Concert cancelled due to kirpans

A weekend concert at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre that was abruptly cancelled after some people arrived wearing ceremonial knives was shuttered because of a threat to safety, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

CALGARY — A weekend concert at the Calgary Telus Convention Centre that was abruptly cancelled after some people arrived wearing ceremonial knives was shuttered because of a threat to safety, a spokeswoman said Tuesday.

Management decided to cancel the concert by legendary Punjabi singer Gurdas Mann after “a number of ticket holders refused to comply with security measures,” said Heather Lundy.

Concertgoers had to go through a security check area, with a wand that beeps when it detects metal.

“Any sharp metal items are requested to be checked into the security area and then people can pick them up after,” Lundy said in a subsequent email interview. “There was only one patron who did not want to comply with leaving his larger kirpan with security.”

She did not explain the discrepancy between the reported number of people who did not comply with security and could not be reached to clarify.

About 10 people arrived wearing the ceremonial dagger that baptized Sikhs must wear at all times, according to conference organizer Nirmal Dhaliwal.

The sold-out event was packed with 2,500 people and another 500 were waiting in line when the decision was made to close it down at 9:30 p.m.

Asked why the centre didn’t simply refuse entry to those who wouldn’t give up their kirpans, Lundy replied, “safety is our No. 1 priority.”

Dhaliwal conceded that his contract with the centre stipulated that no weapons were allowed inside the concert. But he said the daggers should not be considered weapons because they’re something Sikhs must always carry with them as part of their body.

Concert organizers are urged as part of contract talks to tell the centre of any cultural or religious matters that should be addressed, Lundy said, adding that had the kirpan issue been raised before the concert, a compromise could have been reached.

And who would be responsible for reimbursing the ticket holders? “This would be a legal decision,” said Lundy.

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