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Freedom to Read Week - February 21 to 27

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Freedom to Read Week 2010

Public Events Planned Across Canada

Every year, the Book and Periodical Council (BPC) organizes Freedom to Read Week to promote intellectual freedom in Canada.

Our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, "ensures the fundamental freedoms of thought, belief, opinion and expression," but the BPC points out that "Books and reading material have frequently been removed from public libraries and schools as a result of challenges or complaints.... Even in Canada, journalists and broadcasters are often faced with censure, lawsuits or other attempts to silence them." Go to www.freedomtoreadweek.ca to find out how you can participate in this year's Freedom to Read Week (February 21 to 27), and have a look at their latest List of Challenged Books and Magazines, you may be surprised by what's on there.

From the Book and Periodical Council:

Public readings, contests and panel discussions will be held across Canada as part of the 2010 Freedom to Read Week (Feb. 21 to 27). These events are a great opportunity for Canadians to express themselves on the issue of censorship and the right to free speech and opinion.

“We need to continually remind Canadians that a basic right they take for granted can, and will be, eroded if we don’t guard against it,” said Marg Anne Morrison, Chair of the Freedom of Expression Committee. That is why Freedom to Read Week is so important — it brings the issue out in the open for debate, discussion and scrutiny.”

A complete list of events and locations is available at www.freedomtoreadweek.ca/events.

Around the world censorship continues to be a major human rights concern. In Canada, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms ensures the fundamental freedoms of thought, belief, opinion and expression. Yet many times these rights conflict with cultural claims or the beliefs of over-zealous groups and individuals. Books and reading material have frequently been removed from public libraries and schools as a result of challenges or complaints from such groups. Even in Canada, journalists and broadcasters are often faced with censure, lawsuits or other attempts to silence them.

Freedom to Read Week is organized by the Book and Periodical Council’s Freedom of Expression Committee, which has just been awarded the 2010 Les Fowlie Intellectual Freedom Award by the Ontario Library Association. The Award is in recognition of the committee’s work in promoting intellectual freedom for all Canadians.

The Committee also produces an annual publication called Freedom to Read, which reviews issues of censorship, freedom of expression and access to Canadian books and periodicals. An educators’ section is also included for teachers, librarians and the community at large.

To learn more about Freedom to Read Week, and for details on all events, please visit www.freedomtoreadweek.ca.

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