Inspirational Story of Baltej Singh Dhillon As A Sikh RCMP Officer

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RCMP Baltej Singh Dhillon
Sergeant Baltej Singh Dhillon was the First Sikh RCMP permitted to wear a turban.

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.

baltej-dhillon-rcmpThe 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”.

It was in April 1989 that the RCMP commissioner recommended the prohibition against turbans be lifted. Almost a year later, Solicitor General Pierre Cadieux gives his ruling to allow turbans. During the intervening year, protests had gathered steam.
Herman Bittner, who created an unflattering calendar to protest the move, says in an interview,
“Am I really a racist, or am I standing up and trying to save something that you know can be lost forever?”
It took months, but finally the federal government removed the ban and on 15 March 1990, Solicitor General Pierre Cadieux delivered his ruling to allow turbans. Dhillon began police training in Regina and graduated in 1991. His resolve changed the face of the iconic Canadian Mountie.
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