Students examine the ways of life of people who helped develop Canada during the 19th through 21st centuries, such as Francophones, Métis, North West Mounted Police, United Empire Loyalists, immigrants from the British Isles, European immigrants and non-European immigrants. After researching contributions, students determine the most significant legacy of an assigned group and create a coat of arms to honour those contributions.
Introduction to contributions by groups
Assign students to one of the following groups of people:
- Francophones in Québec or across Canada
- North West Mounted Police
- United Empire Loyalists; i.e., British from the United States of America
- immigrants from the British Isles; e.g., from Scotland, Ireland, Wales
- European immigrants; e.g., from Ukraine, Poland, Russia, Germany
- non-European immigrants; e.g., from China, Japan, Africa.
Inform students that they will work in teams to research their group's contributions to the development of Canada. Students may consider these questions:
- What events led to this group's presence in Canada?
- What was their role in developing Canada?
- Where in Canada did they live or work?
- What important historical events happened to this group of people?
- What challenges did they experience; e.g., pressures to conform, discrimination, barriers to communication?
- What contributions did they make to Canada; e.g., cultural, social, economic, political, humanitarian?
- How did Canada change as a result of their contributions?
Discuss types of contributions
It may be useful to provide examples of the following types of contributions:
- cultural: traditions, folklore, language, rules of behaviour, styles of dress, food and religious celebrations such as Christmas
- social: community building, informal gatherings
- economic: establishment of industries, innovations
- political: participating in government, lawmaking, law enforcement
- humanitarian: commitments to improving the lives of others.
Conduct the research
Ask students to use point-form notes and to cite references. Encourage students to use online bibliography tools for citing and formatting references, such as those supports at Noodle Tools and Research Helper (see References).
You may want to adapt one of the charts in Recording Our Research (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Rate the impact of the group on development of Canada
After the research is complete, ask each team to rate the impact of its assigned group on the development of Canada. The criteria for significant impact might include the following:
- clearly connect to the cultural group
- changed other's beliefs, ideas, practices
- greatly improved the lives of others
- long-lasting impact.
You may want to adapt one of the charts in Rating Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity. If you use this chart, ask groups to list 8 to 10 contributions in the Factors column. Consider also the degree of impact each contribution had on the development of Canada.
Introduction to coats of arms
Display examples of coats of arms—personal, provincial, territorial and national. The personal coat of arms of the Governor General, the Honourable Michaëlle Jean, and Canada's coat of arms are excellent examples (see References). Provide a brief history of the origins of heraldry; e.g., original function was quick recognition on the battlefield. Point out the specific rules, e.g., rules of tinctures, divisions, and the purpose of the various components; e.g., motto, supporters, helm, crest, shield, wreath. Online encyclopedias, such as Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia, offer overviews of heraldry and annotated coats of arms.
Invite students to compare various coats of arms, identify their components and speculate on the significance of each symbol. Discuss why the symbols have been chosen.
Ask students to think of a symbol for themselves.
Create coat of arms
Invite students, individually or in teams, to create a coat of arms representing the most significant contributions of their assigned group to Canada's heritage.
Discuss criteria for an effective coat of arms:
- significant symbols—represent the group's most important contributions, achievements or challenges
- suitable motto—reflects the spirit or motivation of the group
- visually appealing—grabs viewers' attention and is colourful
- historically accurate—follows the rules of heraldry.
Present and display coats of arms
Invite students to present and explain their coat of arms to the class. Display the finished products.