Canada: The Niqab Enters the Nursery

Last week at the downtown YMCA pre-school in Toronto, Canada, reporters observed a childcare worker covered head to toe in black cloth, with only her hands showing and eyeglasses poking through an eye slit.

The federal minister of families, children and social development, Jean-Yves Duclos, arrived to give a news conference on childcare policy but first sat down to play with preschool children for the cameras. The worker in the niqab sat at a second table with other children and did not interact with the minister. The children and minders then cleared the room for the briefing.

Asked afterward when the YMCA started hiring women in niqabs, senior vice-president for child and family development Linda Cottes said the “Y” has never excluded women wearing the niqab. Asked again when such hiring started, she said only, “We are inclusive.”

Nursery school teachers are welcome to wear the full-face Islamic veil, or…

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