October 23, 2014

RESPECT:

Parliament to 'accept and embrace' wearing of kirpan, sergeant-at-arms explains (JANE TABER, 6/02/11, The Globe and Mail)

Mr. Vickers, 54, is the sergeant-at-arms in the Commons - perhaps familiar to some Canadians as the tall man in black carrying the mace into the House. Appointed in 2006, he oversees the security of the parliamentary precinct and sits quietly in his seat in the chamber when the Commons is in session. [...]

Last winter, while the Quebec National Assembly banned the kirpan, Mr. Vickers moved to ensure that the ceremonial dagger be allowed in the Commons despite a Bloc Québécois motion calling for it to be prohibited.

For that, the World Sikh Organization of Canada paid tribute to him at a dinner in Ottawa. And there, Mr. 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.

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.

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."

Mr. Vickers said that he doesn't like the word "tolerance" or the phrase "a tolerant society." "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.

Posted by at October 23, 2014 6:40 PM
  

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