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Incident at Tignish Legion involving Sikh man's head covering characterized as unfortunate

Tignish Royal Canadian Legion.
Tignish Royal Canadian Legion. - Eric McCarthy

Branch accepts responsibility

TIGNISH—“Unfortunate,” is a word used by Tignish area representatives of three levels of government in response to an 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 playing pool at the legion, remove his head covering. The man refused the demand on the basis of his religious beliefs.

The exchanged 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 headwear while on the premises exempts headwear worn for religious reasons.

Tignish’s mayor, Allan McInnis said he regards the incident last Wednesday as an “unfortunate misunderstanding.”

McInnis said he is happy to have the legion in his community. “They do great benefit for the community,” he said.

“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, said he is pleased the legion is apologizing and taking steps to educate it staff in response to what he 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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