Overview of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Debate the Issue. Have the students prepare mini-debates on the following topics:
The government of Canada is sometimes justified in limiting the rights and freedoms of Canadians.
No limits should be placed on freedom of the press in a free society.
Freedom of assembly should mean that members of any hate group have the right to organize rallies in public places.
The Women’s Vote: Have the girls defend the government’s decisions to exclude women from voting and have the boys argue for inclusion. Look for information about the Suffragette Movement in Canada for the points that could be raised.
Journal Entry: Have students write about a personal experience where you or someone you know was discriminated against and describe the feelings involved in the incident.
Group Meetings: Discuss and describe incidences of discrimination you have seen such as a corner store not allowing too many students to come in at one time. Come up with a written list of ways to change people’s attitudes. Share these ideas with the class in a class meeting.
Visit the law courts and ask to have a deputy sheriff speak to the class. He or she will show you a card-size copy of the Charter Warning. Ask him/her why the Charter Warning must be read. Under the Charter, a person must be advised of his or her legal rights. If his or her rights are not read, the charges could be dropped.
Grade 7 Enrichment
While reading or researching an ancient culture from your Grade 7 Social Studies: A Link to the Past textbook, determine if the culture has democratic rights. If so, how do they compare with the rights set out in our Charter? If not, how did that affect the country’s government? Show your results in T-chart form as instructed by the teacher.
Using the short story or novel you are presently reading with the class, write a short report on what types of rights are discussed in the story or novel. Here are suggestions for Grade 7 novel reading: “Space Trap” and “Log Jam” by Monica Hughes; “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeline L’Engle; and “Holes” by Louis Sachar.
Having been convicted of a criminal offence, criminals have restrictions put on their fundamental freedoms and rights. Do you believe that this is fair? Why or Why not?
Research a case where someone’s fundamental freedoms have been limited by the Canadian government. Explain the case and the legal proceedings.
Plan a debate with each side taking one of the following positions: “The Canadian government should never restrict freedom of the press in a free society.” Present the debate to your class and/or grade. Have open forum after on what your audience thought of the debate issues.
Three enrichment case studies are provided in Handout 5, Handout 6 and Handout 7. Each one was a legal case related to a Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms violation. After reading each case, have students answer the accompanying questions. To see the answer key for Handout 5, Handout 6 and Handout 7, see the Assessment section.