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Parliament Shooting Hero A Friend Of The Sikh Community

When  the Quebec National Assembly in 2010 banned the carrying of kirpan, the Sikh ceremonial dagger in their provincial parliament, Parliamentary Sgt. At Arms Kevin Vickers, who is being hailed a hero for stopping a deranged shooter in Parliament this week,  moved to ensure that the ceremonial dagger be allowed in the Commons despite a Bloc Québécois motion calling for it to be prohibited. “I see your wearing of the kirpan, especially in our Parliamentary buildings, as exactly that, respecting your dignity,” Vickers told WSO members at a ceremony to honour him in October 2011. “But just as the kirpan issue came before us last winter, we are reminded how vigilant we must be to not only defend but promote the practices, cultures and religions of all peoples.” Hawkish PM Stephen Harper is threatening many changes to Canadian security in the aftermath of the shooting. But we hope that he listens to the reasoned Canadian voices such as Vickers’, which represent the true identity of Canada.

By R. Paul Dhillon

With News Files

SURREY –  Parliamentary Sgt. At Arms Kevin Vickers is being hailed a hero for shooting and killing a deranged Canadian-born extremist Michael Zehaf Bibeau, a 32-year-old born with the name Michael Joseph Hall, who killed a Canadian soldier during a shooting rampage Wednesday morning in Ottawa.

Vickers is also a dear friend of the Canadian Sikh community.

When  the Quebec National Assembly in 2010 banned the carrying of kirpan, the Sikh ceremonial dagger in their provincial parliament, Vickers moved to ensure that the ceremonial dagger be allowed in the Commons despite a Bloc Québécois motion calling for it to be prohibited.

Calling him to be a friend of the Sikh community for recognizing an important religious symbol, the World Sikh Organization of Canada paid tribute to him at a dinner in Ottawa in October 2011.

WSO expressed its sadness and shock at this week’s terrorist attacks in Ottawa, which led to the killing of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a 24 year old reservist with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders regiment.

The attack was stopped in the Parliament Building by Vickers and other members of the Canadian security forces.

WSO President Dr. Amritpal Singh Shergill said, “we stand in solidarity with our fellow Canadians in condemning these atrocious attacks.  As we commend the quick and courageous action of Sgt. at Arms Kevin Vickers in preventing any further loss of life, we also send our prayers and condolences to the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo who lost his life while serving his country.

“The response of Canadians of all backgrounds to these attacks has shown that we will not be intimidated or daunted but will instead respond with courage and unity. We will not let this attack divide us.  Today, as Sikhs around the world commemorate Bandi Chhor Divas, let us reflect on what part we must play so that that freedom and justice can prevail.”

And it was at the WSO awards function in 20122 that Vickers, who had served for 29 years as an RCMP officer, explained in a moving speech his view of the country and what led to his decision to support the carrying of the Kirpan in parliament.

He noted that as a young boy growing up in Miramichi, N.B., he saw his father invite home students from developing countries, who were studying about co-operatives at the Coady Institute at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S, reported Globe and Mail newspaper.

Sitting around the dining room table and listening to their stories, he said, he learned to respect the culture and dignity of others.

“I see your wearing of the kirpan, especially in our Parliamentary buildings, as exactly that, respecting your dignity,” he told the WSO members. “But just as the kirpan issue came before us last winter, we are reminded how vigilant we must be to not only defend but promote the practices, cultures and religions of all peoples.”

Vickers said that he doesn’t like the word “tolerance” or the phrase “a tolerant society,” reported the Globe.

“I am going to tolerate you wearing the kirpan within the Parliamentary Precinct. No. As head of security, I am going to accept and embrace your symbol of faith within the Parliamentary Precinct,” he said.

“As we go forward, we should ask ourselves what Canada should be when it grows up,” he said. “We have a long way to go before reaching adulthood. The seizure of the kirpans at the Quebec legislature last winter demonstrates the challenges that lay before us as we continue on this journey of sewing together the fabric of our nation with the thread of multiculturalism. Perhaps it would be beneficial for our country, as a nation, to define its core values. What are the core values of Canada, what makes up the soul and heart of our nation?”

Hawkish PM Stephen Harper is threatening many changes to Canadian security in the aftermath of the shooting. But we hope that he listens to the reasoned Canadian voices such as Vickers’, which represent the true identity of Canada.

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