Students explore the tensions among nationalist and non-nationalist loyalties by attempting to reach consensus at a simulated national summit on reconciling multiple affiliations in Canada.
Introduce the issue of divided loyalties
Begin the investigation of competing affiliations with examples of actual or hypothetical disputes between two individuals or groups where loyalties are divided; e.g., a family who has relatives competing on opposing sports teams or for a different national team, building a facility that is important to the city or province but will have negative effects on the local community. Invite students to identify various sources of competing loyalties; e.g., provincial versus local interests. Encourage students to identify other examples of divided loyalties; e.g., friends and parents, church group and sports team. As a class, discuss how a person might reconcile these competing loyalties. In discussing these situations, you may wish to structure the activities so that students do not raise personal issues or disclose confidential or potentially embarrassing or harmful information.
Introduce divided loyalties at national level
Select a famous Canadian dispute, such as the 1964–65 flag debate, as an example of the opportunities and challenges in the search for unity and consensus on important national issues (see References). To meet diverse learning needs, consider reviewing the issue orally and/or present background reading for the students. Invite students to identify the different perspectives on this issue. As a class, discuss how a person might reconcile these competing loyalties. Togain a historical perspective on divided loyalties in Canada,students may view selections from the CBC television series Canada: A People’s History—Episode 17: In an Uncertain World may be especially relevant.
Introduce consensus building
Invite students to identify the issues raised when trying to decide matters involving competing loyalties. Consider such questions as:
- How do we ensure that our rights and interests are advanced?
- How do we ensure that the voices and rights of other groups are respected?
- How should decisions be reached to ensure that all parties are treated in a respectful manner?
In deciding how public policy decisions should be made, invite students to consider questions such as:
- What are the concerns about simple majority rule?
- How important and realistic is it to reach consensus on key issues?
- Should varying nationalist groups simply be given jurisdiction over certain areas?
Which areas? Where do you draw the line?
Ask students to suggest possible strategies to manage the difficulties and maximize the benefits in a way that is fair to all.
Introduce national summit
Invite students to take part in a national summit. The goal of the summit is to arrive at consensus on a set of principles to determine how best to accommodate multiple loyalties in the Canadian context—both rival nationalist visions and competing non-national loyalties; e.g., religion, region, culture, race, ideology, class.
For detailed instructions and relevant support materials to conduct a mock summit, consult Reaching Group Consensus (Modelling the Tools).
Assign delegate roles
Explain that each student will assume the role of a delegate from one of the groups cited below. Working with one or more colleagues, students are to develop a position that reflects the perspective of an assigned group within Canada. The following groups are possible delegations to the summit:
- Western Canadians
- Anglophones in Québec
- Anglophones in central Canada
- Francophones outside of Québec
- coalition of Aboriginal groups (First Nations, Métis, Inuit)
- coalition of visible minorities (e.g., Muslim Canadians, Black Canadians).
To meet diverse learning needs, consider limiting or increasing the number of assigned groups.
Prepare for the summit
Provide briefing sheets on each group's concerns or direct groups to prepare a briefing note outlining the following:
- major historical events impacting the group
- key interests and concerns as a group
- issues related to the accommodation of competing nationalist and non-nationalist loyalties.
Conduct the summit
Each group is to present its proposed resolutions for accommodating competing loyalties to the larger assembly for discussion and negotiation. Encourage students to try to reach consensus on key proposals. You may want to structure the summit in the following stages:
- prepare profile of group's interests and concerns
- develop resolutions for consideration regarding how to manage conflicting loyalties in Canada
- share proposals and negotiate with other delegations
- revise proposed resolutions in light of first round of negotiations
- hold second round of negotiation with other delegations
- hold final vote on all resolutions submitted
- debrief the experience.
Reflect on the experience
After the summit, ask students to reflect on the simulation and on the main conclusions of the summit. To be judged a success, the summit should arrive at resolutions that:
- respect to the extent possible everyone's individual rights and freedoms
- contribute to Canadian unity and prosperity.
During reflection, encourage students to identify to what extent and in what ways their opinions or perspectives changed as a result of the summit discussions.
Extension: Apply the conclusions
Present the class with a current issue in the news that involves contending loyalties. Using the principles negotiated during the summit, ask each student to write an editorial in response to the issue. An effective editorial should encompass the following characteristics or criteria:
- state a clear position on the issue
- formulate thoughtful arguments in light of the articulated principles
- support the arguments with relevant and accurate evidence.