The Human Rights Institute of Canada fonds contains the records of the Human Rights Institute of Canada and its founder and president, Marguerite Ritchie. The Human Rights Institute of Canada is an independent, not for profit, non-partisan research group which conducts and promotes research into issues that impede equality for Canadians, as per the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with a specific focus on women’s equality. This Institute was founded by Ottawa based lawyer, Marguerite Ritchie, a former lawyer for the Department of Justice and Vice-Chair of the Anti-Dumping Tribunal. The fundamental premise of the Institute was to provide expert legal research to the Canadian people in the same way that the Department of Justice gives legal advice to the Government of Canada. As founder and President, Marguerite Ritchie set the tone for the Institute and this fonds also contains her papers from before she founded the Human Rights Institute of Canada.
The materials in this fonds date from 1934 to 2013. Materials from the Human Rights Institute of Canada are from 1973 to 2013, while legal research materials date back to the 1700s. The fonds pertains predominately to Canada, with some research on the United States of America (USA), Europe, the Soviet Union (USSR), the Middle East, and Africa. With the exception of United Nations conferences and research on Israel, most of the research on other nations and regions is for a point of comparison for rights, equality, and politics.
The fonds contains three types of materials: those of Marguerite Ritchie from her personal life and career before she founded the Human Rights Institute of Canada, those relating to the functioning of the institute, such as administrative records, and those relating to the work of the Institute produced mainly by President Marguerite Ritchie. Documents from the work of the Human Rights Institute of Canada is the largest portion of the fonds. Materials produced by the Institute were generated mostly by the projects it was involved with, including tracking issues over the course of years and its efforts to publicise its research in the media and the government. This fonds does not contain working papers of volunteers. Function based Institute records document the Human Rights Institute of Canada’s founding, its procedures, funding, support, and organisation. Materials of founder Marguerite Ritchie contain research from her work at the Department of Justice and the Anti-Dumping Tribunal, Anti-Dumping Tribunal procedures, her personal experiences facing sexism and gender discrimination while working for the federal government. It also includes her personal research on women’s issues which she began while working for the Department of Justice and which became a life-long passion.
The Human Rights Institute of Canada addresses issues of women’s equality, human rights, the United Nations and international law, Canadian laws and equality, the functioning of government, equality in the justice system, the relationship between the federal governments and the provinces, and funding and support for the Institute. Major projects the Institute worked on to address these issues include Persons Case II, Senate reform, the Meech Lake Accord and Charlottetown Accord, status equality for aboriginal women, the Expropriation of Nanoose Bay, the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples and the high arctic relocations, the Royal Commission on the Status of Women and following the development of the status of women, Quebec separatism, and the Official Languages Act and bilingualism. The most common document types are newspaper clippings, memorandum, correspondence, press releases, reports, legislation, House of Commons and Senate debates, committee minutes and proceedings from Parliament, promotional materials, and government publications. Newspaper clippings are mostly annotated with citations and marginalia. The fonds also contains a significant number of Dialogue magazines; Marguerite Ritchie was a long time contributor to this magazine, which publishes reader contributed articles on political and social issues from a variety of perspectives.