Growth: Canadian Defenders for Human Rights

Canadian Defenders for Human Rights has continued to grow, adding the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK) to our partnership with the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR), the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. The national initiative and curriculum tool for a contemporary understanding of Canada’s human rights history, which will eventually provide extensive resources and information for teachers, is currently in its fundraising phase.

“There are not enough resources to use to teach students about human rights, especially at the primary level, which is where we need to start before bias sets in,” said a teacher respondent to a survey conducted by the CTF and the CMHR earlier this year.

The current edition of the Robert F. Kennedy Center’s Speak Truth to Power, one of the definitive texts on the topic of human rights and defenders of human rights, has very limited coverage of Canada’s role, necessitating thorough resources specifically about Canada and human rights. We look forward to facilitating further research into our role in human rights movements as a nation and being able to provide these resources—including texts and lesson plans—for all grade levels in the near future.


In development: My Voice – Our Rights to celebrate solidarity in support of social justice via the youth voice

We are very excited about the development of My Voice – Our Rights, a songwriting challenge as part of our pilot partnership with the Star Expo Foundation. My Voice – Our Rights will encourage students to write songs on the topic of human rights together, exploring and increasing their confidence in both their musical ability and their understanding of human rights. The project will also encourage musicians becoming role models for students in the importance of education and music. Look out for more details about this exciting venture over the summer and into the beginning of the 2013/2014 school year.

Successful pilot: Project of Heart twin classrooms to continue collaboration

This year, through Imagineaction, the Project of Heart twinned twelve classrooms across the country, connecting students from schools and programs like Lady Evelyn Alternative School and First Nations Child and Family Caring Society. Students had the opportunity to collaborate and learn mutually about each other’s culture, building trust that will be invaluable in moving forward. The program works in coordination with the regional Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada Education Day events, and we’re excited to continue our support of the program with more classrooms this coming year.

“It’ll be very exciting and I am happy that they are planning on working in to next year,” Charlene Bearhead, the national coordinator at the Project of Heart says of two Quebec grade 10 classrooms, Matthew Luthi’s at public Westwood High School in St. Lazare and Wayne Rice’s at the Kahnawake Survival School in Kahnawake. Students will join teachers at the CTF’s President’s Forum to share their reflections.

We’ll have more information about this year’s involved classrooms at soon!

“Listen, I Read” literacy program expands

A third year’s worth of classrooms engaged with books with our “Listen, I Read” program, which encourages in depth literacy in all grade levels. Students read together with a class set of books from Imagineaction, and they explored the themes of the books like Indian Horse and Virginia Wolf in many ways. Many students got creative through artwork and presentations, while some had the opportunity to meet with the authors themselves!

“We were so excited to receive a class set of the book 'Virginia Wolf'. The teacher held a special ceremony where she opened the big cardboard box and took out one book after the other and handed them out to the students. The students were super-pleased to receive a copy in their own hands,” says a teacher at Corliss Public School in Mississauga, Ontario, where author Kyo Maclear went to meet with the young readers.

Grade 1 students at Commission Scolaire de la Jonquière read La clé à Molette together. Students engaged with the book through plasticine art.

Get involved, get subsidized

We continue to offer school-community project subsidies to support teachers and their classrooms as they engage with Imagineaction pilots and special initiatives. Imagineaction can help our social action programs reach your classroom through material, funding and connection support. We’ll help you be one of the many teachers making a difference for their students and community. This year, teachers engaged their students in many community programs on topics like elder respect, self-esteem building, healthy eating and LGBTQ awareness. Students have participated in varied types of projects like a greenhouse, a shared column in a local newspaper and an independently organized TED talk event.

“WOW! What an amazing turn of events which have come to fruition, from the simple idea of teaching our students about Real Food. Students throughout the year were treated to Discovery Boxes in their classrooms, where a local food or product was sampled in as many forms as possible,” says a Geary Elementary Community School teacher in Geary, New Brunswick, whose students took part in a year-long culinary workshop exploring the value of healthy eating.

“We are excited to see the "fruits" of our labour and to be ready to charge full steam ahead this coming fall for the 2013/2014 school year,” a teacher at Holy Cross Secondary School in Peterborough, Ontario. Students have been able to turn a disused corridor into a greenhouse.

“Le projet va bon train et les échos en sont plus que positifs. Le projet fut soumis au concours Actifs et fiers dans le cadre de la Semaine nationale de francophonie 2013. Nous avons remporté un des prix régionaux,” says a teacher at École secondaire catholique Sainte-Marie, whose grade 12 students profiled francophones in their column “Franco-Fierté” in Le Reflet newspaper.

“Notre soirée du Défilé pour l'espoir fut un grand succès. Nous avons accueilli plus de 270 spectateurs!” says a teacher at École secondaire catholique Renaissance in Aurora, Ontario about an event for breast cancer organized by students.

Aboriginal education rights at annual forum

If you can’t make it to the 2013 CTF President’s Forum, “First Nations, Métis and Inuit Education” this summer, be sure to stay engaged by tuning into our live streaming of select presentations, as well as our Twitter updates at #CTFForum. Attendees will spend two days discussing the challenges currently faced by Aboriginal teachers and students. There will also be a presentation by participants in the first year of Imagineaction's aboriginal twinning.