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Augmented reality makes Charter of Rights and Freedoms come alive

A visitor's hands hold a tablet that carries an image of four animated people including a little boy, a young Indigenous woman, a man wearing an apron and a woman judge.

Photo: CMHR, Aaron Cohen

News release details

Augmented reality is being used to show the importance of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a whole new way.

A powerful new augmented reality (AR) app, titled Proclamation 1982, was launched today by the Canadian Museum for Human Rights (CMHR). The app takes users through some of the stories on the journey to the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982 which enshrined the Charter in Canada’s Constitution. 

Visitors to the Museum’s third-floor gallery Protecting Rights in Canada can use iPads to make virtual people and objects appear in front of them, along with video, audio and historic images. The immersive experience is also designed to be used anywhere in the world, simply by downloading the app to a phone or tablet. 

“Advanced technology like AR is particularly helpful as we extend ourselves to connect with younger Canadians, to help them understand how and why their rights exist,” said CMHR President and CEO Dr. John Young. “By creating this app, we’re leveraging the latest digital tools to engage in the oldest form of communication – storytelling – as a way to reach Canadians from coast to coast to coast.”

The app was developed by Halifax-based Brave New World in collaboration with the Museum’s digital team. It uses Apple’s ARKit, cutting-edge technology also used on popular apps by Ikea, Edmunds, TapMeasure, Houzz and Wayfair. 

Rare legal artifacts also on display

The CMHR also welcomes the return of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act 1982, a rarely loaned document from Library and Archives Canada signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Pierre ElliottTrudeau. Smudges caused by rain at the signing ceremony can be seen in parts of this important document, which repatriated the Constitution from the United Kingdom to Canada. 

“A symbol of Canada’s status as a sovereign country, the 1982 Proclamation of theConstitution Actis Canada’s most important constitutional document. Library and Archives Canada is pleased, via this app, to allow this groundbreaking work, as well as other artefacts from our vast collection, to be viewed and interpreted on electronic devices in Canada or around the world,” said Dr. Guy Berthiaume, Librarian and Archivist of Canada.

For Graham Lowes, a middle-school teacher currently working as the CMHR’s Educator-in-Residence, the app is a great tool to help engage students.

“As a teacher, I’m constantly in search of ways to connect with students on their level,” said Lowes, who is on secondment from the Louis Riel school division “Putting these essential human rights stories at their fingertips helps engage and inspire them to take action for rights in their communities.” 

The free app is available for download as of today to iOS devices from the App Store. 

The CMHR is grateful to Library and Archives Canada for its partnership in the development of the app.

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Rorie McLeod