The Constitution Express highlights new Elections Canada resources

March 7, 2019
By Rachel Collishaw, Elections Canada

The Constitution Express is part of Elections Canada’s new suite of learning resources designed for secondary school students.

Each lesson is designed to fit in one class period, and to spark questions and engagement. Inquiry learning, historical thinking and conversations about elections and democracy are the beating heart of these free activities.

The Constitution Express is discussed in one of two historical case studies that comes with the learning resource Civic Action: Then and Now. Students watch a short video entitled Aboriginal and Treaty Rights in Canada’s Constitution which is an overview of the actions taken by First Nations, Métis, and Inuit leaders and groups from 1978 to 1982 during the constitution talks.

George Manuel and the Union of BC Indian Chiefs rented two trains that brought approximately 1,000 First Nations people from Vancouver to Ottawa to lobby parliamentarians, participate in demonstrations and other actions that resulted in the inclusion of Section 35 (Aboriginal and Treaty Rights) in the Constitution Act, 1982.

In the activity, students examine a variety of civic actions taken by individuals and groups, and they sort these actions into different categories in the model of civic action provided.

Based on the work of Alan Sears, the model has four sections: participating as an individual, working together as a group, building public support and working through the political system. While the teacher’s guide provides suggested placements, the conversation that students have is the most important part of the activity. Suggested discussion questions and an exit card are provided to expand student thinking and provide opportunities for feedback. You can also download everything from the website at any time. If you do use them in your classroom, we want to know about it! Connect with us on Twitter (@democracyCA) or Facebook (Elections and Democracy) to share what is happening in your classroom, and to see what teachers and students across Canada are doing too!