World Sikh Organization

World Sikh Organization (WSO) is a non-profit organization[1] whose 1984 founding goal was "to provide an effective, credible voice to represent Sikh interests on the world stage",[1] after Operation Blue Star. Its stated goal is "to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora",[1] and "promote and advocate for" human rights.[1] Tejinder Singh Sidhu currently serves as President of the organization.[2]

World Sikh Organization
World Sikh Organization logo.jpg
Motto"To work for the promotion of the ideals of universal brotherhood, peace, justice, freedom of worship and speech, respect for cultural diversity and human dignity for all, without any distinction"
TypeCivil rights law
HeadquartersOttawa, Ontario (Canadian Branch)
New York, NY (American Branch)
Tejinder Singh Sidhu


The World Sikh Organization (WSO) was formed after an international gathering of Sikhs on July 28, 1984 at Madison Square Garden in New York City, NY which included several thousand people from the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and several countries in the far east.[3] The organisation was formed with two branches, WSO-Canada and WSO-America, and headquarters in Ottawa and New York. In January 1985, a bilingual newspaper, the World Sikh News, was launched from Stockton, California in order to "project the voice of Sikhs across the world" and highlight "Sikh participation in America’s 'social and cultural life'".[3] The World Sikh News was a supporter of the WSO but was not officially linked with the organization in any way and operated independently.

The WSO has drawn widespread support[3] and is involved in various community issues including the right to wear turbans, right to wear kirpans,[4] and Gurdwara management. WSO officials are chosen through a mix of elections and nominations and meetings are generally held in gurdwaras.[3]


The World Sikh Organization has advocated increased religious freedoms.[5] It helped Baltej Singh Dhillon to fight discrimination and wear a turban in his role as a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. It has also helped Sikhs in Canada in court cases involving the wearing of kirpans. In addition it has supported other groups in asserting their rights, including Orthodox Jewish men wearing the yarmulke, Muslim women wearing the niqab, and a Scottish high school student wearing a kilt to his graduation ceremony.

WSO has been involved as an intervener in several prominent human rights cases at both the provincial level and at the Supreme Court of Canada, including Syndicat Northcrest v. Amselem [2004] 2 S.C.R. 551[7] regarding the right of Jewish residents to build succah huts on their condominium balconies and Multani v. Commission scolaire Marguerite-Bourgeoys, [2006] 1 S.C.R. 256, 2006 SCC 6[8] in which the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the right of Sikh students to wear kirpans to school.

During Justice John Major's Inquiry into the Air India bombing, the WSO applied for and was granted intervener status,[9][10] and applied for leave to call witnesses who would testify about the role of Indian intelligence agents in the Sikh community in Canada and information the Government of India may have had about the bombing.[9] In its final submissions to the Inquiry, the WSO expressed its disappointment with the proceedings, including suggestions that there was "inadequate protection of witnesses" from intimidation.[10]

Terry Milewski reported in a 2006 documentary for the CBC[11] that a minority within Canada's Sikh community was gaining political influence even while publicly supporting terrorist acts in the struggle for an independent Sikh state. In response, the WSO sued the CBC for "defamation, slander and libel", alleging that Milewski linked it to terrorism and damaged the reputation of the WSO within the Sikh community.[12][13] Canadian MP Ujjal Dosanjh and reporter Terry Milewski were also named in the suit for their alleged remarks in the 2007 documentary "Samosa Politics".[13] The court case did not proceed to trial and in December 2015, the parties agreed to unconditionally end the proceedings.

The World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) worked with Ammerdeep Singh and the Yellow Cab taxi company to reach a mutually acceptable resolution regarding the company’s dress code and his style of turban. On July 7th, Mr. Singh’s ID was frozen due to an alleged violation of Yellow Cab’s driver dress code. The issue in question was that of Mr. Singh’s choice of turban style. WSO worked with Yellow Cab to create a formal turban dress code policy for the company’s Sikh drivers.[14]

In October 2011, WSO helped Seneca College student Jaspreet Singh secure the right to freely wear his kirpan on campus, and worked with Seneca College in developing a policy document with respect to the kirpan as well as training materials for faculty, students and security[15].

The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) and the World Sikh Organization of Canada (WSO) announced the inauguration of the Khalra Centre for Human Rights Defenders in New Delhi during a conference held in collaboration with other human rights groups from across India on November 19th and 20th, 2011. The Centre has been established to serve as a legal resource for human rights defenders who find themselves in danger or who are attacked and also to undertake research into human rights issues. The foundation of the Centre was welcomed by the human rights defenders present and all attendees rose to pay their respects to the memory of S. Khalra[16].

There are WSO chapters in every major Canadian city. WSO works with other interfaith and human rights organizations to promote awareness and education about human rights issues, in addition to providing education about the Sikh faith.[17]


  1. ^ a b c d "About WSO". World Sikh Organization of Canada. Retrieved 2009-09-24. The WSO is a non-profit international umbrella organization founded in 1984 as an international organization, with a mandate to promote and protect the interests of the Sikh Diaspora, as well as to promote and advocate the protection of human rights for all individuals, irrespective of race, religion, gender, ethnicity, and social and economic status. The WSO of Canada was registered with the Government of Canada as a non-profit organization, under the name World Sikh Organization of Canada
  2. ^ "Our team". Archived from the original on 2016-03-08. Retrieved 2016-03-02.
  3. ^ a b c d Tatla, Darshan Singh (April 1999). The Sikh Diaspora: The Search for Statehood (Global Diasporas). University of Washington Press. pp. 95–97. ISBN 978-0-295-97714-0.
  4. ^ Proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs. Afternoon session. July 13, 2005. Parliament of Canada.
  5. ^ "NRI Sikh body starts leadership training programme for youth : Mail Today, News". India Today. 26 August 2015. Retrieved 26 August 2015.
  6. ^ "Alberta high school student wins right to wear kilt - CTV News". May 26, 2010. Retrieved 23 July 2011.
  7. ^ [1][dead link]
  8. ^ "Data" (PDF).
  9. ^ a b "Witness intimidation a serious problem, Air India inquiry hears". 2007-10-29. Retrieved 2009-09-24.
  11. ^ Milewski, Terry (June 28, 2007). "Sikh politics in Canada. Symbols and suits. Sikh extremism enters mainstream Canadian politics". CBC. Retrieved 2009-05-31.
  12. ^ Grewal, San (2007-07-11). "Sikh organization sues CBC". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2009-05-19.
  13. ^ a b "The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - World". Retrieved 2009-09-24.
  14. ^ "Yellow Cab turban dispute resolved".
  15. ^ "WSO Helps Resolve Seneca College Kirpan Issue".
  16. ^ "WSO & HRLN Inaugurate Khalra Centre for Human Rights Defenders".
  17. ^ "Activities". Archived from the original on 2011-11-11. Retrieved 2011-10-06.

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