Corbis (Image ID: MJ001080). Available online at www.corbis.com/ Martin Jones, [16 February 2000].
Whites-Only Phone Kiosk, South Africa, n.d.
Under Apartheid, South African Blacks were barred from living in Whites-only areas and forced to live in racially segregated townships. They were not even allowed to use the same water fountains or phone booths as Whites. Based on theories of racial superiority, Apartheid denied Blacks basic rights and freedoms that European South Africans enjoyed.
As citizens of a multicultural country that has experienced some hard lessons of its own, Canadians are sensitive to the need to preserve our differences as well as our similarities. The equality rights section of the Charter guarantees that all Canadians will be treated the same way by the legal system whether they speak English or French, are black or white, or are men or women. While equality before the law seems like a simple and obvious provision, we must remember that it is an important, and relatively recent, innovation in human history. Many countries and legal systems continue to treat their citizens differently based on such characteristics as gender, religion, and skin colour. Probably the best-known example of such discrimination in recent years is the Apartheid system in South Africa. Under Apartheid, citizens of African descent were treated very differently from citizens of European heritage. In addition to being denied economic opportunity, mobility rights and other basic democratic freedoms, Blacks were subject to arrest without trial and extended prison sentences.
National Archives of Canada (PA-137065, photo by Walter Curtin).
Two Young Girls during Brotherhood Week, October 1960.
The obvious friendship of these two young girls was the subject of a poster for Brotherhood Week. In Canada, the law ensures that citizens are not discriminated against because of differences such as colour, culture, language, religion, or gender. The government policy of multiculturalism encourages people of different cultures, ethnicities, and beliefs to come together as individuals and communities. Canada is one of the few nations on earth in which a multitude of different ethnic groups coexist in a peaceful and generally amicable fashion.