The Charter for Children introduces children to the basic principles of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Each story is set in a different province or territory of the country and each addresses a different right or freedom in the Charter. The series seeks to empower children by providing them with a basic awareness of their rights and by fostering a respect for the fundamental values that Canadians cherish.
About the author: Dustin Milligan is a native of Tyne Valley, Prince Edward Island. He received a Bachelor of Social Sciences (B.Soc.Sc.) degree from the University of Ottawa and a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Civil Law (LL.B./B.C.L.) from McGill University.He has worked in the field of constitutional advocacy and litigation in Canada, South Africa, and Burma. He was called to the bar of Prince Edward Island in 2011.
The idea for The Charter for Children first emerged when Dustin was a student at the Faculty of Law at McGill University. After his first year of studies, he was concerned about the ability for the common citizen to access the complicated legal system of our country — one that he himself had only begun to understand. Furthermore, he believed that children are some of our most vulnerable citizens, having limited voice, strength and knowledge of their rights. These concerns, combined with Dustin’s love for literature and the law, led to the creation of The Charter for Children.
About each title:
An Unusual Thrill on Parliament Hill — The Responsibility to Respect the Rights of Others
A raccoon named Olivia travels all the way to Ottawa, along with a group of young Canadians, to tour Parliament Hill. Things get out of control along the way. With a pounding headache, Olivia tries to get away. She stumbles upon a secret room where she finds Sir John Owl MacDonald, John Beefendbaker and Hare Trudeau eating poutine. She ends up learning the most important lesson of all.
This story seeks to teach children there are limits to their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Section 1 of the Charter, often referred to as the “reasonable limits clause” or “limitations clause,” not only guarantees the rights and freedoms in the Charter, it also allows the government to limit individuals’ Charter rights.
Bario Leblieux — The Right to Be Taught in French or English
Bario’s Family is French Canadian. In the hockey-loving blueberry patch of Oxford, most of the blueberries speak English. While the rest of his hockey team is excited about making it to the Stemley Cup finals, Bario has the blues. He is worried that he is slowly losing his ability to speak French. How can Bario protect his language and culture in Oxford?
This story helps children to understand the right to minority language education, which is guaranteed by section 23 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Minority language education is one component of Canada’s constitutional protection of the two official languages, French and English. This provision provides French and English linguistic minorities with the right to have their children receive schooling in the minority language of their respective province.
The Two Two-Eyed Potatoes — The Right to Choose a Best Friend
In a small warehouse, the potatoes are gearing up for the Potato Blossom Festival. The “Best Friends Rule ” prohibits Taylor and Jordan from being best friends. The Potato Blossom Ball is approaching and Taylor wants to take Jordan. Will the other potatoes open their hearts and allow the friendship to blossom?.
This story seeks to teach children about the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, which is guaranteed by section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Little Couthouse on the Prairie — The Right to Play and Be Free
Just outside of Winnipeg, the bison play all kinds of sports on the prairie fields. But one day, Sheriff Buffy decides to take over all the fields so that the bison can only play hoofball! She tells Emma, a young hoofball player, that hoofball players are superior to all the other players. First, Sheriff Buffy goes after the field hockey players and takes over their fields. Emma and the other bison are too scared to speak up. Then Sherriff Buffy goes after the lacrosse players, and then the soccer players. Will Emma or any of the bison muster the courage to speak up before she comes for them?
This story seeks to teach children about the right to liberty, which is guaranteed by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The right to liberty protects an individual’s freedom to act and pursue his or her interests without oppressive restrictions from the state.
The First Flock — Certain Rights Based on Aboriginal Heritage
Thanadel’s family, a flock of Canadian geese, has been migrating south from the Northwest Territories for centuries. When a flock of crows moves in on their historic resting place, the geese are forced off their land and struggle to survive throughout the cold and harsh winters. Will Thanadel and her flock be able to make peace with the crows and live in harmony again?
This story seeks to teach children about Aboriginal rights, which are guaranteed in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982. Section 35(1) states that “[t]he existing Aboriginal and treaty rights of the Aboriginal peoples of Canada are hereby recognized and affirmed.”
The Greyest Tale on the Yukon Trail — The Right to Be Treated Fairly No Matter What Colour You Are
Sam HusGee is determined to lead his team to Yukon Gold – the gold medal in the Yukon Quest. But the Ministry of Dogsled Affairs refuses to choose Sam to lead the team – all because he has grey fur! Sam HusGee must confront the Ministry if his dream is ever to become a reality, and if grey dogs are ever to be treated fairly.
This story seeks to teach children about the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination on the basis of race, which is guaranteed by section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on…colour [or] race.
In the Hoofsteps of Emooly Murphy — The Right for Boys and Girls to Be Treated as Equals
The Calgary Stampede is home to many cows and bulls who work hard all summer in bull riding and cow riding. Eva loves watching her mother giving rides to children. When Eva learns that her mother is being paid less than the bulls for a hard day’s work, she wants to stand up and make her voice heard at City Stall. She follows in the hooftsteps of the renowned Emooly Murphy and argues for fairness between the bulls and cows at the Stampede.
This story seeks to teach children about the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination on the basis of sex, which is guaranteed by section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section provides that:
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on…sex.
Alexander the Grape — The Right to Be Considered No Matter How Old You Are
Although not yet ripe, Alexander is mature beyond his years. He dreams of the exciting things that await him when he is older – like becoming a bottle of grape juice and travelling to far off lands! With an election underway, he becomes immersed in local politics— campaigning to lower the age necessary to become grape juice. Will the grapes in the vineyard listen to a young grape of only 9 years of age (or 9 and a quarter as he suggests)?
This story seeks to teach children about the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination on the basis of age. This right protects a variety of persons—children, youth, adults, and the elderly—from unfair treatment.
The Golden Hook — The Right to Believe and Have Faith
In St. John’s Harbour, Aatma the cod is banished from his school for wearing a golden hook. This accessory holds significant symbolic value to followers of Newfinism, Aatma’s religion. For the other fish in the harbour, hooks are a symbol of danger. Should Aatma be able to wear his hook to school?
This story seeks to teach children about the freedom of religion, which is guaranteed by section 2(a) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section provides that:
Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms… (a) freedom of conscience and religion.
The right to freedom of religion prohibits state interference with an individual’s religious beliefs and practices.
A Large Jaw in Moose Jaw — The Right to Participate and be Included
The passionate and musical moose Noah is not allowed to participate in Moose Jaw Idol – all because his jaw is too big! Driven by the inspiring music and careers of Canadian music stars such as Alanis Moosette, Noah is compelled to share his story with the townsfolk. Will the Moose Jaw Theatre finally allow him to participate?
This story seeks to teach children about the right to equal treatment and freedom from discrimination on the basis of disability.
Every individual is equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on… mental or physical disability.
Anne of Green Tomatoes — The Right to be Safe and Secure
In the vines of leamington, ON, lives Anne, a green tomato. Every day at the market, the red tomatoes are set out on display. When there is a shortage of red tomatoes, the veggislature orders that green tomatoes be painted red to fill the basket at the market. Anne must learn to outsmart the veggislature or be caught and painted for the market.
This story seeks to teach children about the right to security of the person, which is guaranteed by section 7 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance fwith the principles of fundamental justice.
The Plight Beneath The Northern Light — The Right to Meet and Form Groups
After an oil deposit is found in a town on Hudson Bay, the mayor sees his chance to get rich. He becomes consumed with greed, ignoring the voices of his community. In an effort to continue the advancement of the oil project, he imposes the ‘Two-Bears Rule’. This rule prevents the bears from meeting to protest the oil project. Through creative problem solving, the characters must find a way to meet and band together.
This story seeks to teach children about the freedoms of assembly and association. Freedom of association provides individuals with the right to establish, to belong to, and to maintain an organization. Freedom of assembly is closely linked to freedom of association and provides individuals with the right to meet as members of a group or organization.
The Case of the Missing Montreal Bagel — The Right to Privacy and Security
The Castor family runs a successful bagel shop in Montreal. One morning, a mysterious bagel without a hole is pulled from the oven and becomes a national sensation! Then one morning, the bagel goes missing. Someone stole it! The city is turned upside down in the Castor Cops’ efforts to locate the bagel and find the thief. The beavers of Montreal, who are being searched with no respect for their privacy, are outraged!
This story seeks to teach children about the right to be free from “unreasonable” search and seizure, which is guaranteed by section 8 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This section provides that:
Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
A Portrait of The Artist As A Young Lobster — The Right to Speak, Sing, and Laugh
Aliya is an avid painter who loves expressing her creativity through art. Shediac, New Brunswick, is overrun by the Lob-Mob, crabby gang that has a rule of silence imposed on everyone in the town. It is up to Aliya to use her talents as a visual artist to challenge the Lob-Mob and restore the town’s freedom.
This story seeks to teach children about the freedom of expression. Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms… (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication…(— Section 2(b), the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms)