25 years of human rights

2007 marks the 25th anniversary of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Signed into law as part of our constitution in 1982, the Charter is part of a larger bill, the Constitution Act, aimed at replacing and updating the outmoded British North America Act (BNA), which had served as Canada’s defacto constitution since Confederation in 1867. The Charter was intended to replace Canadian Bill of Rights, a Federal law passed in 1960 that sought to define some of Canadians’ rights locally, but which never carried the full weight of a constitutional document. Ultimately, the Charter, and the larger Constitution Act within which it is contained, sought to bring the BNA, which was always administered and held by Britain and barely reflected 19th century realities, back home to Canada and into the context of the 20th and 21st centuries.

I stumbled across an interesting website yesterday that lets users explore the Charter in ways never before possible. CharterOfRights.ca is an innovative design that lets the user explore in a variety of ways. “Inside the Charter” is a narrative that goes through much of the detail around the various aspects of the Charter and its effect on Canadians, in what appears to be a fairly traditional form. Other links from the main page allow us to explore the History of the Charter, or its Impact on you in more detail, plus Teachers help and detailed info on how to protect Your Rights.

Perhaps the most interesting section, though, is the Virtual Charter. Here, through a scanned image of the Charter, we can explore the various aspects of the actual document in its original form. Its rare for the average person to get a close look at such an important historic document, and while this isn’t the ACTUAL document, the Internet affords opportunities to access documents not even dreamt of 25 years ago. Through the Virtual Charter, we have a chance to explore the Charter of Rights and Freedoms as it was originally written and presented, and its an opportunity that simply wouldn’t be possible without modern technology. I recommend all Canadians go have a gander at this web-site, as well as any others who might be interested in learning more about Canada’s commitment to the rights of Her citizens, and help us celebrate 25 years of our own constitution, administered on our own land, by our own people.

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