Saskatchewan’s government is making an exemption to the province’s helmet laws, allowing Sikhs to wear a turban instead—but it is only a temporary exemption.
Last week, the government announced it would change the province’s Vehicle Equipment Regulations to let Sikhs ride without a helmet. It is only in cases when the minister responsible for SGI (the provincial insurance body) makes the exemption. The exemptions will only be granted for events such as charity rides. This is not intended to be a permanent, across-the-board exemption as is seen in Ontario (where it was a long battle), Manitoba, British Columbia and Alberta.
“Helmets are an essential piece of safety equipment for motorcyclists,” said Don Morgan, the province’s minister responsible for SGI. “While we have no plans to introduce a blanket exemption to motorcycle helmet laws, our government sees this provision for temporary exemptions as a fair compromise that will enable future charity fundraisers to proceed.”
The move apparently comes after much lobbying from the Legendary Sikh Riders club in British Columbia, who wish to do a charity ride across Canada. Like many Sikhs, club members wish to express their faith by wearing a turban, which is obviously a problem if you’re also forced to wear a motorcycle helmet, which is the case for most Canadian provinces.
This win for Sikh riders makes us wonder what provinces might change their rules next. If the Legendary Sikh Riders want to do a true coast-to-coast ride,they’ll need to get permission from Quebec as well, which does not sound easy, and perhaps the Maritime provinces as well. It’s probably doable, as we’ve seen change already in several provinces. However, it may take a while for it to work its way through government bureaucracy. It seems many bureaucrats are hesitant to accommodate the Sikh religion, for fear that other riders might want to also ditch their helmets as well.