Halifax woman felt 'disgusting' after martial arts class separated by gender

Kris Sims, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:05 PM ET

HALIFAX -- Politicians are scrambling to put a brave face on an ugly situation at a Halifax recreation centre.

Sonja Power, 17, was on the cusp of earning her black belt in Aikido at a Halifax dojo when a new man joined the class. He refused to be in contact with women or to spar with any of the female students.

Power and the other women were told to stay on one side of the room and not to approach the Muslim man to respect his faith.

"I felt like a second class citizen, that I was so disgusting and unworthy that this man doesn't even want to interact with me," Power told QMI Agency. "It doesn't make any sense, why would something you choose, your religion, trump something I'm born with, my gender, we wouldn't let a religion trump someone's race."

The incident happened more than a year ago and Power's mother, Michele Walsh, said she has contacted every level of government but was ignored. She said the sensei told her to "get used to" gender separation in Canada.

A similar situation at York University reignited the issue.


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