In this challenge, which may serve as a culminating task for the inquiry, students reflect on the factors that shaped Canadian Confederation, from the early 1700s to 1867, by rating the success of the Confederation recipe, based upon an understanding of the perspective of different groups, and then representing their group's views of Confederation in a protest song or celebratory anthem.
Suggest that, during the period from the early 1700s to 1867, many people and circumstances contributed to an increasingly unified political entity that eventually became the Confederation of Canada. Lead the class in considering the ingredients necessary for a successful Canadian Confederation from the perspective of a variety of groups. The list of key requirements should include but not be limited to:
- identity; i.e., sense of a unique culture
- cooperation; i.e., ability to co-exist and work together
- sovereignty; i.e., control over one's affairs
- fairness; i.e., consideration for the unique needs of each group.
From this discussion, establish criteria for a successful Confederation recipe, such as: balances the interests of all groups, results in improved economic, social and political well-being for all citizens and protects cultural identity.
Organize the class into three groups, representing Canadien, English and Aboriginal peoples. Ask each group to rate the success of the dish of Confederation, based on its assigned perspective and the established criteria. Students should use a five-star scale, from totally unpalatable to extremely pleasing, and provide evidence for each rating. Consider adapting one of the charts in Rating Options (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Invite the class to debate or discuss an overall rating of the Confederation recipe, taking into account the perspectives of the various groups. After the discussion, challenge groups to consider what ingredients would be needed to improve the flavour of the Confederation recipe, from the perspective of their group. For example, Aboriginal or Francophone groups might insist on representatives at the Confederation table to ensure their voices are heard.
Invite students to compose a song about the dish of Canadian Confederation, based on an understanding of their group's perspective. Indicate that the song will either be an anthem praising the new country or a song of protest rallying against unacceptable terms. Suggest students work in groups of two or three. As they create their lyrics, encourage them to move from a general focus on British/Canadien/Aboriginal peoples to a more specific focus on a particular group in a particular region, such as the Iroquois in Québec.
Discuss the criteria for an effective anthem/protest song; e.g., important ideas and perspectives are represented, words are historically accurate, lyrics match the music, song is revealing or engaging.
Draw students' attention to techniques that songwriters might use to increase the authority and authenticity of their message, including vivid images, catchy refrains, bold music and realistic effects. Ask students to notice possible techniques as they listen to or read lyrics to a few anthems and historical and contemporary protest songs. One example is available in Canada Revisited (see references). Consider adapting the chart in Looking for Techniques (Support Material) to structure this part of the activity. Listening to examples also provides possible tunes for students to adapt. Alternatively, suggest that students fit their lyrics to an appropriate contemporary tune.
Invite students to share their song with the class as part of a Confederation celebration or protest.