Most immigrants who move to Alberta, Canada, do not know the rights they and their family members have in their home and in their community. I didn’t when I came from Ethiopia. You also may not know how the laws work here in Canada. There is not shame, in not knowing. However, you may have problems, if you don’t learn them. Here is an explanation of some of the important laws:
Alberta Human Rights
You probably decided to come to Canada for opportunity, and to be free of oppression, violence or discrimination. The word, discrimination means
treating a person or a particular group of people differently, especially in a demeaning or less-than way. In Canada we are expected to treat all people fairly.”
The Alberta Human Rights Commission administers the Alberta Human Rights Act. It states you and all others in Canada have the right to not be discriminated against.
It is Unlawful to Discriminate Against Someone Because of:
- religious beliefs
- gender identity
- gender expression
- physical disability
- mental disability
- place of origin
- marital status
- source of income
- family status
- sexual orientation
This means that men and women living in Alberta have the right to:
- be treated equally and fairly.
- say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, unless it does harm to others or breaks a law.
- say, “I don’t know” and “I don’t understand” if that is true.
- disagree with others.
- ask questions.
- be treated with respect and dignity.
- make mistakes without punishment, unless it does harm to others or breaks a law.
- live in peace without threat or verbal or physical harm done to you.
- ask for help if any of the above rights have been violated.
Note: Immediately call 911 if violence is involved!
Here are some ways to think about Alberta Human Rights that violate the laws.
Important Laws for parents and their Children
- You can NOT leave your under 10-years-old child alone. In Canada, you can leave a child over 10 years-old alone but only for short periods and the home must be safe. Plus, the child must have access to a reliable telephone, emergency contacts (relatives, friends or neighbours), and a basic first aid kit.
- When your child is between 11 and 12-years-old, you may leave him or her alone for up to 3 hours. But not in circumstances requiring significant responsibility.
- You may leave your teenager, 13 to 15 years-old, unsupervised, but not overnight. But, if you leave your child home alone for too long, you could be guilty of neglect. For example, if your child has a disability, it may be unsafe to leave that child home alone.
- You can NOT expose your child to name calling, violence, chronic alcohol or drug use, threats, or someone who is acting out-of-control.
- You can NOT physically abuse (assault) your child; that is cause any trauma or injury to any part of a child’s body.
- You can NOT keep your child over 6-years-old from attending school or attaining an education.
Take action if you suspect others are neglecting or abusing a child. Call the Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-387-5437 (KIDS) to speak with a caseworker. You can call anonymously and not give your name. Or you can call and give your name.
Important Law for Adults
- You can NOT cause physical or emotional injury to your spouse, elder or anyone living in your home.
In Alberta if you experience domestic violence, call for help. Call the 24-hour line, 780-310-1818. In Calgary you can call The Distress Center. They have a 24-hour crisis line: 403-266-HELP (4357). Another option is to call the Calgary Immigrant Women’s Association for culturally sensitive support. Call 403-263-4414.
Avoid breaking human rights laws in your home. Practice the human rights that living in Canada gives you. Then you will have found the heart in your home and the home in your heart.