This week the Canadian government announced a new policy. No longer will the citizenship pledge taken by thousands here in Canada each and every year be administered to women who wear a face covering.
This means for women who are Muslim and wear the niqab or burqa they must choose to unveil or lose their chance at Canadian citizenship. What does this mean if they don’t unveil? It means they can NEVER become a Canadian citizen. They will not have the right to vote, to have a say in this democracy, they will not be able to hold some jobs. So because they choose their faith and the veil they will be relegated to second class status in this great land of ours.
As a woman I am outraged. As a Canadian woman even more so. Why?
Because our forefathers wanted a land that was welcoming, that could include all, that all points of view could be heard and seen. We established even a charter of rights and freedoms. It is my right as a woman to wear what I want as long as I am not indecent. I could swear citizenship in a bikini if I wanted too, but I can not dressed modestly and covered. I have the right as a Canadian to express my point of view, but these women will be forever denied that if they choose to cover. They will not have a say in our society, and it is NOT a male relative taking it away but our government.
Around the world there are many niqabi (women who cover and wear and veil) who hold great jobs and are great members of society. If you attend any mosque here in Toronto and are in the sisters area you can meet and talk with women who choose the veil. You would be surprised to find out some are born right here in Canada and see it as a deeper commitment to God. They don’t do it because they have too, or are forced here. Yes, in some parts of the world it is law but here they know they can choose it or lie it down. The veil is worn by these women because they are strong in faith and want to wear it, just like someone may say I am going to wear a habit because it is a symbol of my faith.
For those that say it is an identity issue I say Hogwash! A woman’s identity can be verified simply before taking the oath in a private room, where any woman I know would be glad to show her face to a female court officer. To say how can we know it is her is a moot point as many countries can tell who is who even covered.
By the way I can walk into a mall, and see a niqabi wearing friend of mine and know it is her. I can identity her in a crowd even of other sisters all wearing niqab. It is easy enough to do. identity is not the issue here.
What does that mean for Canada? What does this new policy really mean? If you are not like previous generations of Canadians you are not welcome here. Do as we do, say what we say, be like us, your ways are wrong, we want to empower you but you must do it this way to be empowered you can’t choose your way, you don’t have that expressive right. We are saying to these women because you are not already Canadian you have no charter rights, we do not have to give you them, and we can relegate you to second class member of society if you wish to wear that covering.
The policy is a huge step backwards in this land that is supposed to offer freedom and charter rights. We can no longer say ALL are welcome because as of Monday that is not the case. It is now you are welcome if you do what we say, and are just like us.
What can you do if you are like me and are thinking this policy is wrong? Write your MP. Call him or her and let them know your thoughts. Let me know your thoughts too, and yes I do care.