History

In 1981, upon the initiative of Yvon Beaulne, Canada’s former Ambassador to the United Nations, and with the support of Gordon Fairweather, then Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission, the idea of a human rights centre at the University of Ottawa was born.

That same year, fifteen of Canada’s leading constitutional and human rights scholars were invited by the then first Directors of the Centre - Gérald A. Beaudoin and Walter Tarnapolsky - to write chapters discussing the various sections of the newly entrenched Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. After extensive research and editing by the two Directors, the work resulted in a landmark human rights text in Canada entitled “The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: A Commentary”. The publication, published in 1982, soon became the leading work on the Charter and heavily influenced the Supreme Court of Canada in its interpretation of this fundamental constitutional document of Canada. In 1985 and 1993, the Centre published a 2nd and 3rd Editions in both official languages.

One of the oldest in Canada and North America, the Human Rights Research and Education Centre (HRREC) comprises researchers from the Faculties of Common Law, Civil Law, Arts and Social Sciences. Since its creation, the Centre has developed international research and education programs focusing on countries such as Argentina, Brazil, China, El Salvador, India, Indonesia, Kosovo, Thailand, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, among others.

The Centre has grown over time through the dedication and talent of its past directors: late Senator Gérald A. Beaudoin, late Judge Walter Tarnapolsky, Prof. Ed Ratushny, William F. Pentney, Prof. William W. Black, Prof. Errol Mendes, Prof. Constance Backhouse; Prof. Shelia McIntyre, Marie-Claude Roberge, Prof. Joanne St. Lewis and Prof. Lucie Lamarche.

About us

The Centre strives to bring together educators, researchers and students from other disciplines based on the need to approach issues regarding human rights from a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary perspective, both in order to respect such rights and to explore that which they require in a complex, interconnected world. The HRREC benefits from a bilingual and bijuridical environment. The Centre privileges research, teaching and outreach partnerships, with academic units, governmental and civil society organizations.

How to engage with HRREC?

  • Become a Member of the Centre.
  • Attend our events and participate in our research projects and outreach initiatives. Volunteer opportunities are open to undergraduate and graduate students. For information, please contact hrrec@uottawa.ca.
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