The Complainant filed a complaint with the Yukon Human Rights Commission (“the Commission”). The complaint alleged that there was a lack of cultural programming and encouragement of First Nations cultural practices provided to the Complainant by the Whitehorse Correctional Centre – including with respect to smudging, smoking peace pipes and sweat ceremonies. The text of complaint stated that this was discrimination based on the prohibited grounds of “ancestry, including colour and race”. Subsequently, the Commission submitted an application to amend the text of the complaint and to add to the grounds of discrimination by including “religion or creed or religious belief, religious association, or religious activity”.
The Yukon Human Rights Board of Adjudication (“the Board”) concluded the application to amend the complaint should be allowed. In this case, there were clear references to cultural and spiritual practices in the original complaint. From the beginning, the Respondent was aware of the facts presented by the Complainant. Amending the complaint to include an additional ground of discrimination would not change the nature of the complaint; it would just make sure that the substance of the Complainant’s allegations was fully canvassed. The Board considered that it is widely accepted that First Nations ancestry and spirituality are intertwined. Therefore, it was concluded that amending the complaint to recognize First Nations practices as cultural and/or spiritual would not negatively affect the Respondent’s ability to deal with the substance of the complaint.