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Charter - s.15 Discrimination - Prima Facie

. Dickson v. Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation

In Dickson v. Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation (SCC, 2024) the Supreme Court of Canada considered the relation of aboriginal rights and the Charter (here s.15 discrimination), focussing primarily on Charter s.25 ['Aboriginal rights and freedoms not affected by Charter'].

Here the court consider when to find a prima facie breach of the Charter s.15 discrimination protection:
(i) What Constitutes a Prima Facie Section 15(1) Breach?

[188] Under s. 15(1) of the Charter, “[e]very individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.” In a s. 15(1) Charter challenge, a claimant must demonstrate that the impugned law or state action: (a) on its face or in its impact, creates a distinction based on enumerated or analogous grounds; and (b) imposes a burden or denies a benefit in a manner that has the effect of reinforcing, perpetuating, or exacerbating disadvantage (R. v. Sharma, 2022 SCC 39, at para. 28, R. v. C.P., 2021 SCC 19, [2021] 1 S.C.R. 679, at paras. 56 and 141; Fraser v. Canada (Attorney General), 2020 SCC 28, [2020] 3 S.C.R. 113, at para. 27; Taypotat (SCC), at paras. 19‑20). When s. 25 is invoked, the Charter claimant must demonstrate a prima facie s. 15(1) breach before a court will consider whether s. 25 applies.


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Last modified: 09-04-24
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