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Canada's Immigration Policies

Assess the overall success of immigration policies in 19th century Canada, based on their impact on various groups.

Outcomes References Related Resources

Suggested Activities

In this challenge, students learn about the competing interests and resulting challenges that surrounded 19th century immigration policies in Canada by evaluating the overall success of three sets of policies, based on their impact on various groups.

Activity 1
To set the context for the challenge, invite students to examine immigration statistics to determine trends and formulate questions about immigration patterns. You may want to refer to the charts in the Background Information section of the page. The following resources from the Statistics Canada website are useful:

  • Population and growth components (1851 – 2001 Censuses). Enter the title as a search term to access the table, a student worksheet, and learning resources.
  • Historical Statistics of Canada 11-516-XIE (catalogue number). Enter the title as a search term to access over 1000 statistical tables on the social, economic and institutional conditions of Canada, including immigration statistics, from 1867 to the mid-1970s.

In addition, you may want students to view the McCord Museum's online visual tour of the settling of Western Canada (see References).

Activity 2
Supply information or ask groups of students to research three 19th century Canadian immigration policies: Sir John A. MacDonald's National Policy, Clifford Sifton's Immigration Policy and practices by religious communities and missionaries (see References). Ask students to collect general information about their assigned policy. You might want to use one of the charts and strategies in Reporter's Log (Support Material) to organize student research around 5W questions like the example below:

  • What were the main goals of the policy/practice?
  • Who was the policy/practice developed for?
  • When was the policy/practice introduced?
  • Where was the policy/practice created/introduced?
  • Why was the policy/practice developed?
  • How did the policy/practice impact immigrants?

Ask students to gather additional, specific information about the various effects of each policy on key groups, using the following questions to guide them:

  • Who may have been affected positively and negatively by the policies and practices?
  • What was the nature of these effects; e.g., political, economic, demographic, social?

Consider adapting one of the charts found in Positive and Negative Factors (Support Material) to structure and assess this comparison.

Activity 3
Organize students into groups to focus on one of the policies. Assign each student in the group a different perspective–one of the founding nations (i.e., Francophone, English, Aboriginal) or a cultural group (e.g., Irish, Icelandic, Eastern European). Establish criteria for a successful immigration policy, such as supports Canada's political, social and economic needs or balances diversity with cultural integrity. Ask students to individually assess the success of the policy, based on their assigned perspective, and then to collectively assess the overall success of the policy. Consider adapting one of the charts and strategies in Writing a Report Card (Support Material) to structure and assess this overall assessment. Ask each group to discuss its conclusions with the rest of the class.Extension

Ask students to study more recent patterns in immigration in their community, province or country and identify the current political, economic, demographic and social challenges and opportunities. Statistics Canada is an excellent source of information (see References). Encourage the students to bring in a variety of online newsletters, government pamphlets, magazine articles, television documentaries and editorials on the topic of immigration. Invite students to analyze the media sources for bias. You may find it helpful to select one article and work through the following questions:

  • What statistics are included? What information is missing?
  • Why might the writer not include certain statistics or information?
  • From which perspective is the piece written?
  • Who is the intended audience?
  • Does the source focus on one immigrant group or immigration in general? Are some immigrant group(s) missing, discounted or marginalized?
  • Does the source tell the whole story?

Divide the class into small groups. Ask each group to analyze an additional source and share their findings with the class. Discuss the extent to which the issue of immigration is fairly portrayed in the media; e.g., very fair, quite fair, somewhat biased, very biased.

Last updated: July 1, 2014 | (Revision History)
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