A new sharia-compliant uniform could open doors for Muslim women looking to begin a career in law enforcement in Edmonton. At an Edmonton Police Commission meeting, it was revealed that EPS is working on introducing a hijab option to the uniform.
Edmonton Sun Natasha Goudar with the Equity, Diversity and Human Rights Unit said the conversation started when a recruiter was asked if EPS would “ever even consider allowing someone to wear a hijab.” Goudar says officers have been working closely with various Muslim communities, talking to Imams about cultural implications and requirements.
“One of the big concerns for them was an educational element to the introduction of the hijab. They didn’t want to just bring it in and have it sit on a shelf,” she told the commission. Goudar added that so far news of the new uniform piece is having a positive impact on young women in Muslim communities. (What about the negative impact it is having on the Edmonton community?)
Those wearing a hijab, who thought a career in policing was out of reach because of their cultural practices are not seeing it as a tangible goal, she said. “One young lady told me that she couldn’t wait to pass this along to her sister, who didn’t think it was possible because she wore a hijab. Now it’s an option,” she said.
“We started that conversation, and we’re hopeful we’re going to have a recruit wearing one soon.” The headbag would be black in colour, and sit underneath the standard issued Edmonton police hat. It’s projected that the hijab could be ready to go in spring or summer 2014, Goudar said.
Newly appointed city councillor Scott McKeen was also sworn in as a member of the Edmonton Police Commission Thursday, and said he was impressed and proud of the work Goudar and her team have done. He added that given the lengths that Quebec has gone to ban the cultural headpieces, the progress seen Thursday was even more impressive. (Given the lengths that Quebec has gone to ban Muslim headwear, they can expect an influx of new residents fleeing Edmonton )
“This is coming at a time when another province is going in another direction,” he told the commission. “For that reason, I’m most certainly impressed.” The proposed Quebec Charter of Values threatens to forbid Quebec’s public employees from wearing visible religious symbols – including hijabs, turbans, yarmulkes and larger-than-average crucifixes.
It wasn’t that long ago that RCMP officers were prohibited from wearing turbans, a ban was lifted by the Canadian government in 1990 allowing members to don the cultural headpieces.
Pretty soon Edmunton police women will look like this: