In this challenge, students investigate the contributions made by selected groups living in Alberta during the 19th and early 20th centuries and then write a letter of appreciation to an appropriate cultural organization that describes key legacies of one of these groups.
Introduce the lesson by noting how people in Alberta have benefited from the contributions of other Albertans throughout history. Just as we thank people who come to a celebration and give gifts, it would also be appropriate to find out the gifts provided by various groups who moved to Alberta and thank them for these contributions.
Divide the class into teams and assign each team one of the following groups to investigate:
- Francophones; e.g., missionaries, voyageurs
- British; e.g., settlers from other parts of Canada, North West Mounted Police
- European immigrants; e.g., Scandinavian countries, Iceland, Doukhobours, Hutterites, Mennonites
- Asians; e.g., Chinese railway workers
- Americans; e.g., settlers from the United States.
Invite and assist students to formulate research questions on the experiences and contributions of these groups. Questions might include:
- Who are you are researching?
- Where did these people come from originally?
- Why did they come to Alberta?
- What challenges did they face in coming to Alberta?
- Where did they settle or live in Alberta?
- Did they settle in a rural or urban community? Why?
- How did they make a living in Alberta?
- In what ways did they positively change Alberta?
Ask students to use textbooks, pictures and the Internet to seek answers to these questions. Students can work in teams and compare their findings. Solicit adults or older students to help emergent readers and writers read the questions and record answers. Consider adapting Recording Our Research (Support Material) or Collecting Information (Support Material) to structure and assess students' researchyou will need to modify and add questions in the charts to reflect those generated by students in the class.
Invite students to consider the legacy or gifts of their assigned group, based on their research. Ask students to list all the ways in which their group made Alberta a better place and then decide which of these gifts is most special. When determining the especially notable legacies, invite students to consider criteria, such as:
- contribution to the development of communities
- creation of institutions or organizations that continue to make Alberta a better place to live
- enrichment of the culture of Alberta
- improvement to the quality of life of other Albertans
- inspiration provided to others.
Invite students to write a letter of appreciation to an appropriate cultural organization they researched, e.g., a Chinese cultural association, or an organization that is connected to the group today (see References). In the letter, students should summarize three or four historical contributions made by the group and explain why one or two of these contributions are especially notable. Consider adapting the chart in Selecting the Best Thing (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.