Learning Experience 2: What are Human Rights?

Learning Goal: Defining human rights in Canada




• Icebreakers for the Classroom
• Ask students if they can list what they consider to be human rights. Begin by offering examples such as free speech, religious freedom, etc.
• Have a discussion about human rights. Post notes on the discussion (either on the board or virtually) and invite students to post their ideas themselves. Possible questions to ask:
1. What do you know about human rights?
2. Are human rights important?
3. What is the difference between rights, freedoms, privileges?
4. What is social justice?
5. What is the difference between social justice and human rights?
6. Are rights ever violated? Does the legislation of human rights eradicate social problems?
7. How can we pursue social justice while protecting human rights?
8. See page 44 in Debating Rights Inflation in Canada: A Sociology of Human Rights.
Considerations: “If social justice is a dialogue around grievances against state and society, then human rights are those principles that make the dialogue possible” (Debating Rights Inflation in Canada: A Sociology of Human Rights, p. 10).
“Rights have … been a rallying cry for those committed to equality, inclusivity, and diversity rather than exclusion and privilege” (Human Rights in Canada: A History, p. 7).


• Human Rights Defined

• Have students brainstorm as a group what they consider human rights or what 3 words come to mind when they think of human rights.
• What should we teach as human rights in school? (Debating Rights Inflation in Canada: A Sociology of Human Rights, p. 54.)
• Ask students to list the three most important human rights. • History of Rights in Canada:
1. The Evolution of Human Rights in Canada
2. Canada’s Human Rights History


• Book a workshop with the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.
• Other possible organizations:
1. Equitas
2. John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights