Improve Access to Justice for Aboriginal Women in Canada: Canadian Human Rights Commission Annual Report
OTTAWA, March 4, 2014 Fear of retaliation is among the top reasons why Aboriginal women in Canada won’t come forward when they experience discrimination, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) says in its Annual Report [PDF format 1.37MB], tabled in Parliament today.
The report presents key findings from a series of roundtable discussions the CHRC held with Aboriginal women from across Canada in 2013. During the discussions, the women were invited to share their experiences. Many of their stories cited the complexity of the human rights complaint process, language barriers, lack of awareness, lack of support and fear of retaliation as barriers to accessing human rights justice.
"We heard women say that retaliation for filing a complaint can and does happen, and that stronger protections are needed," said David Langtry, Acting Chief Commission of the CHRC. "We are examining ways to help people assert their rights, particularly those who may be most at risk."
The CHRC issued the following call to action in its Annual Report to Parliament:
- The CHRC urges the Government of Canada, advocacy groups, professional organizations, and First Nations community leaders to take concerted action to eliminate barriers to human rights justice and develop stronger in-community supports to ensure that victims of discrimination can bring complaints forward.
- The CHRC may, in special circumstances, initiate its own complaints so as to ensure vulnerable individuals remain safe and protected from acts of discrimination.
- The CHRC reminds everyone, including federal and First Nations governments, that the Canadian Human Rights Act prohibits threatening, intimidating or retaliating against an individual who has made a human rights complaint, given evidence, or assisted in any way in respect to a complaint. A person who is guilty of doing so is liable on summary conviction to a fine of up to $50,000.
Other human rights issues examined in the CHRC’s Annual Report include transgender rights and the rights of employees with caregiving responsibilities.
The report also presents a breakdown of complaints received in 2013. Notably, mental health issues accounted for one in five. Complaints related to mental health fall under the ground of disability, which accounted for 55% of the discrimination complaints the CHRC received in 2013.
The CHRC’s Annual Report [PDF format 1.37MB] is available to view or download.
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Canadian Human Rights Commission
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