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Augmented Reality Makes Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms Come Alive

Winnipeg - August, 2019 - Augmented reality is being used to show the importance of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in a whole new way at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

A powerful new augmented reality (AR) app, titled Proclamation 1982, was launched 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 Elliott Trudeau. 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 the Constitution Act is 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.


Digital technology at the CMHR

CMHR galleries have more than 100 hours of video, including eight feature films shown in seven theatres. They also incorporate over 25 interactive digital elements and 18 mixed-media story alcoves. A digital poster-making activity in the CMHR's special exhibition Mandela: Struggle for Freedom recently won two international awards. The CMHR's new exhibition on the Rohingya genocide includes a voice-activated digital interactive through which Rohingya-Canadians directly answer visitors' verbal questions about their lives and concerns via pre-recorded video clips. Augmented reality technology is also used in Journey to Inspiration, a self-guided app for CMHR visitors, and was previously used in Stitching our Struggles, an app launched in conjunction with the 2016 exhibit Freedom of Expression in Latin America.

Legal artifacts on display in the Museum's gallery on Level 3 include:

an original copy of the Proclamation of the Constitution Act, 1982 signed by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau;an original copy of the 1960 Canadian Bill of Rights, the first federal law that protected Canadians' rights;an original copy of the Royal Proclamation of 1763 which established the constitutional framework for treaty negotiation;an original court robe and a reproduction of the beaded medallion worn by the Honourable Leonard S. Mandamin, an Anishinaabe judge who presided over the Tsuut'ina and Siksika First Nation courts in Alberta;an original copy of Treaty No. 4 signed in 1874 and a chief's medal to commemorate the signing.



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