April 17th marked the 35th anniversary of The Canadian Charterof Rights and Freedoms. To celebrate this milestone we will be sharing with you 35 blogs that highlight the profound impact of this document. Check in every week to learn about the fact, evolution, advocates, and effect The Charter has had in Canadian society!

Our country is renowned throughout the world for the many rights and liberties that its citizens enjoy. The fundamental freedoms of Canada can be found in Section II of The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The freedoms listed guide the laws that Canadian governments create and are the common values that define us as a nation. Today’s blog will describe what these basic freedoms are and their relevance in our lives.

Section II of The Charter states that:

Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

(a) freedom of conscience and religion;

(b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

(c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

(d) freedom of association.”

Freedom of Conscience and religion means that every Canadian has the freedom to follow whichever religion, ideology or system of belief they choose. This freedom is granted regardless of whatever belief you may subscribe to. All are invited to worship in whatever way they see fit, contributing to a rich pattern of diversity in our nation.

Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression grant Canadians the freedom to freely express their opinions and ideas in all venues without the fear of retribution from the government.  Our free press is a direct result of this fundamental freedom, as is our ability to publish art, opinion, or academic literature.

Freedom of peaceful assembly means that our capacity to gather in peaceful groups is also protected by the Charter. Canadians can congregate for the purpose of protest, worship, or even to listen to a rock concert.

Freedom of association allows us to affiliate with a group, such as a trade union, human rights activist organization or political faction. Your ability to become a member of a political party is protected by the Charter, even if that political party is presently in the minority.

The true implications of these freedoms become apparent when we observe how people live around the world. At this very moment, there are millions of individuals that are without basic freedoms.

They cannot worship or express themselves how they desire. They cannot gather without interference or associate themselves with certain organizations. Governments that are supposed to protect the rights of its citizens routinely exploit them. Millions are even hunted by their governments because of their beliefs and inclinations.

In Canada we have the privilege to do all of the above and more. We owe much to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and especially to the fundamental freedoms listed, for the current free society that we live in.