What should a foreign visitor know about human rights in Canada?
February 1, 2005 9:55 PM   Subscribe

So, you're an ESL Student from Mexico, Korea or China. You're fairly new to Canada (specifically, British Columbia). What would be important for you to know about your human rights in your new location? What's the best way to bridge the language gap between you, and the person explaining your rights to you?
posted by stray to Society & Culture (10 answers total)
 
Most Mexicans, Koreans and Chinese ESL students that come to Vancouver represent an educated and very wealthy segment of their home country's population. They are a lucrative market, and so they're handled gently by the authorities. Human rights are generally not an issue for them. Immigration issues come up for those who wish to stay. I know some people stay illegally. I would guess, then, that it would be important to know things about immigration law. Also, I suppose family planning could also be an important issue for visitors (possibility of marriage, abortion, birth, etc.) Finally, the availability of medical treatment, tho most students cover that before arriving in Canada. For most foreign students, minor brushes with the law (for recreational drug use, etc.) is also an issue, but since in the specific case of Vancouver, the police is so incredibly relaxed about it, I don't think it's a big issue.
posted by ori at 11:32 PM on February 1, 2005


Thanks ori. I should perhaps make myself more clear-- I've been approached by a youth group of ESL student to present to them information on their humans rights. More specifically, what legal rights they have should they be harrassed or discriminated against under one of BC's 13 grounds of discrimation. I was wondering if there was something in particular...something that I might, as a Canadian, take for granted, which they might not realize they have legal protection from in this country. I don't expect ignorance from these people-- I'm quite sure that they're well educated, and are likely to be well informed. I also have some training in these kinds of presentations. Still, never having presented to a similar group before, I was wondering if perhaps someone out there "wish they'd known that" when they first got here. I'm also slightly worried about the language barried, and how I should address that.
posted by stray at 11:48 PM on February 1, 2005


>what legal rights they have should they be harrassed or discriminated against under one of BC's 13 grounds of discrimation

stray, what are these 13 grounds of discrimination?
posted by seawallrunner at 8:21 AM on February 2, 2005


I think the only thing they really need to know is that if they think there's an issue, there's no need to be afraid to contact appropriate agencies.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:22 AM on February 2, 2005


I'd think your general purpose talk is probably close enough, but would suggest that you include things specifically related to language. What rights do they have to have an interpreter present if they're arrested, for example. What rights do they have to receive government documentation in their own language, or, if not rights, at least expectations, since governments often translate more than they are required to. If you recommend government or NGO organizations that deal with discrimination issues, try to find out which ones offer services in non-English languages.
posted by jacquilynne at 10:01 AM on February 2, 2005


Age
Ancestry
Colour
Family Status
Marital Status
Physical and Mental Disability
Place of Origin
Political Belief
Race
Religion
Sex (including gender and pregnancy)
Sexual orientation
Unrelated criminal conviction

Thanks, all. And good point, jacquilynne. I'll look into that. Merci!
posted by stray at 10:45 AM on February 2, 2005


This doesn't relate specifically to ESL students, but I think an important thing to cover would be jurisdiction. Human Rights are protected under provincial Human Rights Acts, the Canadian Human Rights Acts, and the Charter. Each has different prohibited grounds for discrimination and each applies in different situations. (e.g. the Charter would affect rights if arrested etc., but the federal or provincial acts apply to jobs with private employers etc.).

Also, you might talk about the difference between "discrimination against" and "discrimination between/based on". (i.e. Treating people differently based on these things is illegal, and it's not really about whether or not one group is harmed).
posted by duck at 11:22 AM on February 2, 2005


if they think there's an issue, there's no need to be afraid to contact appropriate agencies.

I think that merits repeating: people who work in government agencies in Canada (police, customs, etc.) have a very different attitute than those in Mexico, South Korea, and China. For one thing, they don't react well to bribery attempts, and family connections (of those they are dealing with) mean much less (that is, justice is much less dependent on who is being judged). They do not risk their jobs if they follow the law to the letter.

So yes, talk about rights, but also talk about how interacting with those in authority will be different than in their home countries, and how much more help (at little or no cost) is available from the government, non-profit groups, etc.
posted by WestCoaster at 12:50 PM on February 2, 2005


For one thing, they don't react well to bribery attempts, and family connections (of those they are dealing with) mean much less (that is, justice is much less dependent on who is being judged).

This is a very good point with regard to Koreans -- rule of law is still a somewhat nebulous thing here -- but probably better directed towards their parents, who would automatically lean on such tools if possible back home, were there a legal problem to be resolved.

For what it's worth, again with regard to Koreans, with whom I am more familiar -- a strong and clear emphasis on their rights to interpreters, and how to contact and use them, should they have any run-ins with the law, would be invaluable. This would also be true for other nationalities, of course.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:16 PM on February 2, 2005


Very useful stuff. Thanks.
posted by stray at 7:41 PM on February 2, 2005


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