Beginning in the 2015-16 NHL season, arenas were instructed to introduce airport-style security screening of guests, including walk-through metal detectors. The WSO began working with arenas across Canada on creating a suitable accommodation for Sikh guests that would balance security with freedom of religion and the Sikhs’ obligation to wear the kirpan.
According to the policy adopted across Canada:
- Sikh guests wearing the kirpan should inform a member of the event service team at the security gate.
- The guest wearing the kirpan must be wearing all the other Sikh articles of faith.
- The total maximum length of a kirpan can be 7.5 inches, with a blade of no more than 4 inches in length and it should be worn underneath the clothing. In accordance with the Sikh tradition, the kirpan should be worn in a fabric belt (gatra) and secured into its sheath.
WSO had pioneered a kirpan accommodation policy for the guests at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics which has served as a precedent for the accommodation of the kirpan not just in Canada but across the world.
WSO President Mukhbir Singh said, “Hockey is Canada’s national sport and unites us across all of our differences. It was important that we proactively ensured that Sikh guests would not run into issues with the new security measures at arenas. Our discussions with the arenas have been very positive and they recognized the importance of welcoming Sikh guests and accommodating the kirpan. We believe that the kirpan accommodation policy now in place at these arenas is an effective balance of security and the right of Canadian Sikhs to freely practice their faith.”
The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) is a non-profit organization with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of Canadian Sikhs, as well as to promote and advocate for the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status.