police badges and notebooks, watched cop shows and told anyone and everyone around him: "I'm going to be a police officer one day."

Shergill is now 15, and his dream remains the same.

"I love the [idea of] helping the community," Shergill said. "It's out of love for people. I love people. I want to make them comfortable."

He watched with admiration as his older cousin, Gurvinder Singh, blazed a trail in New York City.

As president of the New York Police Department's Sikh Officers Association, Singh helped lead the charge for the NYPD to change its uniform policy in 2016, allowing officers to wear turbans in place of the traditional police cap.

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MONTREAL — Teachers and community members linked hands outside a Montreal high school this morning as about 150 English teacher Farhana Begum says some of her students wear religious symbols , and she doesn’t want them to be told they can’t become a teacher, judge or police officer.

MONTREAL — Teachers and community members linked hands outside a Montreal high school this morning as about 150 English teacher Farhana Begum says some of her students wear religious symbols , and she doesn’t want them to be told they can’t become a teacher, judge or police officer.

"He really helped a lot of people. He really helped his community and his religion. All religion," Shergill said.

Montreal teen who dreams of joining police vows to fight religious-symbols ban © Claire Loewen/CBC Manpreet Shergill says her son has always wanted 'to do something to be remembered.'

Ready to fight Bill 21

Shergill has long envisioned carving out his own place in Montreal history by becoming the first officer to wear a turban in the city's police force, the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM).

"Since he was born, he's always wanted to be different, to do something to be remembered," said his mother, Manpreet Shergill.

The Quebec government's proposed Bill 21, which would ban public workers in positions of authority, including teachers, lawyers and police officers, from wearing religious symbols, has only strengthened her son's resolve.

Montrealers take to the streets to protest Quebec's proposed religious symbols ban

Montrealers take to the streets to protest Quebec's proposed religious symbols ban Hundreds of protesters gathered in downtown Montreal on Sunday to protest the Quebec government’s Bill 21 — a proposed law that would ban some public employees from wearing symbols of their faith. "Quebec is not France, long live the difference!" protesters chanted in French while clapping their hands and cheering. Protesters gathered next to the Berri-UQAM Metro station before marching down René-Lévesque Boulevard. Sunday's protest is the latest of several events organized since the bill was tabled in late March.

Montreal ’s Westmount high school last made headlines as the alma mater of the US senator and presidential candidate Kamala Harris. As well as teachers, all employees in positions of authority – including judges, public prosecutors, prison guards, police and liquor inspectors – will be prohibited

Fourteen Montreal -area suburbs, who have their own city councils, have already said they won't apply the law should it pass into law as written. Legault, who quickly rebuffed his minister, said people who insist on wearing religious symbols to work simply shouldn't apply in the first place.

"I'm going to fight it," said Sherghill, a Grade 9 student at a high school in Montreal's Pierrefonds neighbourhood.

"I feel targeted by it because I can't be a police officer anymore, and they're just destroying my dreams like that," he said.

Last weekend, he created a new Facebook group — the Quebec Association of Sikhs — and posted a video explaining his opposition in the hope of galvanizing support.

Shergill, however, faces an uphill battle.

Police union supports ban

Quebec Premier François Legault has said he'd consider compromising on some aspects of the bill — but not the prohibition on police wearing religious symbols.

The issue flared up last year when Sondos Lamrhari, who wears a hijab, came under public scrutiny for her plans to become a police officer. The Coalition Avenir Québec, the Official Opposition at the time, took a hard line.

The position is consistent with the 2008 Bouchard-Taylor report into the accommodation of minorities, which suggested that public workers who exercise the coercive authority of the state, such as police officers and prison guards, be barred from wearing religious garb.

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I made the vows to be a Christian when I was 16-17, and I've never taken it off from that day." Later this year, government officials will argue before the European Court of Human Rights that employers can ban employees from the wearing the cross and fire those who insist on doing so.

But the authors also acknowledged that "a police force is likely to more readily gain the trust of a diversified population if it is diversified and inclusive."

In a statement, Montreal police spokesperson Marylou Bossé said the SPVM is closely following the progress of Bill 21 but hasn't taken a position on religious symbols.

The city's police union has said it's in favour of the ban.

In the past, representatives from the SPVM have said the question is only theoretical since no one wearing a hijab or turban has applied to work on the force.

Montreal teen who dreams of joining police vows to fight religious-symbols ban © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Still, Marvin Rotrand, a Montreal city councillor, has been saying for years that local police need to be more welcoming.

He wrote a letter to the city's executive committee last year asking that Montreal follow the lead of the RCMP, as well as cities like Edmonton, Toronto, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver, in allowing police officers to wear religious clothing and symbols.

Mayor Valérie Plante said at the time she was open to the idea but has yet to take action.

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Rotrand said he's planning to table a motion at next month's city council meeting urging her to make the change.

Diversity still lacking

The SPVM has struggled to diversify its pool of officers despite launching a recruitment drive last year aimed at minorities and Indigenous people.

Only 7.5 per cent of its officers are visible minorities, according to its 2017 annual report — far from reflective of the city's population, about one-third of which are visible minorities.

"It doesn't take very much work to approve changes to your uniform rules, which will tell minorities [that] if they are otherwise qualified and have all the degrees and finished the training, they will be hired," Rotrand said.

"People are not going to spend years to become qualified and spend the money to go through all the courses, and then go through the police academy, only to be told there is no job for them."

Singh, the president of the Sikh Officers Association, said the change to the NYPD's policy signalled to young minorities in New York that the police force was part of the community.

"It just helps build better relationships," Singh said.

It has also helped other members of the police force gain a better understanding of the Sikh religion, he said.

"When they respond to a [call], they might be able to relate better."

Politicians, religious groups leading Montreal protests against Bill 21

Politicians, religious groups leading Montreal protests against Bill 21 If adopted, Bill 21 would prevent public employees — including teachers, police officers and judges — from wearing religious symbols at work. A coalition of mayors, city councillors, school board commissioners and representatives from provincial and federal governments is gathering for a protest organized by the City of Côte Saint-Luc this morning. It starts at 11:30 a.m. in front of the Bernard Lang Civic Centre on Cavendish Boulevard. Later in the day, various religious and social justice organizations are gathering for a demonstration organized by the Canadian Muslim Alliance. The event starts at 2 p.m.

A proposal to ban many public employees from wearing religious clothing is creating a fiery debate in the Canadian province of Quebec, where people are fighting to freely practice their religion - or to be free of it. The measure introduced late last month would prohibit civil servants, teachers, nurses, bus

The debate surrounding religious symbols in Québec has consumed the province’s politics for more than a decade. In 2008, the then-Liberal government commissioned a report that recommended religious symbols be banned for judges, prosecutors, police officers and prison guards

Montreal teen who dreams of joining police vows to fight religious-symbols ban © Provided by Canadian Broadcasting Corporation Submitted by Manpreet Shergill

Since the new policy, Singh said there's been a small influx of Sikh officers. His association now has more than 150 members.

The Toronto Police Service (TPS), which has allowed officers to wear religious symbols such as the hijab since 2011, said the change in policy is part of a broader attempt at inclusivity.

"What we're trying to create is an inclusive police force and a service that values and respects individuals and various cultures and backgrounds," said Suelyn Knight, manager of diversity and inclusion with the TPS.

If Bill 21 becomes law, Shergill said he won't move away to pursue his dream. He's determined to make Montreal police reflect the city's diversity by joining the force himself.

"I want to show people that this is our religion," Shergill said. "We would like to be a part of the Quebec society, and be more comfortable."

Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante faces online threats over secularism stance.
Montreal Mayor Valerie Plante spoke out Thursday about threats directed against her over her stance on the province's secularism bill. Plante told reporters Thursday the online attacks have intensified, and she is taking them seriously. "I'm always open for debate, but I will not accept that," Plante said. "This is not the kind of society we want. This is not what we want to encourage." The threats, including some of physical violence, are in messages posted online or sent directly to her social media accounts. "Freedom of speech is important, but we need to realize we're also talking to human beings," Plante said.

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