The World Sikh Organization of Canada has helped Master Seaman Wanda McDonald become the first Sikh woman to wear the turban while serving in the Royal Canadian Navy (RCN).
McDonald, a Sonar operator based out of Halifax, Nova Scotia, joined the RCN in 1997 and became interested in the Sikh faith three years ago. After deciding to become an initiated or amritdhari Sikh, she requested permission to wear the turban on duty.
The WSO regularly provides information to the Canadian Forces with respect to Sikh practices and articles of faith. When McDonald made her request to wear the turban, the WSO was once again consulted and provided information and advice on the significance of the turban to both Sikh men and women.
The Canadian Forces now allow both Sikh men and women to wear turbans and the Sikh articles of faith while serving.
McDonald has now been given permission and has begun to wear her turban full time while on duty.
She said, “As the first Sikh woman in the Royal Canadian Navy to be approved to serve while wearing a turban, I feel fortunate to be given this opportunity. Military service is a very rewarding career, and I hope that my example will inspire other Canadian Sikh women to follow this path; to be able serve their country without worrying about having to compromise their identity as a Sikh. I would especially like to thank legal counsel Bhai Balpreet Singh Ji, and the World Sikh Organization of Canada for the assistance they have provided in this process.”
WSO president Amritpal Singh Shergill said, “It is another milestone for Canadian Sikhs to see a Sikh woman proudly serve her country in the Canadian Forces while fearlessly being allowed to follow the teachings of her faith. We congratulate Wanda for this achievement and the Royal Canadian Navy for making it possible. This is another example of what makes Canada great and makes us proud to be Canadians.”