Vriend Versus Alberta Part 1: Before Vriend

Explore the tumultuous decades leading up to a historic Supreme Court decision.

Vriend Versus Alberta is special podcast series detailing the ground-breaking Supreme Court ruling that helped pave the way for equality for Canada’s 2SLGBTQI+ community.

On January 28, 1991, Delwin Vriend was fired from his job as a laboratory coordinator at The King’s College in Edmonton, Alta. because he was gay.

Delwin’s only recourse was to file a complaint with the Alberta Human Rights Commission. However, in 1991 sexual orientation was not included as a protected ground against discrimination in Alberta’s human rights legislation.

It was perfectly legal for members of the 2SLGBTQI+ community to be refused service at restaurants, denied accommodations, evicted from their homes, and fired from their jobs.

When the Alberta Human Rights Commission denied Delwin’s complaint, the stage was set for a monumental legal battle that would forever change Canadian history.

But to fully understand how this historic Supreme Court decision changed the way we understand the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, we will need to look back at the political and social reality of being a 2SLGBTQI+ Canadian in the tumultuous decades leading up to the court challenge.

Welcome to episode 1 of Vriend Versus Alberta.

*NOTE: The terms “Queer and Trans” and “sexual and gender minorities” are used in this series to refer to the 2SLGBTQI+ community as a whole. We acknowledge the great diversity within this community, and you can find more information about this here.

Vriend Versus Alberta is produced by Edmonton Community Foundation and the Edmonton Queer History Project.


Read the Supreme Court’s ruling on Vriend v. Alberta.

Learn more about Vriend v. Alberta from the Alberta Labour History Institute.

Learn more about Vriend v. Alberta  on the University of Alberta’s Bridging Connections podcast.