Human Right Monument, Ottawa

Canada’s approaches to human rights have developed from a long history of precedent-setting legislation and acts, but with these successes have come disappointments. The sum of these experiences have shaped and informed Canadians’ attitudes toward unity, diversity and justice — at home and internationally.

It is not difficult for each of us to think of examples of human rights issues, yet talking about them, even at the most basic level, is intimidating. People’s varied interpretations about these topics can lead to heated, emotional discussions. As Canadians, we take for granted that such debates can be carried on freely and without fear of repercussions because the rights and freedoms we enjoy are enshrined and safeguarded in our Constitution. However, how many of us are aware of how these rights appeared in this document? The way civil liberties came to be protected in Canada and how Canadians approach these topics are important questions.