Section 25-31 : General Provisions

Section 25

The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed so as to abrogate or derogate from any Aboriginal, treaty or other rights or freedoms that pertain to the Aboriginal peoples of Canada including

  1. any rights or freedoms that have been recognized by the Royal Proclamation of October 7, 1763; and
  2. any rights or freedoms that now exist by way of land claims agreements or may be so acquired.

The Constitution recognizes the rights of Aboriginal peoples of Canada (which include Indian, Inuit and Métis groups) in order to protect the culture, customs, traditions and languages of Aboriginal peoples.

Section 25 makes it clear that other rights contained in the Charter must not interfere with the rights of Aboriginal peoples. For example, where Aboriginal peoples are entitled to special benefits under treaties, other persons who do not enjoy those benefits cannot argue that they have been denied the right to be treated equally under section 15 of the Charter.

In addition to section 25 of the Charter, section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982 states that the existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada are recognized and affirmed. The Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that section 35 means that Aboriginal rights under treaties or other laws are now protected under the Constitution Act, 1982.

Section 26

The guarantee in this Charter of certain rights and freedoms shall not be construed as denying the existence of any other rights or freedoms that exist in Canada.

Canadians have rights under laws other than the Charter. For example, rights may also be created under federal, provincial and international law.

The purpose of section 26 is to make clear that Parliament and the legislatures are free to create rights beyond those that are in the Charter. By entrenching basic or minimum rights, the Charter does not restrict the creation or enjoyment of other rights.

Section 27

This Charter shall be interpreted in a manner consistent with the preservation and enhancement of the multicultural heritage of Canadians.

Canadians are proud of the fact that Canada is home to many cultural groups. This feature of our country is officially recognized in section 27.

Section 28

Notwithstanding anything in this Charter, the rights and freedoms referred to in it are guaranteed equally to male and female persons.

Section 28 makes it clear that both women and men are equally protected under the Charter. This principle is also found in section 15.

Section 29

Nothing in this Charter abrogates or derogates from any rights or privileges guaranteed by or under the Constitution of Canada in respect of denominational, separate or dissentient schools.

The Charter does not affect the creation and running of religious schools that are protected elsewhere under the Constitution.

More specifically, the freedoms of conscience and religion in section 2 of the Charter and the equality rights in section 15 do not limit the right of Canadians under the Constitution Act, 1867 to establish religious or denominational schools.

Section 30

A reference in this Charter to a province or to the legislative assembly or legislature of a province shall be deemed to include a reference to the Yukon Territory and the Northwest Territories, or to the appropriate legislative authority thereof, as the case may be.

The Charter applies to the Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut in exactly the same way as it does to the provinces. At the time the Charter was enacted, the Northwest Territories included the territory now called Nunavut.

Section 31

Nothing in this Charter extends the legislative powers of any body or authority.

The Charter in no way affects the sharing of responsibilities or the distribution of powers between the provinces and the federal government. The powers of each level of government are set out in the Constitution Act, 1867.

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