Sel’ McCallum felt nervous standing in front of a justice of the peace, she says.
McCallum participated in a mock bail hearing at Flemingdon Park Neighbourhood Services as a student in an Ontario Justice Education Network (OJEN) program.
“The OJEN mock trial was a very fun and exciting experience for me because I learned a lot about how cases are studied in a courtroom,” she said. “(I was) very nervous but eager to present my closing statements for the defence side.”
I don’t think enough French language teachers realize there are all of these wonderful resources available through OJEN.
The twist: she presented those closing statements in French.
OJEN offers justice education programs to high school students that have a negative history with the court system. The network also provides learning resources to high school civics and law teachers, and is preparing to conduct a mock trial tournament in French starting Feb. 4.
Guylaine Bernard, a law teacher with the Eastern Ontario French Public School Board, says she uses these resources to build her students’ French skills in preparation for the tournaments.
“I always use a mock trial scenario from OJEN’s website with my Grade 12 law classes,” Bernard said. “I assign different roles to the students, everything from judge to the accused.
“The students truly enjoy the activity.”
Bernard, also a member of the Ottawa OJEN Committee, helps recruit justice professionals who speak French to volunteer and work alongside teachers at their request.
“There are lots of activities for students that are very good,” she said. “I don’t think enough French language teachers realize there are all of these wonderful resources available through OJEN.”
For McCallum, the experience of going through the mock bail hearing in French was important, she said.
“I don’t speak fluent French, but I am taking French throughout high school to learn,” McCallum said.
The OJEN tournament’s mock trials are set to take place in February, March and April in Ottawa, and are to be heard by real judges.