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Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada: Calls to Action

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada (TRC) was officially launched in 2008 as part of the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement. This multi-faceted agreement was intended to compensate survivors for the harms they suffered in residential schools, and to work towards a more just and equitable future for Indigenous peoples. The TRC was also meant to lay the foundation for lasting reconciliation across Canada. The TRC’s six-volume final report was released on 15 December 2015. It argued that the residential school program resulted in cultural genocide and outlined 94 Calls to Action.

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Marriage in Canada

Marriage remains one of the most important social institutions in Canada. It has undergone profound changes since the 1960s. The marriage rate is in decline and the traditional idea of a family is being transformed. After the turn of the millennium, the marriage rate fell to 4.7 marriages per 1,000 people (compared to 10.9 in the 1940s). Married couples are still the predominant family structure. But between 2001 and 2016, the number of common-law couples rose 51.4 per cent; more than five times the increase for married couples over the same period. The definition of what constitutes a married couple also changed in 2005 with the legalization of same-sex marriage. In 2016, 65.8 per cent of Canadian families were headed by married couples; down from 70.5 per cent in 2001. Marriage falls under federal jurisdiction, but the provinces regulate marriage ceremonies and grant marriage licences.

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Old-Age Pension

The old-age pension is a government initiative to help Canadians avoid poverty in retirement. It has changed from a strictly anti-poverty measure, that often humiliated the elderly, into an accepted, mainstream aspect of post-work life.

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Family Compact

The term Family Compact is an epithet, or insulting nickname; it is used to describe the network of men who dominated the legislative, bureaucratic, business, religious and judicial centres of power in Upper Canada (present-day Ontario) from the early- to mid-1800s. Members of the Family Compact held largely conservative and loyalist views. They were against democratic reform and responsible government. By the mid-19th century, immigration, the union of Upper and Lower Canada, and the work of various democratic reformers had diminished the group’s power. The equivalent to the Family Compact in Lower Canada was the Château Clique.

Macleans

Irish Referendum Campaign

On the Falls Road in the western precincts of Belfast, right in the heart of the city's Roman Catholic strongholds, there is an exclusive watering hole with a singularly appropriate name. They call the place the Felons' Club.

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Somalia Affair

In 1992–93, Canada contributed military forces to UNITAF, a United Nations–backed humanitarian mission in the African nation of Somalia. In 1993, Canadian soldiers from the now-defunct Airborne Regiment tortured and killed a Somali teenager named Shidane Arone. These and other violent abuses during the mission shocked Canadians and damaged the country’s international reputation. They also led to a public inquiry that revealed serious failures of leadership at the highest levels of the Canadian Armed Forces, kick-starting reforms aimed a professionalizing the officer corps.

This article contains sensitive material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

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Social and Welfare Services

There is a general division in Canada between social security programs and social and welfare services. Social security programs, which are the responsibility of all levels of government, provide direct economic assistance in one form or another to individuals or families. Included in this category are programs such as Family Allowances, Old Age Pensions and provincial and municipal social-assistance programs.

Macleans

Sexual Harassment on Police Force

This article was originally published in Maclean’s magazine on April 10, 1995. Partner content is not updated.

For Alice Clark, joining the RCMP in 1980 was the fulfilment of a teenage dream. Two years later, the Hamilton native was posted to the 60-member detachment at Red Deer, Alta., where, at first, the men she worked with were welcoming and helpful. Then, she was transferred to city traffic duty.

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Deportation from Canada

Under the Constitution, the federal government has power, through immigration laws, to remove (or deport) foreign-born people from the country. The conditions for deportation have changed over the years, and deportation has been used for political as well as security purposes. Canadian deportation policy – often controversial – provides a window into the concerns of the state over the course of its history.

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Elizabeth Wettlaufer Case

Elizabeth Wettlaufer is a former nurse who murdered eight elderly patients and attempted to harm six others in southwestern Ontario between 2007 and 2016. One of the most prolific serial killers in Canadian history, she was sentenced to life in prison for the murders in 2017. The case prompted widespread public outrage and made headlines internationally. It later resulted in lawsuits against Wettlaufer, and the nursing homes she worked for, and a sweeping provincial inquiry into flaws in Ontario’s long-term care system.

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Secularism in Quebec

The Quiet Revolution (1960–1970) gave rise to secularism within Quebec society. The latter became both secular by widening the separation between Church and State, as well as non-confessional by removing religion from institutions. 

However, the issue of secularism is still a matter for debate. In June 2019, the passage of the Act Respecting the Laicity of the State fueled many discussions about the place of religion in public domain.

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Public Health in Canada

Illness and disease are communal problems. While individual interventions can have an impact, they are less effective than measures that can be done at a community level. Preventing disease and promoting health among individuals and the population at large is the purpose of public health. Public health is managed by local, regional, national and international public health authorities. Public health interventions include research, prevention, education and emergency preparedness. The most important public health interventions for reducing mortality over the past 150 years have included cleaning the water and air, making roads safer and immunizing against infectious diseases. Ironically, as is often said by public health practitioners, success in public health is often invisible when measures are working. In Canada, the rapid emergence, urgency, severity, global scope and long persistence of the COVID-19 pandemic has put all aspects of public health in the public and political spotlight to a greater degree than ever before. For some Canadians, this has resulted in a loss of confidence in public health authorities, while others have realized the importance of maintaining and funding public health.

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Strikes and Lockouts

A strike is the withholding of labour by workers in order to obtain better wages or working conditions. A lockout is the opposite, being the temporary shutdown of a business by an employer to compel employees to accept certain conditions.

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Rebellion in Upper Canada

The 1837 rebellion in Upper Canada was a less violent, more limited affair than the uprising earlier that year in Lower Canada. However, its leaders, including William Lyon Mackenzie, were equally serious in their demands. They wanted democratic reform and an end to the rule of a privileged oligarchy. The rebellion itself failed, but its very failure helped pave the way for moderate and careful political change in British North America. This included the union of Upper and Lower Canada into the Province of Canada and the eventual introduction of responsible government.

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Corridart (1976)

Corridart dans la rue Sherbrooke was an exhibit of installation artworks organized by Melvin Charney and commissioned for the 1976 Olympic Summer Games in Montreal. The exhibit stretched for several kilometres along Sherbrooke Street. It comprised 16 major installations, about 80 minor installations, and several small performance venues and related projects. It was funded by the Quebec culture ministry and was intended as an international showcase for Quebec artists. But roughly a week after it was unveiled, Montreal mayor Jean Drapeau had the exhibit destroyed on the grounds that it was obscene. Most of the artists involved did not recover their works. Drapeau never apologized and subsequent legal actions dragged on for more than a decade. Given the size, scope and budget of the exhibit, the dismantling of Corridart might be the single largest example of arts censorship in Canadian history.