The continuing COVID-19 pandemic has required OJEN to suspend school-based, in-person programming for the remainder of 2020. While some of our programs are on hold, we have adapted others to an online format and added new virtual programs. The list below shows the status of OJEN’s main school-based programs this fall:
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, fill out our online request form.
In-person courthouse visits will not be facilitated through OJEN for the rest of this calendar year. Our online booking form is currently disabled. 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, this is a fun, day-long, twitter debate for high school law classes. OJEN staff are currently working on program materials to be available for 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 and a best tweet and a best school team are chosen as winners. Program materials will be released later this month.
Steps to Justice Workshops
Over the past year, OJEN has developed 10 workshops for youth on different legal topics. Find them on the Resources for Remote Teaching and Learning page of our website. 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 which can be facilitated online. Online facilitator’s training is also 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 a separate French-only Charter Challenge for Francophone students for the first time this fall. Look for more information about Défi de la charte in the coming weeks.
OBA-OJEN Competitive Mock Trial Tournament (OOCMT)
Although this program doesn’t happen until the spring of 2021, many teachers may be interested in planning ahead for the 2021 OOCMT. We are moving forward with the development of a new scenario and planning for the possibility of in-person tournaments in April and May. We will also be prepared to offer alternative online programming next spring, if necessary. We will continue to keep you updated on these plans throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
And don’t forget: please buy your tickets for Tate’s Tableaux!
Annual 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 Tate’s Tableaux will be held by Zoom with an entertaining lineup of musicians and comedians. Tickets are $25 per device.