If someone treats you in an unfair or negative way because of your race, sex or age, they would be guilty of discrimination. But before 1977, there was no federal law to turn to when a person believed they were being discriminated against.
Then in 1977, Parliament created the Canadian Human Rights Act. It was the first federal human rights law in Canada, and the first federal law against discrimination.
The law also created two separate organizations to apply the Act and ensure its effectiveness:
The Canadian Human Rights Commission receives discrimination complaints and helps people settle them. It also promotes the idea of equality in Canada.
The Canadian Human Rights Tribunal acts like a court. Sometimes the Commission sends discrimination complaints to the Tribunal, which then hears the evidence about the complaint and makes decisions on whether discrimination has taken place and what should be done about it.
The purpose of the Canadian Human Rights Act was the same in 1977 as it is today: to promote equal opportunity and give people in Canada a way to challenge discrimination when based on any of 11 different grounds (reasons) listed in the Act, such as race, age and sex.
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.