Discover Ontario's history as told through its plaques
2004 - Now in our 13th Year - 2017
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Hugh Burnett and the National Unity Association
Photo by contributor Rick Mason - Posted May, 2011
Photo by contributor Wayne Adam - Posted September, 2011
The Municipality of Chatham-Kent
In Dresden, on the northeast corner of
St George Street and St. John Street
Coordinates: N 42 35.573 W 82 10.763
Between 1948 and 1956, the National Unity Association (NUA) of Chatham, Dresden and North Buxton, under the leadership of Hugh R. Burnett, waged a campaign for racial equality and social justice. Their efforts led to the passage of Ontario's Fair Employment Practices Act (1951) and Fair Accommodation Practices Act (1954), and laid the groundwork for subsequent human rights legislation in Ontario and across Canada. Traditional Anglo-Canadian rights, such as freedom of association and freedom of commerce, had historically been interpreted to permit discrimination on grounds of race, colour or creed in providing services to the public. The NUA inspired recognition of freedom from discrimination as a fundamental principle; this led to a revolutionary change to the course of Canadian law and Canadian history. Hugh Burnett and the NUA were early pioneers in the articulation of equality rights for all Canadians, now constitutionally inscribed in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
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