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Defenders for Human Rights
Rosemary Sadlier

Rosemary Sadlier Human Dignity

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GRADE LEVELS = 7 to 12  /  SUGGESTED TIME = Three 60 minute class periods

How to use this lesson

Global and Canadian Defenders for human rights have changed societal conditions and provide inspiration for students. The overall goal of Speak Truth to Power Canada is to raise student awareness that advances in human rights come through the actions of individuals.

In this lesson plan on Human Dignity you will find:

  • An interview with Rosemary Sadlier including her biography.
  • Student activities that support the theme of this lesson, including activities related to Black History Month, contributions to Canada by Black Canadians, a racial profiling scan of one’s community, derogatory terms commonly used today, and the effect of various discriminatory practices and thinking on individual human dignity.
  • Three brief community defender profiles to expand the lesson and encourage students to identify with a variety of defenders for human rights.

To support the lesson on Human Dignity, you will also find:

  • Sections or articles of selected legal instruments that are tied to the theme of Human Dignity.
  • An advocacy activity that links to the Moments in Time timeline of advancements and setbacks in human rights from a Canadian perspective.

You can, of course, choose to use any or all of the suggested student activities.

Learning Targets

During this lesson students will:

  • Be knowledgeable of the role played by Black people in Canada’s history to present day.
  • Understand that racism of any kind has no place in today’s society.
  • Realize that human dignity is affected by other forms of discrimination based on culture, religion and socioeconomic factors.
  • Share their knowledge with fellow students.

Skills Development

After this lesson students will have improved the following skills:

  • Adding meaningful reflection to a group discussion
  • Gathering, synthesizing, interpreting and evaluating information
  • Making inferences and drawing conclusions
  • Building consensus through cooperation
  • Presenting research orally and visually
  • Writing an essay
  • Implementing advocacy activities

Guiding Questions

  1. Racial segregation exists in many ways in Canada. What are these?
  2. Why is it necessary for everyone to have role modeling?
  3. Is freedom the same for all?
  4. Why is there no “White History” month?


Opportunities and issues related to human rights are integrated throughout the curriculum. This lesson plan suggests student activities that will match curriculum expectations in Language, Social Sciences, Health, Art as well as Health and Wellness, Citizenship, Law, and Technology.


Depending on the activities chosen it may be necessary to have access to a television, the Internet, computers, and/or films (on DVD or streamed) in addition to presentation materials to support individual student and group presentations.

Legal Instruments

Speak Truth to Power Canada highlights legal instruments in their simplified forms, which relate to the themes addressed in the 12 lesson plans. Selected articles and sections of these legal instruments are offered in this lesson plan to complement the discussion and the research.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

  • Article 1: Right to equality
  • Article 2: Freedom from discrimination
  • Article 3: Right to life, liberty and personal security
  • Article 4: Freedom from slavery
  • Article 5: Freedom from torture and degrading treatment
  • Article 6: Right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law
  • Article 7: Right to equality before the law
  • Article 8: Right to remedy by competent tribunal

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

  • Fundamental Freedoms
  • Democratic Rights
  • Mobility Rights
  • Legal Rights
  • Equality Rights
  • Enforcing the Charter

United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • Article 11: Right to culture
  • Article 13: Right to language, histories and oral traditions
  • Article 33: Right to Identity, membership and citizenship