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News > World

Canadian Club Apologizes to Sikh Man After Racist Comments

  • "I was like no man, it's my religion, and in my religion, I always cover my hair," Singh said. "And I can't do that," CBC News reported.   | Photo: Reuters

Published 21 January 2018

"I was like 'no man,' it's my religion, and in my religion, I always cover my hair," Singh said. "And I can't do that."

The president of a Canadian club issued an apology on Friday after a woman identified as the club's manager told a Sikh man who was playing pool she would "rip" off his headgear, a turban, and started hurling racist remarks at him. 

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Jaswinder Singh and Sunny Pannu, who moved to West Point, Prince Edward Island, last February had gone to the club with their call center colleague, Annemarie Blanchard, when the incident occurred on Wednesday at Tignish town at the Royal Canadian Legion, a veteran's club.   

The club, which earlier asked visitors to remove their winter caps, raised concern over Singh wearing a turban, part of the religious attire worn by Sikhs.   

Stephen Gallant, the president of Tignish Branch No. 6, told CBC News, "That was the first time ever in the history of this legion that anyone's come in with a religious headdress, and we were caught off guard." 

"I was like 'no man,' it's my religion, and in my religion, I always cover my hair," Singh said. "And I can't do that," CBC News reported.  

"They told us you have to remove your turban because this is our rules," Pannu said. "We said, OK we remove our winter hats because we respect your rules, but you should understand our thing also. They said no, it's not about your religion, you have to follow our rules."

Blanchard told the CBS that she tried explaining the importance of wearing the turban to the staff, but they refused to listen. 

"I went over and said, 'what's going on here?' And they were being asked to remove the headdress," Blanchard said. "I said 'well it's not a hat, it's a headdress. This gentleman wears this for religious reasons, and I don't believe you have any right to remove it.'"

Part of the incident was recorded on video by Singh himself, as he refused to remove his turban. 

"If you don't stop taping me … cause you know what, I'll rip your headpiece off," the woman said to Singh, CBC News reported. 

The manager told CBC News on Friday that she didn't realize it was a religious head covering at first and only realized after they got upset and started recording the video. 

"I do fully apologize and I will apologize to these individuals one-on-one and I want to apologize for my members and my staff and the whole Legion at large," Gallant told the CBC. 

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The Sikh men were also subjected to racist comments from patrons, such as "go back to your country."

Blanchard said, "They (the Sikh men) were told to leave our Island, they're not welcome here, to go back to their country, that they're not welcome in Canada at all. Outraged, I was absolutely outraged. I was totally ashamed." 

Responding to the chain of events, Singh said, "I'm not angry at anyone, I just want them to have some awareness sessions so they should know what they did was wrong." 

"And this happened to me, I don't want this to happen to anyone else, that's the only concern."

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