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In this project, students will review the major factors, significant events and key individuals involved in the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. They will organize and participate in a "Confederation Review Conference" in order to examine how Canada can best serve regional interests and group perspectives in the 21st century. Parts of this project may be useful to educators when used independently.
Library and Archives Canada's Confederation for Kids website is aimed at giving young students a good basic knowledge of how Confederation came about. The website has been written and structured for children, and is designed to be easy to use in either the classroom or at home. Also useful is the Canadian Confederation website [URL: www.collectionscanada.gc.ca/confederation/]
Social Studies (History) and Language Arts, Ages 11+
Social Studies Outcomes for this project (History): In completing this project, students will:
Language Arts Outcomes for this project:
O/V (Oral and Visual Communication):
These Language Arts Outcomes correspond to:
The students will review the major factors, significant events and key individuals involved in the creation of the Dominion of Canada in 1867. They will organize and participate in a "Confederation Review Conference" in order to examine how Canada can best serve regional interests and group perspectives in the 21st century.
Computers with access to the Internet
Video camera, VCR, and television monitor
Handout 1: How Did Canada Start?
Handout 2: Reasons
Handout 3: Assets and Needs
Handout 4: Values
Handout 5: Writing Speeches
Handout 6: Speeches Review
Handout 7: Negotiation
Handout 8: The Constitution
Handout 9: What Have We Learned?
Library and Archives Canada's Confederation for Kids website
(for ages 9 to 13)
Library and Archives Canada's Canadian Confederation website
(for ages 12 and up)
Library and Archives Canada's Constitutional Evolution website
Other useful websites on Confederation:
Early Canadiana Online: Canada in the Making
The Canadian Encyclopedia Online (Historica)
Students will need to be familiar with common Web navigation symbols, tools and terminology (e.g.: search, back, home page, etc.).
NOTE: Parts of this project can be separated and used independently. For example:
Enhancing Students' Interest
Discuss/create a class constitution/contract for students and the educator. Include: rules, rights and responsibilities. When finished, review the process.
Large-Group Work (Whole Class)
The teacher reads an imaginary headline from a fictional newspaper front page:
Students are invited to discuss this "headline":
Small-Group Work (3 to 6 Students)
Task 1: When did Canada come into being?
This final question (How did Canada "start" in the first place?) can lead to an invitation by the teacher for the students to visit Library and Archives Canada's Confederation for Kids website.
The class can be divided into small research teams who visit the website in order to find answers to the following questions. Following this research, each team must report its findings (orally) to the whole class. See Handout 1 for the tasks for each group.
With the presentation of oral reports from each of the small research teams, the students achieve an awareness of the process (Who? What? Where? When? Why?) that led to the birth of Canada.
The teacher revisits the fictional headline:
The class is in charge of the Canada "starting all over" process. In order to ensure that it is completed fairly and efficiently, the class will organize and stage a Confederation Review Conference. The first task is to establish WHO will have a voice (participate) at this conference. Examples:
Students are invited to select ONE of the above groups/regions which they wish to help represent. The resulting small groups of representatives will have as their responsibility the preparation for, attendance at, and participation in the Confederation Review Conference on behalf of their selected group/region.
Example: 3 students represent Nova Scotia; 2 students represent Nunavut; 2 students represent women's rights, 3 students represent Native peoples from various regions, etc.
Task 2: Reasons. Students brainstorm and research a list of as many reasons as possible why their group/region would, or would not, want to be a part of a Canada for the 21st century. (See Handout 2.)
Task 3: Assets and Needs. Next, students should research and brainstorm assets and needs of their group/region. (See Handout 3.)
Task 4: Values. After this (or at the same time), they should create a chart of values that they hope to see their new country represent. (See Handout 4.)
What rights do they consider important enough to include in the new constitution?
For government, do they wish it to be:
Students should research these terms to understand them better.
Groups must arrive at agreed-upon decisions regarding the issues in Preparatory Task #4, and be prepared to present these decisions during speeches at the Confederation Review Conference.
Task 5: Writing Speeches. Groups select a main speaker (or two) to be a "Father/Mother of Confederation" for that group. As a group, they should write a short speech to be made to the others. (See Handout 5.)
The text of the speech represents the findings resulting from each group/region's work during Preparatory Tasks 1, 2 and 3. The speech, therefore, should include:
The Confederation Review Conference
Task 6: Speeches. All members from each of the group/region teams attend the Confederation Review Conference (the conference might be staged in a special area of the school -- e.g. on stage in the gymnasium).
The representative speakers are introduced. Each speaker delivers his/her group/region's message. Handout 6 is distributed to facilitate the audience's engagement and to allow them to compare the groups' positions on various issues. The speeches could be video recorded.
Following the Confederation Review Conference speeches, a copy of the video recording could be sent to an appropriate exterior audience (a member of Parliament?) for the purpose of requesting expert feedback/response regarding the content of the texts.
At the end of the speeches, discuss the following:
Optional, for students ages 15 and up:
Task 7: Charter of Rights The Charter of Rights was a contentious issue when it was introduced. Discuss:
Record each group's most important rights, and use these as a template for a charter of rights. Students could write these rights out using the language of the Canadian Constitution, or another constitution.
Task 8: The Constitution. Discuss, as a whole class, the nature the new government should take (democracy, republic, etc.).
Students ages 16+ could write a position paper on the advantages and disadvantages of strong central government versus strong regional governments in a country the size of Canada.