Category: Supreme Court

Why Canadians’ Civil Rights Aren’t Guaranteed By Our Charter of Rights

In early December 2021 Fatemeh Anvari, a Quebec Teacher, was removed from her Grade 3 classroom for wearing her hijab at work. (She wasn’t fired but assigned to other duties.) She was removed because Quebec’s Bill 21, reflecting the secular nature of Quebec society, prohibits wearing religious symbols (like the hijab, kipah or turban) at work in public sector work places by employees like judges, police officers or teachers. 

If legislation can prohibit wearing religious symbols at work, with no visible human impact, it makes that law seem less controversial.  But removing Fatemeh Anvari from her classroom put a human face to the law, the face of a visible minority woman.  Anvari’s removal sparked an outcry among parents and students at her school and by Canadian politicians who denounced the legislation as Islamophobic.

Bill 21 is very popular in Quebec, and very unpopular in the rest of Canada.  But there are two sides to most stories, including this one. 

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