From Isolation to Inclusion: How the Charter Changed our Perceptions of Being and Belonging


  • Satya Brata Das



The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is an indispensable catalyst in shaping Canadian identity, forming a rich and diverse mainstream that integrates and intermingles many streams of human experience. The idea of Canada and what it means to be Canadian is dynamic and evolving, empowered by a Charter that arguably for the first time recognized and affirmed Indigenous peoples as the founding nations of Canada, and nurtured a sense of inclusion that promoted unity in diversity. Just as emergence from the Covid-19 pandemic has been a journey from isolation to inclusion, so has the forging of Canadian identity since the adoption of the Constitution Act, 1982. Drawing from stories shared in a circle aux batons-rampus, and from observations from a four-decade career as a public intellectual, I argue that Canadians’ evolving sense of being and belonging, brought into even sharper relief by the Covid-19 pandemic, is shaped by a Charter which embraced both individual and collective rights.