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​​The Roots of Freedom Program

The Roots of Freedom: Gender, Justice and Literary Arts Program


Location:  PAS NORTH

Deadlines:  Admission closes end of September and end of February

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The Roots of Freedom program is for students between the ages of 16-20 in grades 11-12 who are interested in developing their understanding of identity, culture, status, gender, equity and social justice through examination and social action. The program is offered at Peel Alternative School North in semester 1 and in semester 2 on Thursdays all day, but with a different focus in each semester.  Students who are interested in the subjects can take the program over the course of two semesters and earn as many as 6 credits.

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Semester 1: Gender Studies, Social Justice and Equity Studies, and English.

Semester 2: Interdisciplinary Studies, World Cultures, Social Justice and Equity Studies, 



Beginning with rapport and team building activities, a safe space is created in which students are able to express and examine their identities and the statuses that shape them (including: culture, race, gender, culture, class, sexual orientation, faith, family, citizen/immigrant, age and ability). This is examined in order to bring awareness to privilege and disadvantage that comes with certain status experiences and to work to celebrate diversity within socio-cultural environments, - to examine the movements for social change in societies near and far and the elements of culture that impact and shape efforts made to achieve more rights and freedoms. Students become more socially aware of the dynamics of difference, and celebrate that which unites us all - the desire for freedom, justice, and equality. 


Students will benefit from field trips and learn from guest speakers that will expose students to real world learning and potential career pathways. Then armed with a social awareness of the struggles of various status groups across cultures, students will have the opportunity to move from theoretical and real world understanding toward social action, selecting a particular social issue or cause to champion.  Students who continue on in semester 2 will deepen their understanding of the central program topics through interdisciplinary projects in which they further develop their understanding of the interconnectedness of the course topics, focus on cultural impact on status, and study related job fields, all while acting as peer leaders – as experts guiding the newer students. See course break down for each semester in the Courses section below



  • encourage students to explore differences among individuals based the treatment of statuses that brings privilege or disadvantage to Group Learning.JPGindividuals ( gender, race, culture, sexual orientation, faith, ability, and more)
  • value/respect these differences
  • foster an understanding of policies and laws that support human rights across various cultures
  • examine the continuing challenges to equity and social justice in contemporary society

     help students realize the importance of personal engagement and social action


  • Critical Literacy and Critical Thinking
  • Researching and Inquiry skills
  • Identifying Point of View / Bias in the representations of various program related content
  • Understanding and applying various theories and concepts associated to the study of Gender, Social Justice and Equity, and literary Arts:
  • Communication skills and Reading Skills to work through fiction and non-fiction text forms, and to work with peers in project based learning



  • Allows students to earn 3 credits each semester of the program:  
  •  Draws on the development of literacy, communication and critical and creative thinking skills
  • Provides experiential learning opportunities (field trips, guest speakers, student-created events like awareness campaigns and charitable fundraising)
  • Uses 21st century learning and assessment tools (prezi/powerpoint, blogging with Office 365; podcasting; use of iPad apps, etc.)



Students interested in any of the following fields would benefit from this program

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  • Social Work
  • Community Care
  • Correctional Services
  • Law Enforcement
  • Political or Social Activism
  • Sociology and Criminology
  • Journalism
  • Child and Youth Worker
  • Education




 Gender Studies (HSG3M);

Equity and Social Justice from Theory to Practice (HSE4M);

Grade 11 or 12 university or college English (ENG3U, ENG3C or ENG4U, ENG4C)

World Cultures, (HSC4M)

Interdisciplinary Studies (IDC4U/IDCE4O)Group Activity.JPG

Equity and Social Justice from Theory to Practice (HSE4M);

Grade 11 or 12 university or college English (ENG3U, ENG3C or ENG4U, ENG4C)

Leadership and Peer Support (GPP3OG)


* The course list for semester 2 is longer to allow students who have taken semester one to still earn 3 credits – for example, they may have already earned the last English credit they need, and achieved the Social Justice and Equity studies credit so their focus would be on the interdisciplinary studies, World Cultures and Leadership and Peer Support credits – acting a guides for the newer students.


Classes run Thursdays from 9-12 and 1-3.  Optional tutorial time runs Fridays 9-11 – students are encouraged to attend to catch up if they miss all or part of the program day.



Community partners, project focus, and destinations include:

Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

TIFF   -

Young People's Theatre   -

Friends of Simon Wiesenthal Center for Holocaust Studies -

Tour for Humanity  -

YMCA Cedar Glen Outdoor Centre -

Art Gallery of Ontario -

United Way of Peel Region -

Hope 23/7

White Ribbon Campaign   -

Because I am A Girl  -

Ms G project  -

 Interim Place –



The Roots of Freedom Program is in its first year. Data on post-secondary pathways will be available soon.


The Roots of Freedom Program is in its first year. Action Research on the program has not been completed.



Student photo
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