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Rights and Responsibilities
Citizenship and Immigration Canada


What are my rights as a Canadian?

All Canadians enjoy certain rights based on Canada's tradition of democracy and respect for human dignity and freedom. These rights are found in Canada's Human Rights Codes and in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

All Canadians enjoy the following rights:

  • equality rights: equal treatment before and under the law, and equal protection and benefit of the law without discrimination

  • democratic rights: such as the right to participate in political activities, to vote and to be elected to political office

  • legal rights: such as the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty, the right to retain a lawyer and to be informed of that right, and the right to an interpreter in a court proceeding

  • mobility rights: such as the right to enter and leave Canada, and to move to and take up residence in any province

  • language rights: generally, the right to use either the English or French languages in communications with Canada's federal government and certain of Canada's provincial governments.

  • minority language education rights: in general, French and English minorities in every province and territory have the right to be educated in their own language

All Canadians also enjoy fundamental freedoms of religion, thought, expression, peaceful assembly, and association.

What are my responsibilities as a Canadian?

Canadians also share common responsibilities. Canadians should:

  • understand and obey Canadian laws
  • participate in Canada's democratic political system
  • vote in elections
  • allow other Canadians to enjoy their rights and freedoms
  • appreciate and help to preserve Canada's multicultural heritage

All Canadians are encouraged to become informed about political activities, and to help better their communities and the country.

What is a "multicultural heritage"?

Canadians are proud of their multicultural heritage. In Canada, many different cultural and ethnic groups live and work together in harmony and tolerance. Canada's diversity is encouraged by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act. These laws say that all Canadians are free to promote and share our multicultural heritage.

Another major component of Canada's multicultural heritage is the existence of aboriginal people in Canada. Aboriginal people lived in Canada thousands of years before the first immigrants arrived. Aboriginal people of Canada enjoy certain additional rights to protect their cultures and languages and to become self-governing.

How do you enforce your rights?

If your rights have been violated by the federal or provincial governments, you can challenge that action in court.

If your rights have been violated by a private individual, you can seek justice from federal or provincial Human Rights Commissions or Ombudspersons, whose jobs it is to hear, investigate, and resolve human rights violations.

If you require legal assistance to enforce your rights, but cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, you may be eligible for free or low-cost Legal Aid in your local community.

Is it necessary to learn English or French?

The English and French languages are the two official languages of Canada. Canada's two official languages are an important part of Canadian identity. You must learn one of these two languages to become a Canadian citizen.


Please Note
This fact sheet contains information that was current at the time of publication. It is, however, a digest from many sources, and should not be confused with official statements of policy or programming. The Government of Canada is not responsible for information that changes between printings.

June 1997


©2002-2007 All Rights Reserved.
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