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Colour, Race, Ethnic or National Origin

Colour, race, ethnic or national origin are related concepts. Race usually refers to physical characteristics of a group of people. The colour of a person’s skin can be one of those characteristics. Ethnic or national origin refers to a common ancestry that is often characterized by a shared language and culture. Two people may have the same colour of skin but have different ethnic backgrounds.

Consider these scenarios:

Scenario 1: Andrew is a computer programmer at a local company. Andrew is Aboriginal. His supervisor is always criticizing his work. He often tells Andrew that he is a “free-loader” and that “his kind” are lazy.

Scenario 2: Shireen is originally from Pakistan. At a local restaurant she notices that the server is rude to her and provides poor service, but is friendly and efficient with the other customers.

In scenario one Andrew may be experiencing discrimination based on colour, race, and/or ethnic or national origin in the area of employment.

In scenario two, Shireen could be experiencing discrimination on the basis of colour, race, or ethnic or national origin in the area of services.

Exceptions:

Employment and Volunteering

The provisions of the Act that prohibit discrimination in employment on the basis of colour, race, and ethnic or national origin do not always apply to ethnic non-profit organizations that are operated primarily to foster the welfare of a particular ethnic group. The organization must establish that being of a certain colour, race, and ethnic or national origin is a genuine occupational qualification. For example, a non-profit organization that provides employment counselling to Aboriginal persons may be permitted to recruit Aboriginal employees.

Displays or Publications

The provisions of the Act that prohibit discrimination in publications and displays do not apply to the publication or display of notices, signs, symbols, emblems or other representations that indicate membership in non-profit ethnic organizations, such as a sign for the PEI Lebanese Association. However, the provisions do apply to the publications or displays of organizations that promote hate.

Special Programs

The Commission may approve programs of government, private organizations or individuals designed to promote the welfare of ethnic groups, such as programs designed to ensure employment opportunities for visible minorities. Requests to approve programs must be made in writing to the Commission.

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