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Kids Shine in the First Annual CanU Moot

Law students mentor grades 7 to 9 kids through "Law Academy" ending in moot experience with real judges

February 23, 2018 — 

Since 2016, over 300 kids from schools across Winnipeg have attended Robson Hall with hopes of learning what law school is like. While at Robson Hall these kids have learned about the importance of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, how to identify when their rights and freedoms are violated, and how to fight for those rights when they are unjustifiably taken away.

CanU Law began in 2016 with a one-hour “Explore Law” program during which a different group of kids in grades 5-6 came to the law school for an hour long session each week to learn about the Charter and to get a feel for advocacy. Due to the program’s success and the high number of kids interested in the law program, an advanced program entitled “Law Academy” was developed for kids in grades 7-9. This new five-week program began on January 18th, 2018 and provided a much more robust exploration of the Charter and repeated opportunities for the young students to hone their advocacy skills.

Over the first three weeks, students engaged with a lesson plan led by law student volunteers and interactive activities to learn about the Oakes Test, Freedom of Expression, and Equality Rights. The students were given the opportunity to utilize the lessons they learned each session through debates and advocacy exercises. In the fourth week, the students were introduced to a relatable Moot Problem that engaged both Freedom of Expression and Equality Rights. With the mentorship of law student volunteers, the students spent the remainder of the session developing their submissions with their respective teams.

The final session of CanU Law Academy was held on February 15th, 2018, at the Manitoba Courts. The kids arrived at the courts with arguments, nerves, and excitement in tow, and were set up in one of the courtrooms reserved for the occasion. Much to the kid’s surprise, three Provincial Court judges generously agreed to volunteer their time to preside over each matter: Chief Judge Margaret Wiebe; Judge Raymond Wyant; and Judge Sandra Chapman. Despite the compounded pressure of a real courtroom, a real judge, and real Charter issues, the kids presented remarkably well-prepared and compelling arguments.

After concluding their submissions, the kids took the opportunity to talk with the judges informally and learn more about the role of judges and some of the finer nuances of the Charter. Following the Q & A, the kids were awarded Certificates of Completion of CanU Law Academy and got their photos snapped with two of the judges to mark the conclusion of a very successful and inspiring CanU Moot.

The Manitoba Law Student Association’s Community Outreach Committee is eager to continue expanding and improving their CanU programming in years to come. If you’d like to get involved with this exciting initiative in the 2018/2019 school year, please consider either applying to the Community Outreach Committee during the MLSA’s call for applications or attending the CanU Recruitment Lunch in September of 2018.

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