OJEN Mission, Objectives & History
OJEN is dedicated to promoting understanding, education, and dialogue to support a responsive and inclusive justice system.
- Foster public understanding of the justice system and the challenges it faces.
- Support and encourage the values of a public, transparent and accessible justice system through research and education.
- Encourage dialogue between justice system participants and the public.
- Develop, coordinate, or deliver justice education information and programs to students and others.
OJEN was founded in 2002 by the three Chief Justices of Ontario:
- The Hon. R. Roy McMurtry of the Court of Appeal,
- The Hon. Patrick LeSage of the Superior Court of Justice, and
- The Hon. Brian W. Lennox of the Ontario Court of Justice.
OJEN grew out of a task force that was convened to look at how we could increase the public’s understanding of our legal system. This task force featured broad participation from experienced members of the legal, government, community-based, and education sectors. Many of these contributors continue to participate as members of OJEN’s Network.
OJEN’s earliest activities focused on the development of classroom teaching resources and programs for high school students and teachers of law and civics. School trips to local courthouses, classroom visits by lawyers and judges, and professional development opportunities for high school teachers became core OJEN activities which we call our Courtrooms and Classrooms programs.
After a few years, OJEN began to explore what justice education should look like for vulnerable groups of youth, especially those who are disengaged from school, or who may have historically negative relationships with the justice system. OJEN’s outreach activities first focused on designing and delivering responsive programs for newcomer, Aboriginal, Francophone and high-risk youth. Today, OJEN develops and offers programs and resources not only in school classrooms but in a range of community settings. Check out OJEN in the Classroom and OJEN in the Community to learn more.