Surrey latest city to denounce Quebec’s Bill 21

Surrey latest city to denounce Quebec’s Bill 21

The bill bans public workers from wearing religious symbols while working

The City of Surrey has joined other Canadian cities in publicly denouncing Quebec’s Bill 21.

Bill 21, which was introduced in March and passed in June, means that public workers in Quebec are banned from wearing religious symbols while working. As well, people have to uncover their faces while receiving public service “to allow their identity to be verified or for security reasons,” according to the bill.

The ban includes clothing, a symbol, jewelry, an accessory or headwear that “is worn in connection with a religious conviction or belief” or “is reasonably considered as referring to a religious affiliation.”

Surrey Councillor Brenda Locke brought forward the motion to publicly denounce it at Monday’s (Nov. 18) regular council meeting.

She said denouncing it sends a “very clear” message that Surrey “supports people’s freedoms to worship as they choose, but it is also about inclusion and celebrating Surrey’s amazing diversity.”

“That diversity is our greatest strength in this city,” Locke said. “The ability for us to participate in our culture and our faith and find that acceptance in our neighbourhoods and schools is the cornerstone of who we are as a city and a demonstration of our love for one another.

“When I walk through city hall, I see how blessed we are to have so many people — so many employees — some wearing a hijab, some wearing a turban, a yarmulke or they may carry a kirpan or wear a cross, no matter, they are all a part of us.”

Locke said that Surrey is proud to be the home of Baltej Singh Dhillon, the first person to wear a turban in the RCMP.

READ ALSO: Surrey’s Baltej Dhillon, first Mountie to wear a turban, speaks about acceptance, Sept. 28, 2019

She also referred to Amrit Kaur, a teacher from Quebec who moved to Surrey following the ban.

“Amrit is from Montreal and had to leave her province because she was no longer permitted to practice her religious values and views. That isn’t who we are in Surrey, or Canada, and it is not acceptable,” Locke said.

Council unanimously passed the motion.

Councillor Laurie Guerra, who is Christian, said her faith means everything to her.

“I wouldn’t live in a place where I couldn’t wear my cross or had to cover up my cross tattoo,” Guerra said. “I can’t imagine our wonderful Sikh community not being able to wear a turban or Muslim women not being able to have a head covering. I think it’s absurd.”

For Councillor Mandeep Nagra, he said his father and his son each wear a turban, “just like thousands of other hardworking, peace-loving Canadians.”

“I feel that this bill is designed to target my family and the entire Sikh and Hindu faith community,” Nagra said.

Councillor Doug Elford said the bill legalizes discrimination.

Other cities that have denounced Quebec’s bill include Edmonton, Toronto, Winnipeg and Brampton.

READ ALSO: Protesters against Quebec’s secularism law say they’re not giving up, Oct. 27, 2019



lauren.collins@surreynowleader.com

Like us on Facebook Follow us on Instagram and follow Lauren on Twitter

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Surrey Fire Service is on scene of a fire in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue Saturday morning (April 10). (Photo: Shane MacKichan)
Surrey crews on scene of house fire

It happened in the 12300-block of 72A Avenue

Signage on a South Surrey sidewalk reminds pedestrians to respect social-distancing guidelines. (Photo: Tracy Holmes)
Surrey records 4,400 COVID-19 cases in March

New cases almost doubled between February, March

Surrey RCMP are looking for these two men after a bank in the 12800-block of 96th Avenue was robbed on March 12. (Images: Surrey RCMP)
Police release images of two men suspected of robbing Surrey bank

Robbery happened on March 12 at bank in 12800-block of 96th Avenue

An example of a Surrey Police cruiser, showcased at Mayor Doug McCallum’s State of the City Address at Civic Hotel in May of 2019. (File photo: Amy Reid)
Recently hired inspector no longer ‘taking a position’ with Surrey Police Service

Jeff Harris was first announced as an inspector on April 1

A vaccine-filled needle awaits injection, during a COVID-19 vaccination clinic held Jan. 15, 2021 at Amica White Rock. Community Living B.C.-funded workers learned April 8 that they, too, can now be vaccinated. (Tracy Holmes file photo)
Support workers for those with disabilities given vaccine priority

News shared with Community Living B.C.-funded staff on April 8

B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix and Premier John Horgan describe vaccine rollout at the legislature, March 29, 2021. (B.C. government)
1,262 more COVID-19 infections in B.C. Friday, 9,574 active cases

Province’s mass vaccination reaches one million people

The 10-part Netflix series Maid, which is being exclusively shot in Greater Victoria, was filming near Prospect Lake in Saanich last month. (Photo courtesy Fred Haynes)
Province announces $150,000 towards South Island film studio, fulfilling B.C. NDP promise

Investment to fund movie studio feasibility study at Camosun College

Tyson Ginter, 7, is proud of his latest Hot Wheels he recently received by Quesnel RCMP Const. Matt Joyce. (Photo submitted)
B.C. Mountie handing out toy cars to light up children’s faces

‘A lot of times it will be the only interaction they have with the police,’ says Const. Matt Joyce

People stroll through rows of tulips in bloom during the Tulips of the Valley Festival on May 2, 2017. The colourful spring event, now called Chilliwack Tulips, opens on Sunday, April 11, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Fraser Valley tulip attraction returns this weekend for 1 month

More than 6.5 million bulbs in all at this year’s colourful Chilliwack Tulips event

Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam speaks during a technical briefing on the COVID pandemic in Canada, Friday, January 15, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada’s ICUs see near-record of COVID-19 patients last week as variant cases double

Last week, Canadian hospitals treated an average of 2,500 patients with COVID-19, daily, up 7% from the previous week

University of Victoria rowing coach Barney Williams at the University of Victoria in Victoria, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
UVic, women’s rowing coach deny former athlete’s allegation of verbal abuse

Lily Copeland alleges coach Barney Williams would stand close to her and speak aggressively in the sauna

Librarian Katie Burns with the Fraser Valley Regional Libraries poses for a photo in Chilliwack on June 18, 2019. Monday, April 12, 2021 is Library Workers’ Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of April 11 to 17

Library Workers Day, That Sucks! Day, and Wear Your Pyjamas to Work Day are all coming up this week

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed on April 4, according to a statement from police. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Vancouver police name victim following city’s fourth homicide of 2021

Robinson Russ, 37, was fatally stabbed Sunday in the Downtown Eastside

Most Read