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Guide to research sources for Canadian and BC law.

Constitution Acts (1867 and 1982)

cover art Oxford Handbook of the Canadian Constitution

The Canadian Constitution is actually made up of many documents, and some unwritten traditions. However, there are two main written sources:

Constitution Act, 1867

  • Created the country of Canada with the joining of 4 existing provinces in 1867 under a federal system of government. Other provinces and territories (including BC) were added to this Confederation later. 
  • Was originally called the British North America Act, or BNA Act.
  • Lays out the legislative powers of the federal and provincial governments. See box below on the "Division of Powers".

Constitution Act, 1982

  • Supplements the Constitution Act, 1867.
  • "Repatriated" Canada's constitution, meaning that it established Canada's right to amend its own constitution, without involving the government of Great Britain.
  • Introduced the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. See box below for more on the Charter.

Division of Powers

In Canada, the power to make laws on specific matters is divided between the federal government and the provincial governments.

This distribution of legislative powers is set out in two sections of the Constitution Act, 1867

Note: Section 93 also grants provinces exclusive powers over education.

Power over matters not listed in these sections is held by the federal government.

Video source: The Reflective Prof [Wayland Chau], 2020.

Charter of Rights & Freedoms

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of the Constitution Act, 1982

It "protects basic rights and freedoms that are essential to keeping Canada a free and democratic society. It ensures that the government, or anyone acting on its behalf, doesn’t take away or interfere with these rights or freedoms unreasonably." 

Canada. Department of Justice. (2019). Learn about the Charter.

Books and government reports can be great places to get a solid understanding of your topic. Many are available online. 

Here are a few suggested books to help you get started. You can find many more using the library catalogue search box below.

Library Catalogue Search

Use the KPU Library Catalogue to search for more books and e-books related to the Charter. It has better search options for finding these types of resources than the Summon Search tool.


Suggested search terms: 

  • Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • Constitutional Law -- Canada 
  • Civil rights -- Canada

Or try subject terms related to specific provisions of the Charter, like:

  • Freedom of religion -- Canada
  • Women -- Legal status, laws, etc. -- Canada


Journals focused on the Canadian Constitution and Charter

Other journal article search tools:

You will find many more articles using the main journal databases and indexes listed under the Journal Articles tab on this page. Don't forget to check there too!

Citing the whole Charter

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11.


Citing a section of the Charter

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, s 15(1), Part I of the Constitution Act, 1982, being Schedule B to the Canada Act 1982 (UK), 1982, c 11.

"Note that pinpoint references to the Canadian Charter and the Constitution Act, 1982 are immediately after the title.  For any other constitutional statutes, place pinpoint references after the chapter number." (Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation, 9th ed., p. E-27)

Citing Charterpedia:

In your References list:

Canada, Department of Justice. (2021, January 25). Charterpedia. Retrieved May 3, 2021, from

Note: Charterpedia is continuously updated so individual pages have different publication dates. Your reference should reflect how recent the content is on the page you are citing. Check the "Date Modified" at the bottom of the page. Also add the date that you viewed ("retrieved") that page.

In-text citation for quotation from one part of Charterpedia:

​(Canada, 2021, Section 15 Equality Rights, "Purpose")

Note: because the paragraphs within each section are not numbered, I have given the header title for the part from which I have quoted.