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1977 - The Canadian Human Rights Act is passed, but does not apply to Native people under the Indian Act

January 2, 1977


The Canadian Human Rights Act is a statute passed by the Parliament of Canada in 1977 with the express goal of extending the law to ensure equal opportunity to individuals who may be victims of discriminatory practices based on a set of prohibited grounds such as sex, sexual orientation, race, marital status, gender identity or expression, creed, age, colour, disability, political or religious belief. The Act protects people who work for or receive services from the federal government, First Nations governments or private companies, like banks and broadcasters, that must follow rules set by the federal government. - Canadian Human Rights Commission


The rights of Aboriginal peoples merit unique protections because of their particular history. These include individual and collective rights to their cultural and religious traditions, rights to autonomy and self-government, and the right not to be subjected to forced assimilation or to the forcible removal of their children to any other group ( Canadian Encyclopedia )

However, when the Canadian Human Rights Act was first created in 1977, it did not apply to the Indian Act. This meant that hundreds of thousands of people living on First Nations reserves were left out. They had nowhere to turn if they were discriminated against by the federal government or by a First Nations government about something controlled by the Indian Act, such as who can live on a reserve or who can vote in a local election. Then in 2008, Parliament changed the Canadian Human Rights Act to include matters under the Indian Act. Finally, everyone in Canada, including people living on First Nations reserves, had the same access to human rights justice. - Canadian Human Rights Commission

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