Blacks in Canadian Human Rights and Equity History

Before human rights legislation, Canadian courts supported the right of businesses to refuse service to whomever they chose. Canadian laws did not protect individuals from discrimination.

The efforts of Black Canadians and allies from many communities led to anti-discrimination legislation in Ontario, which laid the foundation for human rights legislation in Ontario and across Canada. Today, these laws protect the rights of all Canadians, based on race, gender, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability and a number of other grounds.;xNLx;;xNLx;The courage and struggle of Black Canadians for human rights led to revolutionary change in the course of Canadian law and Canadian history, which is now embedded in the Canadian Constitution through the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Their pursuit of fair non-discriminatory policies has changed the face of Canada.;xNLx;;xNLx;Barbara Hall, Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Rights Commission

Eric Morgan is acquitted of 2006 murder -- sues Peel police

Eric Morgan is acquitted of a murder after spending three years in prison. He files a $25 million lawsuit against Peel Regional Police.

Jermain Carby shot and killed by Peel police

Jermaine Carby is a passenger in a car stopped by Peel police.

Racial Profiling

This short video explores racial profiling experiences of African Canadians.

Testers challenge government to uphold anti-discrimination laws

After the Fair Accommodation Practices Act is passed which prohibits discrimination in services, many Blacks and other people of colour find that they still are being denied service in restaurants, including Kay's Café in Dresden.

Christie v York Corporation [1940] 1 D.L.R. 81 (S.C.C.)

On July 11, 1936, Fred Christie and some friends visited the Montréal Forum's tavern after a Canadiens hockey game. Christie, a Black man, was refused service because of his race.

Ontario Racial Discrimination Act

This landmark legislation prohibits the publication or display of any notice, sign, symbol or emblem indicating ethnic, racial or religious discrimination.

King v Desmond [1947], 20 M.P.R. 297 (N.S.S.C.)

Viola Desmond is tried and convicted for tax evasion for sitting on the main floor "Whites only" section of the Roseland Theatre.

Leonard Austin Braithwaite (1923-2012)

World War II veteran. Lawyer. Politician.

Viola Davis Desmond (1914-1965)

Entrepreneur. Activist.

Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters

The Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters was a labour union organized in the United States by African American employees of the Pullman Company in 1925. It was led by A. Philip Randolph and Milton P. Webster.

UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights is ratified by the United Nations. This is the first international document recognizing human rights as the foundation of peace, justice and freedom.

Ontario Fair Employment Practices Act

Premier Leslie Frost's government passes the country's first Fair Employment Practices legislation. By the 1960s most jurisdictions in Canada had passed some form of fair practices legislation.

Charles Roach (1933-2012)

Lawyer. Activist.

Ontario Fair Accommodation Practices Act

Ontario Premier Leslie Frost brings in the Fair Accommodation Practices Act which prohibits discrimination in services, facilities, and accommodations in public spaces.

Canada Fair Employment Practices Act

This legislation protects workers against discrimination in employment and in trade union membership on the grounds of race, colour, national origin, and religion.

Legal segregation ends in Nova Scotia

Legal segregation of schools in Nova Scotia is ended.

West Indian Domestic Workers Scheme

Canada introduces the West Indian Domestic Workers Scheme that allows women from the Caribbean to come to Canada as live-in domestic servants. They are permitted to apply for landed immigrant status after one year.

Regina v McKay [1955] 113 C.C.C. 56 (Ont. Co. Ct.)

Owner of Kay's Café in Dresden, Ontario is taken to court for refusing to serve Black customers. This is the first successful prosecution under the Fair Accommodation Practices Act.

Canadian Bill of Rights

Under the government of Prime Minister John Diefenbaker, Canada enacts a Bill of Rights. Because it is not part of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights proves to have limited effectiveness.

Ontario Human Rights Code

Ontario introduces the first Human Rights Code in Canada which prohibits discrimination in employment, services and housing. The Code replaces previous legislation and provides protections based on more grounds. It also puts mechanisms in place to redress and remedy the human rights violation.

Canada abolishes its racist immigration policy

Under Prime Minister Diefenbaker, Canada begins to reform its immigration policy to replace the "White Canada" immigration policy that was designed to accept mainly European immigrants.

Dr. Daniel G. Hill (1923-2003)

Sociologist. Historian. Civil servant. Human rights champion.

Legal segregation ends in Ontario

The Separate Schools Act is amended to remove the provision that allows for the segregation of Black students. The last segregated school in Ontario is closed in 1965 following lobbying by African Canadians.

Ontario's last segregated school closes

The last segregated Black school in Ontario, in Essex County, closes.

Immigration points system introduced

The points system is introduced by Prime Minister Pearson to assess immigrants based on education, employment opportunities, age, and fluency in English or French.

Canadian Multicultural Policy

The federal government under Prime Minister Trudeau introduces the Multicultural Policy that recognizes the cultural and racial diversity of Canadian society and acknowledges the freedom of all members of Canadian society to preserve, enhance and share their cultural heritage.

Canadian Human Rights Act

Under Prime Minister Trudeau, the government passes the Canadian Human Rights Act and establishes the Canadian Human Rights Commission to administer the Act.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Under the government of Prime Minister Trudeau, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms is enacted. The Charter is entrenched in the Constitution of Canada and guarantees certain political and civil rights for all Canadians. It creates the legal framework for defending human rights.

Legal segregation ends in Nova Scotia schools

The last segregated Black school in Canada, located in Nova Scotia, closes.

Royal Commission on Equality in Employment (Abella Commission)

Judge Rosalie Abella is commissioned by the Government of Canada to examine equality in employment. The Commission finds that individuals from four groups, including racial minorities, experience systemic discrimination and are excluded from equal participation in the labour market.

Ontario Employment Equity Act

The province of Ontario, under Premier Bob Rae, passes the Employment Equity Act. The act requires employers in Ontario to address the persistent and systemic employment discrimination that racial minorities, women, Aboriginal peoples and persons with disabilities face.

Ontario Special Investigations Unit

Ontario creates the Special Investigations Unit after public pressure following a number of police shootings of unarmed civilians, many of whom are young Black men.

Ontario repeals the Employment Equity Act

Under Premier Mike Harris, Ontario's Employment Equity Act is repealed. The government also dismantles the Anti-Racism Secretariat.

Hugh Burnett (1918-1991)

World War II veteran. Carpenter. Activist.

Bromley Armstrong (1926-)

Factory worker. Union activist. Human rights activist.

Delegation travels to Ottawa to advocate for fair immigration policies

Donald Moore leads a delegation to Ottawa to protest the country's racist immigration policy.

Donald Willard Moore (1891-1994)

Tailor. Activist.

Dudley Laws (1934-2011)

Welder. Mechanic. Immigration consultant. Activist.

Black Action Defence Committee

Lester Donaldson, a mentally ill Black man, is shot and killed by a Toronto police officer in his rooming house apartment. This is the first of eight such police shootings over the next four years, most of which will involve unarmed Black people. Between 1978 and 1988, 14 unarmed Black people were killed by Toronto police.

Urban Alliance on Race Relations

The Urban Alliance on Race Relations is formed in 1975 by a group of Toronto citizens to "promote a stable and healthy multi-racial environment in the community."

African Canadian Legal Clinic

The African Canadian Legal Clinic is established to address anti-Black racism and other forms of systemic and institutional discrimination in Canadian society.

Dr. Wilson A. Head

Professor of Social Work. Human rights champion.

Ontario Black History Society

The OBHS is founded by Dr. Daniel Hill, Donna Hill, Dr. Wilson Head, Wilson Brooks and Lorraine Hubbard. The Society is dedicated to the acknowledgement and preservation of the contributions to Canada’s development by Canadians of African descent.

Black History Week

Through efforts of many individuals and organizations such as the Ontario Black History Society, Toronto is the first municipality in Canada to proclaim Black History Week.

Black Canadians join Canada's military in World War II

Black Canadians are now accepted into the Canadian military.

Saskatchewan Bill of Rights Act

Saskatchewan enacts Canada's first general law prohibiting discrimination.

Canadian Employment Equity Act

Based on the recommendations of the Abella Commission, the federal government brings in the Employment Equity Act.

Stanley Grizzle (1918- )

World War II veteran. Sleeping car porter. Civil servant. Union activist. Citizenship court judge.

KKK in Amherstburg, Ontario

In Amherstburg, Ontario, a cross is burned in the town centre. In addition, threatening phone calls are made to Black residents and the Black Baptist Church is defaced. The town welcome sign is spray-painted "Amherstburg Home of the KKK."

The Clarion (Nova Scotia, 1946-1956)

The Clarion is Nova Scotia's first Black-owned and published newspaper.

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