The Canadian Association of Statutory Human Rights Agencies (CASHRA) was established in 1972 as an umbrella organization for the federal, provincial and territorial human rights commissions.
Commissions are "arm’s-length" statutory agencies charged with administering human rights legislation through public education, research, policy development, communications, and formal complaint processes. Some Commissions have additional powers to conduct inquiries and investigations into systemic discrimination.
Since its inception, CASHRA continues to provide opportunities for members to exchange information about human rights laws in Canada. CASHRA also undertakes public education projects that promote and advocate for human rights in Canada and abroad.
Offering an annual conference is one of CASHRA's important initiatives. Each year a different member agency hosts the annual CASHRA conference. Human rights professionals and delegates from each commission gather to participate in panel discussions, workshops and plenary sessions that focus on protection from discrimination and the promotion of equal opportunity in public areas including education, employment, housing, and services.
Although human rights legislation is similar in all Canadian jurisdictions there are some differences in the protections covered. There are also differences in the structure and mandate of each organization.