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Political leaders say Tignish has learned from Sikh head-covering incident at legion

Jaswinder singh Dhaliwal, left, Sunnydeep singh Pannu (Sunni), and Annemarie Blanchard left the Tignish Legion Wednesday after Jaswinder singh Dhaliwal was asked to remove his religious head covering and was taunted with racial slurs by patrons. The legion now admits its request to remove his religious head covering violates legion policy.
Jaswinder singh Dhaliwal, left, Sunnydeep singh Pannu (Sunni), and Annemarie Blanchard left the Tignish Legion Wednesday after Jaswinder singh Dhaliwal was asked to remove his religious head covering and was taunted with racial slurs by patrons. The legion now admits its request to remove his religious head covering violates legion policy. - Screenshot

“Unfortunate” was the word used by Tignish area representatives of three levels of government in response to an ugly incident last week at the Tignish legion.

The incident erupted following a staff member’s demand that a Sikh man, who was part of a party of three people playing pool at the legion, remove his head covering. The man refused the demand on the basis of his religious beliefs.

The exchange that followed became racially-charged.

Legion president Stephen Gallant has since acknowledged they were wrong to make the demand, explaining they were unaware the head covering was being worn for religious reasons.

“I will personally apologize on my behalf and on behalf of the staff and on behalf of the membership of Branch Number 6 in Tignish,” Gallant said Monday.

The president acknowledges legion policy requiring patrons to remove their head covering while on the premises, exempts that which is worn for religious reasons.

Related: Tignish legion to issue apology for demanding Sikh man remove religious head covering

Tignish Mayor Allan McInnis said he regards the incident last Wednesday as an “unfortunate misunderstanding.”

He said he is happy to have the legion in his community.

“They do a great benefit for the community.”

“It’s unfortunate, but it’s not reflective of the community,” said Egmont MP Bobby Morrissey.

He described Tignish as a “very warm and embracing community.”

The MLA for Tignish-Palmer Road is pleased the legion is apologizing and is taking steps to educate its staff in response to what he also called an unfortunate incident.

“Tignish has a history of being very welcoming,” Hal Perry added.

Sunni Pannu, one of the two Sikhs who was at the legion last Wednesday, said they want to put the whole incident behind them.

“It’s just a thing between us and legion.

“They know now what they did is wrong,” he said. “That was the only concern, that they should know, and they know now and I think that should be good.”

Gallant said the legion takes full responsibility for the incident.

“We will meet with the individuals and personally apologize, and we will better educate ourselves in case this ever happens again.”

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