ICBC denies licence to Pastafarian who wants to wear colander in photo

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A local Pastafarian says he will continue to fight for his right to wear his religious headgear–a colander–in his driver’s licence photo, even now that ICBC has stopped issuing him temporary permits.

Surrey’s Obi Canuel is an ordained minister in the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, and he has been tangled in a long-running battle with the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia over his right to wear his Sacred Colander on his head in his licence photo.

Canuel’s troubles with ICBC began in November 2013 when he went in to renew his licence and have his photo taken. Since then, Canuel has regularly had to go back to ICBC to be issued a temporary paper permit while the matter of the headgear was being sorted.

However, on Friday, October 3, Canuel was issued a permit for one day only, and now cannot get licenced to drive unless he has his photo taken bare-headed.

Canuel says ICBC has not made it clear to him why his interim licences have been cut off, and at this point he cannot drive.

“I’ll admit the temptation to just give up my religious conviction and get the photo is pretty strong, but I also know I have many fellow supporters who would be let down,” Canuel told Vancity Buzz via e-mail, adding: “And His Noodliness would rather I kept fighting.”

ICBC’s policy on headgear in photos is as follows: “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.​”

Adam Grossman, an ICBC spokesman, told the Sun “we will always try to accommodate customers with head coverings where their faith prohibits them from removing it. Mr. Canuel could not provide us with any proof that his faith prohibits it.”

Members of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, aka Pastafarians, believe in a “rejection of dogma.” Pastafarianism 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 licence photos.

Canuel calls ICBC “a bit starchy” in their stance, and wishes they would “try to embrace the spaghetti.”

Legal action isn’t an appealing option for Canuel, who says he’s been accused of “wasting time and money on something silly” already.

“It seems to me that ICBC are the ones who could have easily avoided this whole thing,” Canuel says. “In any case, I know that there are starchy people who don’t believe in the spaghetti, and I do not want to annoy anyone further with long drawn out legal action.”

Left with no options but to find alternate transportation, Canuel says he is going to mull his next steps while taking a few more steps of his own. “I’m not going to get angry or upset. This is an opportunity for me to walk more, and get more exercise. Carbohydrates are necessary for a good cardio workout,” he observes.

Right now, Canuel plans on thinking things through before taking any further action. “It is wise to consider your noodles carefully before dinner,” notes Canuel.

For his fellow Pasatafarians, Canuel says he has drawn strength from their support to keep fighting, and he vows to “not give in to ICBC’s temptations.” He also urges anyone wishing to further help him out in his “noodly battle” to get in touch with ICBC.

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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