On June 16, 2019, Quebec passed Bill 21. It banned particular public service employees in positions of power from displaying symbols or apparel related to religion.
Hijabs, burqas, crosses and turbans are deemed unsuitable under the legislation. According to Kitchener Mayor Berry Vrbanovic and the Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM), this type of law is not only ‘discriminatory,’ but “runs contrary to who we are as Canadians and residents of Kitchener.
Two years after its implementation, Kitchener City Council voted unanimously on Monday to pass a motion which endorses the current legal challenge against Bill 21, in collaboration with multiple other local religious organizations.
“Bill 21, is as Mayor Vrbanovic has already said, is everything but Canadian,” said Coun. Paul Singh.
A notable moment came with Coun. Singh’s personal anecdote about religious expression. He seconded Vrbanovic’s motion.
“As a practising Sikh, and members of my family who visibly wear or practise their faith, I think it’s very much their right and privilege. And for them to be excluded from employment, it’s just wrong in so many ways.”
The motion also pledged more money into the Racialized and Indigenous Support for Equity (RISE) grant, which allocates funds for community members in marginalized groups for activities, events, and support networks.
In an email correspondence, the Muslim Society Of Waterloo & Wellington Counties said that they are “satisfied with the motion, and hope that it brings a new understanding of religious tolerance to those in the region.”