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Canadians reminded of their freedom to read

By Molly Little [1]

BELLEVILLE – Canadians are being encouraged to recognize their right to read anything they want with the Freedom to Read Week [2] project.

This year’s Freedom to Read Week took place from Feb. 21 to 27, in which banned books and magazines were highlighted.

Participating libraries and schools across the country put on events to show that the banning of content continues to be a problem.

The Parrott Centre [3], Loyalist College’s library, got involved this year. No specific event was held but Reference and Collection Development Technician, Jennifer Dupuis, said that the library was still responsible for educating the public about the issue.

“As a library, part of our role every single day is to support intellectual freedom,” she said. “So we buy material on a range of different subjects, from a range of different viewpoints, maybe things not everyone is going to agree with.”

Dupuis said that the banning of content is something that the public needs to question.

“I think it is very important to get people talking about it,” she said. “Why are these books being challenged? Why do we find their content to be so difficult that we want to pull them off shelves and keep them away from people?”

Franklin Carter, a member of the Freedom of Expression Committee [4] which oversees the week, says it is difficult to determine just how much content is taken off bookshelves each year.

He told QNet News that the list of challenged content “is always incomplete.”

The freedom of expression is guaranteed under the Canadian Charter of Right and Freedoms [5], a right that is infringed upon with the banning of books and magazines.

“It interferes with readers’ freedom of choice, it prevents readers from learning new ideas and information, it interferes with thought. It’s an obstacle to individual and social progress,” said Carter.

The Freedom to Read project works year round to educate the public on their rights and let them know that those same rights are being challenged.

“We believe all Canadians have an interest in fighting censorship whenever and wherever it arises.”

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