Rights | The Canadian Encyclopedia

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  • Article

    Rights of Indigenous Peoples in Canada

    It is difficult to generalize about definitions of Indigenous rights because of the diversity among First Nations, Métis and Inuit peoples in Canada. Broadly speaking, however, Indigenous rights are inherent, collective rights that flow from the original occupation of the land that is now Canada, and from social orders created before the arrival of Europeans to North America. For many, the concept of Indigenous rights can be summed up as the right to independence through self-determination regarding governance, land, resources and culture.

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  • Article

    Indigenous Title and the War of 1812

    In the first decade of the 19th century, relations between Great Britain and the United States deteriorated, primarily due to the widening influence of the Napoleonic Wars. At the centre of this movement, two Shawnee brothers implored Indigenous peoples to unite in order to defend their dwindling lands against the growing incursions of Anglo-American settlers and the United States government. The promise of an Indigenous state never came to fruition. After the War of 1812, the United States and Britain found it more advantageous to ignore Aboriginal title.

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  • Article

    Alimony

    The obligation upon a husband to support his separated wife was embodied in the first written laws, the Code of Hammurabi, about 1792 to 1750 BC. This obligation was known in early English ecclesiastical law, and, in 1867, was shifted into the secular realm by Parliament.

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  • Article

    Assisted Suicide in Canada

    Assisted suicide is the intentional termination of one’s life, assisted by someone who provides the means or knowledge, or both. (See also Suicide.) Between 1892 and 2016, assisted suicide was illegal in Canada under section 241(b) of the Criminal Code. In 2015, after decades of various legal challenges, the Supreme Court of Canada decided unanimously to allow physician-assisted suicide. In June 2016, the federal government passed the Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Act, which established the eligibility criteria and procedural safeguards for medically assisted suicide. In March 2021, new legislation was passed that expanded eligibility for MAID. This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

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  • Collection

    Citizenship Challenge

    A program of Historica Canada, the Citizenship Challenge invites Canadians to deepen their knowledge of Canada’s past and present in order to gain a fuller understanding of the country. In addition to a mock citizenship test based on Canada’s real citizenship exam, we offer educational tools and quizzes relating to Canadian history and civics, which can be used in classrooms or by the public. This page brings together these resources, as well as some supplementary...

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  • Article

    Civil Liberties

    Civil Liberties Civil liberties, generally, freedoms to do certain things without restraint from government, although there can be some restraint from private individuals or agencies eg, an individual may publish opinions without interference from government, but a newspaper or magazine is not obliged to publish them. In this respect civil liberties can be distinguished from civil rights. Constitutionally, the term civil rights appears in s92(13) of the Constitution Act of 1867 but, in this context,...

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  • Article

    Delgamuukw Case

    The Delgamuukw case (1997) (also known as Delgamuukw v. British Columbia) concerned the definition, the content and the extent of Aboriginal title (i.e., ownership of traditional lands). The Supreme Court of Canada observed that Aboriginal title constituted an ancestral right protected by section 35(1) of the Constitution Act, 1982. Influenced by the Calder case (1973), the ruling in the Delgamuukw case had an impact on other court cases about Aboriginal rights and title, including in the Tsilhqot’in case (2014).

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  • Article

    Duty to Consult

    The duty to consult is a statutory, contractual and common law obligation that must be fulfilled by the Crown prior to taking actions or making decisions that may have consequences for the rights of Indigenous peoples in Canada. The duty to consult has been affirmed and clarified by various Supreme Court of Canada rulings, such the Haida case (2004) and the Beckman v. Little Salmon/Carmacks case (2010). The duty to consult is considered by many to be an important step toward reconciliation with Indigenous peoples.

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  • Article

    Enfranchisement (Plain-Language Summary)

    Throughout much of Canadian history, a First Nations person would lose their Indian status if they were enfranchised. An enfranchised person is someone who has the right to vote in elections. A First Nations person who is deemed a Status Indian has certain rights and benefits granted to them through the Indian Act. (This article is a plain-language summary of Enfranchisement. If you are interested in reading about this topic in more depth, please see our full-length entry Enfranchisement).

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  • Article

    Everett Klippert Case

    Everett George Klippert was the only Canadian ever declared a dangerous sexual offender and sentenced to what amounted to life in prison, for no other reason than he was a gay man. Outrage over that sentence, which was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 1967, led to the decriminalization of gay sex two years later. Klippert was released from prison in 1971. In 2016, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau indicated he would recommend a pardon for Klippert. The following year, the Trudeau government formally apologized and issued a compensation package to men who were charged, convicted and punished simply because they were gay.

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    https://d3d0lqu00lnqvz.cloudfront.net/media/media/cdfb214e-87f3-49a9-bd99-4eb1d324fcae.jpg Everett Klippert Case
  • Macleans

    Fetal Rights Issue Raised

    This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on August 19, 1996. Partner content is not updated. When Venus Carter realized she was pregnant with her fourth child, she knew it was time to confront her 15-year addiction to crack cocaine. Her three other children, although physically unharmed by her habit, had already been removed from her Toronto home by children's aid officials.

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    https://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/images/tce_placeholder.jpg?v=e9dca980c9bdb3aa11e832e7ea94f5d9 Fetal Rights Issue Raised
  • Article

    Freedom of Information

    During the 1960s and 1970s citizens, as users of government services, began to feel entitled to certain rights arising out of their relationship with government.

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  • Article

    Fugitive Slave Act of 1850

    The Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 was enacted by the United States Congress on 18 September 1850. It extended the reach of the institution of slavery into the free Northern states, stating that refugees from enslavement living there could be returned to enslavement in the South once captured. The Act led thousands of freedom-seekers to take refuge in Canada. It was repealed 28 June 1864.

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  • Macleans

    Gay Rights Upheld in Alberta

    This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on April 13, 1998. Partner content is not updated. Delwin Vriend never set out to be a gay-rights poster boy. Last week, the 32-year-old computer technologist at the University of Alberta in Edmonton sounded drained by his seven-year battle with the Alberta government over its unwillingness to provide equal rights to gays and lesbians.

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  • Article

    Human Rights

    Human rights are rights that we all have by virtue of our shared humanity. Depending on the nature of the right, both individuals and groups can assert human rights. Human rights as we understand them today are a relatively modern concept. All human rights are indivisible, interrelated and interdependent. None has automatic precedence over any other. The realization of human rights is a constant struggle on the part of people who suffer injustices and who seek redress. Human rights are an important part of the social fabric of Canadian society. Canadians have also played a role in the evolution of human rights on the international stage.

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