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Secondary Instructional Plan: Human Rights

Part Two

Background Information and Materials

Human Rights: Human rights can be defined as the basic rights and freedoms to which all humans are entitled; they are often held to include the right to life and liberty, freedom of thought and expression, and equality before the law, among many others. These rights are very important if not fundamental in implementing democratic societies around the world. Without them, it would be easy for an elected government or a dictatorship to abuse a minority with impunity.

In 1945, the United Nations was officially formed. It can best be defined as a global association of governments that facilitates co-operation in international law, security, economic development, and social equity. The name "United Nations" was coined by United States President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who first used it in the Declaration by United Nations of 1 January 1942, during the Second World War, when representatives of twenty-six nations pledged their governments to continue fighting together against the Axis Powers. On 10 December 1948, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It was seen as a timely event for the prevention of atrocities such as the world had witnessed during the Second World War.

In Canada, we have our own version of a declaration. It is officially called The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom and is more commonly referred to as simply The Charter. It was written and adopted in 1982 by the government of Pierre Elliot Trudeau and has been the source of some controversy, especially in Québec, because it was seen to infringe on provincial jurisdiction, but on the whole it is a well-written protection of Canadians’ human rights.

Even though Canada’s human rights record is better than most other countries, there is still room for improvement. In 1998, a large number of groups representing women, First Nations, poor people, homeless people, immigrants, and refugees appeared before a United Nations committee in Geneva to allege that widespread poverty, hunger, homelessness, and massive cuts to social programs violate commitments Canada has made to guarantee basic rights such as the right to adequate food, clothing, housing, health care, education, and other rights also contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


  • Computer access
  • Printout or poster of the UN Human Rights declaration
  • Printout or poster of the Canadian Charter
  • Human Rights readings located in Student Zone

Introductory Activities

Human Rights Defined - Initiating Questions Students often think and ask about what rights they have as students. Because there is no universally agreed upon statement of student rights, we will form a planning document as part of this activity.

1. Please discuss and then record student rights on the document Student Bill of Rights in Informatics .

  • Supplementary: Is there a reason why the language of proclamations or official announcements is so different from everyday conversation? Is there a reason why it uses terms and phrasing that are no longer common?
Student Bill of Rights
  1. A “right” of any sort does not work unless it can work for all of us, and it should anticipate that even exceptional situations can be handled by a complete statement of rights. Think and discuss how these rights can be applied to all students while they are students. Because every right has a responsibility, please discuss and record the “Student Responsibilities” which matches each of your “Student Rights”.
  2. How do we know our rights and responsibilities as citizens of Canada? Do we have a common understanding of human rights? Discuss and create a record of what we understand as Canada’s human rights. Use a in a chart like the sample below or construct your own. Later we will look at the law which describes these rights.
Brain Drain - Human Rights
Name of human right and brief description - human rights list as we see it.
  1. Categories of responses. Responses here will likely include voting, religion, and maybe freedom to associate. Record all different points of view that have appeared from this brain drain activity.
  2. Human Rights in Student Daily Life. As an individual or paired exercise, students can talk about the meaning of selected human rights listed – discuss and record as desirable.
    • How each human right can affects daily life.
    • How denial of a right or freedom would affect their life.
    • Are there indicators in Canada that a human right or freedom is not always followed?
    • If one should expect the same rights and freedoms in all circumstances.
    • Attempt to analyze why different “democracies” create different understanding of human rights and freedoms.
  3. Can you see any possible difference or conflict between the :Student Rights” and “The Charter of Rights and Freedoms”? Which has precedence? Are the Canadian rights and freedoms unconditional in all circumstances? Can one insist upon individual rights in all circumstances?
  4. Responsibilities: If each Human Right describes how we are to be treated as individuals – and as groups of individuals – logic dictates that there most be a corresponding responsibility for each of us. Create a chart that lists our personal responsibility for each of the human rights you have listed in the preceding activity.
    • Do we have common understanding of what we mean by “responsibility”?

Individual Responsibilities
Name and Brief Description - what responsibility do we have to be sure we do not reduce another person's human rights in Canada?

Human Right or Freedom is:

My personal responsibility is to:

Human Right or Freedom is:

My personal responsibility is to:

Human Right or Freedom is:

My personal responsibility is to:

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