Pastafarian defends right to wear a colander in driver's license photo

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He’s an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, but this Surrey resident is fighting ICBC for his right to wear his religious headgear–a colander–in his driver’s license photo.

36-year-old Pastafarian Obi Canuel first tried to get his colander in the picture last November when he visited an ICBC office to renew his license, reports the Sun.

Canuel explains in a YouTube video posted online August 3, 2014, that he encountered a very calm and courteous employee who had to look up ICBC protocol for unfamiliar religious headgear.

A photo was taken of Canuel wearing his colander, and he was issued a temporary paper license. However, the official license wasn’t sent to him, and this kicked off what remains an ongoing battle between Canuel and ICBC over photo approval.

Ultimately, Canuel was informed that if he wanted a license, he’d have to take off the colander. In a letter sent to Canuel in July, ICBC wrote: “Based on the information you have provided, we understand there is no religious requirement that prohibits you from removing the colander for the purpose of taking the photo to appear on your driver’s licence.”

Canuel, however, counters this decision with ICBC’s own policy: “ICBC affirms your rights to religious expression. You will not be asked to remove any headgear that does not interfere with facial recognition technology as long as it is worn in conjunction with religious practice, or is needed as a result of medical treatment.​”

Members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, aka Pastafarians, believe in a “rejection of dogma,” take Fridays as religious holidays, and enjoy beer. It is largely considered a real religion, and Canuel’s church is a registered non-profit in British Columbia.

Four countries, including the United States, permit Pastafarians to wear colanders in their driver’s license photos. Canuel points out that his B.C. services card was issued with the colander photo in question, too.

“I don’t think ICBC should be making decisions about what kind of religious headgear is appropriate or not,” Canuel told CTV Vancouver.

In his video, Canuel is urging anyone who agrees to contact ICBC and join the fight.

Photo: Obi Canuel in his YouTube video (Screenshot)

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Lindsay William-Ross Lindsay is a Senior Editor at Vancity Buzz, and currently runs the site's Food section. A fourth generation Vancouverite, she spent the last two decades in Los Angeles, where she was EIC of the city's top blog, earned her MA, attended culinary school, and was an English professor (among other things). Lindsay's first published piece was December 1980 in The Province; it was her letter to Santa. E-mail: lindsay@vancitybuzz.com
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