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Colour-Coded

by Constance Backhouse

Historically Canadians have considered themselves to be more or less free of racial prejudice. Although this conception has been challenged in recent years, it has not been completely dispelled. In Colour-Coded, Constance Backhouse illustrates the tenacious hold that white supremacy had on our legal system in the first half of this century, and underscores the damaging legacy of inequality that continues today.Backhouse presents detailed narratives of six court cases, each giving evidence of blatant racism created and enforced through law. The cases focus on Aboriginal, Inuit, Chinese-Canadian, and African-Canadian individuals, taking us from the criminal prosecution of traditional Aboriginal dance to the trial of members of the 'Ku Klux Klan of Kanada.' From thousands of possibilities, Backhouse has selected studies that constitute central moments in the legal history of race in Canada. Her selection also considers a wide range of legal forums, including administrative rulings by municipal councils, criminal trials before police magistrates, and criminal and civil cases heard by the highest courts in the provinces and by the Supreme Court of Canada.The extensive and detailed documentation presented here leaves no doubt that the Canadian legal system played a dominant role in creating and preserving racial discrimination. A central message of this book is that racism is deeply embedded in Canadian history despite Canada's reputation as a raceless society.Winner of the Joseph Brant Award, presented by the Ontario Historical Society

De la couleur des lois : une histoire juridique du racisme au Canada entre 1900 et 1950

by Constance Backhouse

Malgré l'ouverture proclamée des Canadiens face à la diversité ethnique et culturelle, l'histoire canadienne n'en est pas moins marquée par la discrimination systématique. Cet ouvrage expose la ténacité juridique de cette discrimination par l'entremise d'un examen de six arrêts judiciaires déterminants entre 1900 et 1950 qui démontrent comment le système juridique canadien fut complice de la discrimination raciale. Les cas retenus font exemples des diverses façons dont le racisme a opéré dans les différents environnements juridiques du Canada. On y retrouve ceux d'Eliza Sero, qui a présenté en 1921 une revendication à la souveraineté Mohawk, de Wanduta, un Heyoka de la nation Dakota, qui visait à faire reconnaître son droit de célébrer la traditionnelle danse des herbes sacrées en 1903, d'Ira Johnson, qui a eu à subir le courroux du Ku Klux Klan en raison de son désir de contracter un mariage mixte en 1930, de Yee Clun, un restaurateur canadien d'origine chinoise à qui l'on avait refusé le droit d'employer des femmes blanches en 1924 et de Viola Desmond, qui avait été empêchée par le personnel d'un cinéma de s'asseoir dans une section réservée aux Blancs en 1946. De la couleur des lois illustre l'ambiguïté opérationnelle ainsi que l'étonnante et sournoise persévérance du racisme à l'oeuvre dans le système juridique canadien. De la couleur des lois est la traduction française de Colour-Coded: A Legal History of Racism in Canada (University of Toronto Press, 1999), qui a été gagnant du prix Joseph Brant en 2002.

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