Lesson 5: Legal and Equality Rights


Activity 1: Application of the Charter

Students will begin this activity by examining the application of the Charter.  Review the information in the content section on how the Charter is applied and discuss the following case with your students to illustrate the point.  

The case is fictional but based on the precedent set by the Abbottsford school district: “The Abbotsford Board of Education plans to resume searches by drug detection dogs this fall, and that has the BC Civil Liberties Association scrutinizing a Supreme Court of Canada ruling. That decision determined that police cannot use random dog searches to find drugs at schools or in public places, except airports. Searches were last in place at Abbotsford middle and high schools in the 2005-06 school year, on a random basis, but were halted after the private company contracted for the work had some of its dogs stolen, said Kevin Godden, acting secretary-treasurer for the school district.”

Read the following facts to the class and answer the questions posed.

Application of Charter Framework — You Be the Judge!

Has a Charter violation occurred?  If so, decide what action is required.

“Schoolhouse Rocks”

A local school district has a serious drug trafficking and drug use problem in its high schools, particularly with rock cocaine and "crystal meth." The recently-elected members of the school board want serious action taken to reduce the problem and catch the offenders, however the budget is tight and there is little money for increased security, surveillance cameras or extra administrators. They have decided to use drug-sniffing dogs in the gym areas, school lockers, parking lot and hallways of the high schools.

Police officers will bring drug dogs into the schools on a random basis so that drug dealers and users will not know when the checks will happen. All drugs seized will be turned over to the administration and criminal charges will be laid against offenders.

Activity 2: Case Studies and Charter Rights

Students will examine the specific legal issue of search and seizure as it applies to high school locker searches, bag searches and seizure of student property. Provide students with Handout 1: Case Studies and Charter Rights. To save time have them read it for homework.

Each of these cases has given direction to drug searches in high schools whether by police or school administrators and represent the most recent rulings from our highest court. Provide students with Handout 2: Legal and Illegal Searches in School and take some time to review the steps required to complete all tasks. Allow students sufficient time to analyze the cases and complete the first two steps. At this point you will want to review and debrief the students’ interpretations of the cases, the law and their application to school life.

Step three asks students to prepare a policy statement for the high school agenda book outlining the privacy expectations of students and the school’s lawful right to search and seize student property.

Step four is offered as a bonus or extension assignment but you may want to bring in a school official or administrator to talk with the students about the existing policy.

Activity 3: Legal Rights under the Charter

Give students Handout 3: Legal Rights under the Charter and discuss it with them.  Have them complete the questions. 

To see the answer key for Handout 3, see the Assessment section.

You may want to select one or two of the animated videos in Section 2: Criminal Law Lesson 3 to show your class. Then ask them to record some of the topics that are being addressed by the video. Provide a link to the lesson.

Activity 4: What is a Canadian?

Hold a two minute brainstorm on What is Canadian? Have the students list everything they can think of that pertains to being Canadian. Examples: Maple syrup, hockey, Wayne Gretzky, Sidney Crosby, CBC, Canadian back bacon, Don Cherry, John A. MacDonald, Bryan Adams, Nickelback, the CN Tower. Compile a giant list of “What is Canadian?” Then discuss the quote: “Canada is the only country in the world that knows how to live without an identity.” — Marshall McLuhan

Activity 5: What is Multiculturalism and What are Equality Rights?

Brainstorm on the definition of “culture” and ask students what they think the term multiculturalism means to them? Write up some of their different suggestions on the board. Give the students Handout 4: Multiculturalism Quotes and Equality Rights. Read and ensure that your student understand what they mean. Discuss the difference between the American “Melting Pot” and the Canadian “Mosaic” (like a stained glass window). The idea is to get students to consider the uniqueness of multiculturalism, its benefits and downfalls. The following are simply some suggestions that may come up in the discussion.


  • Multiculturalism strengthens a society, making it more tolerant of different cultures and open to new ideas.
  • Many people see Canada’s Multicultural policy as the key feature that allows Canadians of all cultures to live together in peace.
  • Less racism.
  • Promotes understanding of cultures, which means we are less likely to go to war over different religious or cultural beliefs.
  • Many different types of foods, cultures and religions present in society.
  • Less likely to lose our identity in one homogenous culture.
  • Less likely to be ethnocentric and more likely to embrace a more pluralistic view of society.
  • In order to govern, we must strive to understand all the cultural elements that exist in our society.


  • In accepting so many different cultures, there is no one Canadian culture.
  • We have created a clash of cultures — English vs. French vs. First Nations.
  • Allowing different cultures but forcing them to speak English or French means that we are not truly tolerant of all cultures.

Activity 6: Coffee Talk

Hand out Handout 5: Coffee Talk. Walk the students through the instructions.

Students will change partners three times and have different discussions with their peers. Spend approximately three to five minutes per section. When finished, call upon some students to read their answers to the last questions — what they agreed to regarding multiculturalism.

Activity 7: Multicultural Day Optional

Introduce and hand out Handout 6: Multicultural Day and Handout 7: Multicultural Day Rubric. Review the expectations, clarify and review the rubric. Ask students to describe what they think a perfect speech would look like. Then you could model some things not to do (i.e., read with speech in front of your face so the class can’t see you, shifting back and forth, speaking really quietly, pacing back and forth or talking with your back to the class). Also, give your students Handout 8: Oh Canada, Eh? Explain that this is where they will keep track of what they learned and who has presented. This will be collected at the conclusion of all multicultural presentations.

The Multicultural Day will most likely take two classes to complete. Be clear about your expectations and the due date. Tell the students that they must all be ready to go on the first day. Ensure all those students who brought food or large props do their presentation first. The keeners will be ready for the first day and the others will have the opportunity to go on the second day. It is always a good idea to assign this towards the end of the week so that the students have a weekend to get organized