Turban-wearing Sikhs can now ride without helmets in Canada’s Alberta

Canadian province Alberta has the third largest Sikh population in the country after British Columbia and Ontario. In fact, British Columbia and Manitoba already allow Sikhs to ride without helmets.

By: | Published: April 3, 2018 5:48 PM

Image: Sikh Motorcycle Club

A province in Canada has announced that turban-wearing Sikhs can ride motorcycles without a helmet starting 12 April 2018. Canadian province Alberta has the third largest Sikh population in the country after British Columbia and Ontario. In fact, British Columbia and Manitoba already allow Sikhs to ride without helmets. It is mandatory to wear a helmet while riding in Canada, but the exemption has only been made for turban-wearing Sikhs.

Alberta Transportation Minister Brian Mason said Thursday that the exemption was granted at the request of the Sikh community as recognition of their civil rights and religious expression. The exemption applies to riders and passengers over the age of 18 who are members of the Sikh religion.

Under the new rule, a rider wearing a turban, and not a helmet, would have to identify himself to be as a Sikh. At that point, it would be up to the discretion of the officer. If the officer doesn't believe the rider, a ticket may still be issued. The rider would then have to challenge it in court.

Baltej Singh Dhillon, who became the first Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) officer with a turban, welcomed Alberta's decision. In a statement, he said: "The decision by the government of Alberta to allow Sikhs to be able to ride their motorcycles without having to remove their turbans, which is an integral part of the Sikh identity, demonstrates a deep respect for the traditions and customs of the Sikh community.”

"This exemption is a testament to the government of Alberta's continued commitment to respecting diversity and religious rights of all Albertans." Gurpeet Pandher from the Sikh Motorcycle Club of Edmonton called the announcement a "milestone and memorable day" in Alberta's history.

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