By Kevine Ishimwe M and John Abdelsayed
Kevine and John are members of OJEN’s Francophone Youth Leadership Team
The Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) is a charitable, not-for-profit, non-governmental organization with a province-wide mandate. OJEN is developing a Francophone mock appeal program. This program will give French-speaking students in Ontario an opportunity to gain a deeper appreciation for the rights and protections afforded under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
The objective of the program is to strengthen youth attachment to Canada through engagement. OJEN’s Charter Challenge program advances this goal. Engaging students in hands-on experiential learning about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms will develop greater knowledge of and appreciation for not only our country’s diversity but our shared common values and interests.
With support from teachers, lawyer coaches and online “mentors,” student teams prepare and submit written arguments favouring either the appellant or respondent. An online discussion forum staffed by volunteers knowledgeable in constitutional law allows students an opportunity to engage on the issues and pose legal questions. The top two teams are invited to present their arguments to a panel of judges at the Ontario Court of Appeal.
Taking part in this program will help enforce knowledge and skills to analyze current complex situations, learn laws, explore both sides of complex cases and apply them within our lives. Furthermore, you may have a definite feeling of equity and wish to improve the imperfections in the framework; being part of this program will offer you the ability to make a difference through law.
Nonetheless, better communication skills and high versatility towards different career transitions are enforced, especially for french students. As a youth leader, my involvement with this program is to collaborate with adult mentors, corporate lawyers and youth students like myself to come up with questions that are discussed everyday to gain knowledge on how we can better our future either by acquiring qualities like strategic planning, show integrity but also to be guided into the procedures of helping those within my surrounding that have the disadvantages to taking part of their society, to have the capacity to improve their opportunities on the daily basis of their identity.
We recognize that speaking one foreign language is not enough in today’s world, and we notice that besides English, French is the only language that is expressed on all five continents; as a student by participating in this program, learning laws, collaborating with corporate lawyers, this will benefit the labour market at national and international level. Being fortunate enough to learn rules in a language that you already have a better understanding of an analytical language like french will structure thoughts and guide you by developing critical analysis.
Most importantly, within this program, you will be offered a dynamic life impact as a student commits to it. You will have the motives and capacities to help young leaders develop their ability in new languages by increasing their states of being accomplished leaders. Not only would this program help me make lifelong friendships and expand acknowledgement of other countries’ cultures. It would initiate my university application and other short term career goals, such as getting into law school. You will bed to enhance everything that would allow me to use leadership and mutual understanding while also engaging in team projects and learning how to make a difference in my community.
Moreover, this program would most certainly allow me to bring new perspectives; on diversity and have a better understanding of the real meaning of global self-acceptance, especially within the french community. Furthermore, as a participant you would become more aware of yourself through the program’s benefits of fostering adolescents’ maturity, independence and transforming you into a better leader.
This program promotes and inspires participants to gain greater awareness of their rights and responsibilities as young high school students. They will acquire democratic values and will be encouraged to actively participate in political, social and cultural affairs. Ultimately, participants will develop fluent communication skills in dealing effectively with various people and serve as a model of engaged and accountable citizens within their communities.