The following information is based on the Amnesty International Report 2021/22. This report documented the human rights situation in 149 countries in 2021, as well as providing global and regional analysis. It presents Amnesty International’s concerns and calls for action to governments and others.


There were concerns about government responses to the Covid-19 pandemic and inaction on the rights of Indigenous peoples, Black and racialized communities, women, refugees and migrants.

Indigenous peoples’ rights

In April, the CERD Committee called on Canada to investigate allegations of racist violence against Mi’kmaw people.

In June, parliament passed a law implementing the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

Indigenous children

Between May and the end of the year, the remains of more than 1,381 Indigenous children buried at six former residential schools were located. The Canadian government established the schools, and churches administered them.1

The authorities failed to fully implement and share a public timeline for the 94 calls to action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada or to implement the 142 calls for action from the Public Inquiry Commission on relations between Indigenous peoples and public services in Quebec.

In September, the Federal Court upheld the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal ruling ordering Ottawa to pay Can$40,000 (approximately US$32,000) to each of the approximately 50,000 First Nations children forcibly separated from their families. At the end of the year, the parties reached an agreement-in-principle whereby Can$20 billion (approximately US$15.7 billion) will be paid in compensation to First Nations children who were removed from their homes and approximately Can$20 billion over five years will be spent on long-term reform of the First Nations Child and Family Services program.

Joyce’s Principle

In February, the minister of Indigenous services announced Can$2 million (approximately US$1.6 million) in funding to the Conseil de la Nation Atikamekw (Council of Atikamekw Nation) and the Conseil des Atikamekw de Manawan (Atikamekw Council of Manawan) to advance their advocacy for the implementation of Joyce’s Principle, which aims to guarantee all Indigenous people the right to equitable access to all social and health services without discrimination. The Principle was named after Joyce Echaquan, an Atikamekw woman who was subjected to racist taunts by hospital staff before dying in a Quebec hospital in September 2020.

In September, the Quebec provincial government again denied the existence of systemic racism in the province and continued to refuse to adhere to Joyce’s Principle. The coroner’s report investigating Joyce Echaquan’s death stated that the province of Quebec’s government must acknowledge the existence of systemic racism and commit to eliminating it.

Right to water, health and housing

Canada did not meet its commitment to ensure access to safe, clean water in First Nations communities by 31 March 2021. In October, petroleum was discovered in Iqaluit’s water supply, forcing residents to rely on alternative sources.

Despite the prevalence of Covid-19, Indigenous peoples continued to lack healthcare facilities and services, and lived in underfunded and overcrowded housing.


Racialized communities continued to experience systemic racism, including in interactions with police forces. In December 2020, Black federal employees launched a landmark class-action lawsuit against the federal government, alleging decades of systemic and institutional racism in public services. The case remained pending before the Federal Court of Canada at the end of the year.

In May, Indigenous leaders called for an investigation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police on Vancouver Island after the shooting of two Tla-o-qui-aht people in the first half of 2021 which left one dead and one seriously injured. In July, the First Nations Leadership Council renewed the same call following the shooting of a Wet’suwet’en man in British Columbia.

In August, the Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse du Quebec (Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission of Quebec) published a report indicating that racial profiling complaints had increased by 87%, from 46 in 2018-2019 to 86 in 2020-2021.

Refugees’ and migrants’ rights

Between 21 March 2020 and 21 June 2021, 444 people seeking asylum were pushed back to the USA under measures to curb the Covid-19 pandemic. These measures were rescinded on 20 November 2021.

In April, the Federal Court of Appeal overturned a decision that found the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement unconstitutional. In December, the Supreme Court of Canada granted leave to appeal against that decision.

Immigration detention practices continued to violate international human rights law, including the rights of children and people with disabilities.2

Womens’ rights

The 2021-2022 federal budget included a commitment of over Can$27 billion (approximately US$21 billion) over five years to create a national affordable childcare system.

In March, the Canadian Alliance for Sex Work Law Reform launched a lawsuit to strike down Canada’s laws criminalizing sex work on the grounds that these laws violate sex workers’ rights. The case was pending at the end of the year.

In June, Canada launched a National Action Plan to implement the 231 Calls for Justice from the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, but failed to outline accountability measures and an implementation timeline.

In June, the Senate Standing Committee on Human Rights released a report on forced and coerced sterilization, a practice that disproportionately impacts Indigenous women, girls and two-spirit people.

LGBTI people’s rights

A bill to criminalize “conversion therapy”, a process that seeks to change a person’s sexual orientation or suppress a person’s gender identity or expression, became law on 8 December.

Corporate accountability

In January, Amazon factory staff reportedly continued to work despite health and safety concerns related to the pandemic. The company opposed workers’ attempts to unionize.

Canadian resource extraction companies continued to operate extraterritorially with little human rights or environmental oversight from the Canadian or host-state governments.

Developers of the Trans Mountain pipeline did not obtain the free, prior, informed consent of all Secwepemc communities affected. In April, several men attacked Secwepemc women land defenders at a camp in Blue River, British Columbia, who were protesting against the construction of the company’s industrial camps.

Between September and December, armed Royal Canadian Mounted Police officers arrested 36 peaceful land defenders opposed to the construction of the Coastal Gaslink pipeline in Wet’suwet’en traditional territory in British Columbia, including three journalists covering the protests.

Failure to tackle climate crisis

Canada continued to subsidize the fossil fuel industry, specifically exploration and development projects, and exploitation and transport of oil and gas.

In June, the federal government enacted Canada’s first climate accountability legislation, the Canadian Carbon Neutrality Accountability Act.

Irresponsible arms transfers

Canada continued to transfer arms to Colombia despite militarized repression of demonstrations that resulted in human rights violations. Canada continued to export arms to Saudi Arabia, despite risk assessments of the transfers that did not conform to the Arms Trade Treaty.3

Canada Newsroom

February 11, 2022 • Press Release

Statement on “Freedom Convoy” Blockade

Amnesty International has been following with great concern the developments relating to the “Freedom Convoy” blockade in Ottawa.

June 6, 2021 • Report

Governments Must Stop Conniving with Fossil Fuel Industries to Burn Our Rights

The world’s richest governments are effectively condemning millions of people to starvation, drought and displacement through their continued support of the fossil fuel industry, Amnesty International said today. The organization’s new policy briefing offers a damning assessment of global failures to protect human rights from climate change, and outlines how human rights law can help hold governments and companies to account.

September 8, 2020 • Report

No safe haven: New report highlights Canada’s failure to prosecute individuals accused of war crimes and crimes against humanity

The recent murder of a Liberian national who had settled in Ontario has made one thing clear: Canada is failing to bring those suspected of crimes against humanity and war …

November 1, 2016 • Report

Out of Sight Out of Mind

Decades of resource development and government policy failures have strained the social fabric of communities in northeast British Columbia (BC), Canada, and have put the lives and safety of Indigenous women and girls at great risk, Amnesty International said in a new report.

February 18, 2016 • Report

Amnesty International State of the World 2015-2016

International protection of human rights is in danger of unravelling as short-term national self-interest and draconian security crackdowns have led to a wholesale assault on basic freedoms and rights, warned Amnesty International as it launched its annual assessment of human rights around the world. “Your rights are in jeopardy: they are being treated with utter contempt by many governments around the world,” said Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International.

February 25, 2015 • Report

State of the World 2014/2015

This has been a devastating year for those seeking to stand up for human rights and for those caught up in the suffering of war zones. Governments pay lip service to the importance of protecting civilians. And yet the world's politicians have miserably failed to protect those in greatest need. Amnesty International believes that this can and must finally change.

May 17, 2013 • Report

Annual Report: Canada 2013

Canada Head of state Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Head of government Stephen Harper There were continuing systematic violations of the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Immigration and refugee law reforms …

October 12, 2011 • Report

Canada urged to arrest and prosecute George W. Bush

Amnesty International today urged Canadian authorities to arrest and either prosecute or extradite former US President George W. Bush for his role in torture, ahead of his expected visit to …

October 3, 2011 • Report

Campaign to silence Syrian protesters overseas revealed

Syrian protesters in Europe and the Americas have been systematically monitored and harassed by embassy officials and others believed to be acting on behalf of the Syrian regime, Amnesty International …

June 30, 2011 • Report

Annual Report: Canada 2011

Head of state: Queen Elizabeth II, represented by Governor General David Johnston (replaced Michaëlle Jean in October) Head of government: Stephen Harper Death penalty: abolitionist for all crimes Population: 33.9 …