OJEN Program Directions to the End of 2020
OJEN is not planning for any in-person, school-based, justice education programs for the remainder of 2020. We will reassess the situation in December and decide whether or not to resume in-person programming in the New Year. The safety and well-being of the program participants, partners, volunteers and staff are our first priority. We also recognise that plans to resume education for high school, middle school and elementary students in 2020-2021 remains a fluid and shifting situation. As educators across the province prepare for both in-person and online instruction this fall, we recommend that OJEN committees hold off on planning any of the justice education programs they would ordinarily organize for the fall.
Not all justice education programs we would ordinarily run in-person, easily transition to online platforms. We are mindful of the limitations of online programs. We recognize that they may not be as accessible or engaging to youth audiences as many of our in-person activities can be. With this in mind, OJEN staff recommend that OJEN committees consider supporting the following online justice education activities for the rest of the calendar year:
Classrooms visits & virtual courthouse tours
Classroom visits will proceed through a videoconferencing format for teachers who are interested in booking a speaker for their classes. When requests come in through the website, OJEN staff will reach out to the local committees to recruit a speaker. In-person courthouse visits will not be facilitated through OJEN for the rest of this calendar year. Our online booking form is disabled and we will re-evaluate the possibility of resuming the courthouse visit program sometime in the New Year. In the meantime, we encourage Ontario educators to use OJEN’s artandthecourts.ca website, which includes virtual tours of Osgoode Hall, Court of Appeal courtrooms and the McMurtry Gardens of Justice. We have added new content to the virtual tours over the summer. Virtual tours in English launched at the end of August and virtual tours in French will launch at the end of September.
First developed and run by the OJEN Hamilton committee a few years ago, all OJEN committees will be encouraged to take up this fun, day-long, twitter debate this fall. OJEN staff are currently working on program materials which will allow all interested committees to run this online program during Access to Justice Week at the end of October. How it works: using a special hashtag, students tweet their comments about a specific legal issue that has been established as this year’s theme. The tweets are monitored by a team of lawyers or judges on the committee, and a best tweet and a best school team are chosen as winners. Program materials will be released later this month. Check out how the Hamilton OJEN Committee has run this successful and innovative program.
Steps to Justice Workshops
Over the past year, OJEN has developed 10 workshops for youth on different legal topics. The workshops are based on the Steps to Justice website, an excellent public legal information resource produced and hosted by OJEN’s partner organization, Community Legal Education Ontario (CLEO). OJEN’s Steps to Justice workshops use scenarios to share information about the law, and teach young people how to navigate the Steps to Justice website. Initially offered as in-person workshops, we have developed a version of OJEN’s Steps to Justice workshops which can be facilitated online. Committees interested in offering this program in their community can contact the OJEN office. Online facilitator’s training is available.
We continue to encourage teachers to have their classes or extra-curricular groups participate in the Charter Challenge. Each semester, OJEN releases a mock judicial decision in which complex Charter issues are raised on appeal. Students all over Ontario, submit factum with legal arguments in favour of the appellant or the respondent. The two best teams make their case before a panel of real judges – currently, by video conference.
Recent funding from the Ministry of Canadian Heritage is allowing us to offer the Charter Challenge in French to Francophone students for the first time this fall. Look for more information about this program in the coming weeks.
Tate’s Tableaux Fundraiser for OJEN: October 24th 8:00 p.m.
For the last 6 years, the Hebert family in Barrie, Ontario, has hosted a fundraising event in memory of their son, Tate, and donated the proceeds to OJEN. They have raised approximately $30,000 for OJEN since 2014. This year the event will be held online with an entertaining lineup of musicians and comedians. We would appreciate your support promoting the event. It is our only annual fundraising activity and it supports OJEN justice education initiatives. Please see the webpage for event and ticket information.
OBA-OJEN Competitive Mock Trial Tournament (OOCMT)
Although this program doesn’t happen until the spring of 2021, many committees may be interested in planning ahead for the 2021 OOCMT. We are moving forward with the development of a new scenario for the 2021 OOCMT. We are planning for the possibility of in-person tournaments for April and May, but we will be prepared to offer alternative online programming next spring, should the Covid-19 pandemic prevent in-person events. We will continue to keep you updated on these plans throughout the 2020-2021 school year.