THUNDER BAY – From February 23rd – 29th 2020, libraries and readers across Canada celebrate Freedom to Read Week. This annual Book and Periodical Council project highlights intellectual freedom and the continuing fight against censorship. For libraries, intellectual freedom is a core value that shapes services, programs, materials and events year-round.
To fully participate in a democracy, citizens must have access to information and develop knowledgeable opinions informed by a variety of perspectives. The Canadian Charter of Rights & Freedoms includes “Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression” as a Fundamental Freedom, while The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 19 guarantees the right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
The Universal Declaration arose from the ashes of World Wars I & II to ensure their horrors would never be repeated. In this light, enshrining people’s rights to thought, opinion and expression recalls book-burnings, imprisonment of dissidents and worse; yet despite our collective hindsight, these acts of censorship still occur on a smaller scale around the world.
Every day libraries inform, challenge, empower and inspire Canadians through collections and events representing diverse points of view and works of the imagination. Libraries are dedicated to protecting the right to intellectual freedom: for people of all ages, and from all walks of life.