When Baltej Singh Dhillon was accepted into the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police), he faced a choice — serving his country or wearing his turban. He chose to fight for his religious rights. In 1990, the federal government finally removes the ban preventing Sikhs in the RCMP from wearing turbans.
The case caused heated debated and protest across the country. Many felt that tradition was being sacrificed while others made the argument that wearing a turban could bring harm to the officer, including a lack of respect or an assailant strangling an officer with his own turban. Many argued that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom grants Canadians freedom of religion as well as the right to equality and to be not discriminated against based on religion or race.
The decision is not without its protesters, but as Dhillon says, “I’m willing to look these people in the eye and tell them that I’m no different from them”.
“Am I really a racist, or am I standing up and trying to save something that you know can be lost forever?”