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Saskatchewan grants helmet exemption for Sikh motorcyclists headed to Nagar Kirtan parades

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan grants helmet exemption for Sikh motorcyclists headed to Nagar Kirtan parades'
Saskatchewan grants helmet exemption for Sikh motorcyclists headed to Nagar Kirtan parades
WATCH: A temporary exemption has been made for Saskatchewan Sikh motorcyclists headed to cultural parades around the province over the next two weeks. Gates Guarin has the details. – May 9, 2024

A temporary exemption has been made for Saskatchewan Sikh motorcyclists headed to cultural parades around the province over the next two weeks.

Regina is hosting a Nagar Kirtan parade on May 11 and Saskatoon will be hosting its own on May 19.

Click to play video: 'Saskatchewan motorcycles back on the road as summer nears'
Saskatchewan motorcycles back on the road as summer nears

Sikhs travelling to the events by motorcycle will be exempt from following helmet laws so they can represent their religious identity by wearing a turban, according to the provincial government. The exemption is only for those going to the venues.

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Preet Kamal Gill, a volunteer with the Sikh Society of Saskatchewan, said the exemption has been a long time coming.

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When he moved to Canada 15 years ago, he said he didn’t have any peers or role models that wore a turban.

“I ended up giving up my turban and cutting my hair,” Gill told Global News.

He said that a turban isn’t just a piece of clothing, it ties Sikhs to their religious identity.

“It’s a source of pride for our community and I think once people understand that they understand why we are pursuing this.”

Gill said the helmet exemption allows Sikhs to follow their passion, in this case riding motorcycles, while being able to fully embrace their religious identity.

The exemptions must be approved by the minister responsible for Saskatchewan Government Insurance (SGI) and is limited to members of the Sikh religion.

“We know that there’s a great religious significance for wearing the turban for Sikhs and that they had been asking for this type of exemption, so we’re happy to grant it and allow for them to take part in the parade,” Dustin Duncan, minister responsible for SGI, said on Wednesday.

The exemption does not apply to riders who are learners or in their home province’s graduated driver licensing program.

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Gill said the Sikh motorcycle community in Saskatchewan is quite large.

“We want to be able to show the world what our identity is, what our principals are, what our core values are,” Gill said. “It’s for equality for all and dignity for all.”

He said those attending the Nagar Kirtan parades can expect colourful dresses, delicious food, great music and proud motorcyclists.

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