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Our Country, Our Parliament

Learn About Parliament

Graphic for Preview and Introduction

Preview and Introduction

Downloads:
  • Booklet: Preview and Introduction Download the PDF
  • Combined Preview and Introduction activity handouts: Preview and Introduction Download the PDF
  • Handout: Student Survey Download the PDF
  • Handout: Canadian Democracy Download the PDF
  • Handout: Youth Narrators Download the PDF
  • Activity 1: Symbols of Canada and Student Survey
    Our Country, Our Parliament

    Objectives

  • To determine student knowledge of Canadian parliamentary processes.
  • To increase students’ knowledge and vocabulary of symbols of Canada.
  • To set the tone for the unit (fun, informal and language-rich).
  • To encourage students to think about the communities they are a part of and to interact with each other.
  • Instruction Levels

  • Grades 5–8
  • English as a second language students in grades 9 or higher
  • Materials

  • Our Country, Our Parliament, particularly the cover
  • Handout: Student Survey Download the PDF
  • Large sheet of paper or poster board
  • Teacher Notes
    Part One:
    Begin a class discussion by asking students to think about the communities of which they are a part. Encourage students to think of communities on a variety of scales. For example, students might consider their family, school, extracurricular groups, cultural or ethnic groups, city or town and Canada as different communities to which they belong. Create a mind map of student ideas on the board.

    Continue the class discussion by asking students to think of the various symbols that are used to represent communities. Note these ideas on the mind map and ask students why they think these symbols are used.

    Begin to narrow the focus to symbols that are used to represent Canada. Have students look at the cover of Our Country, Our Parliament for ideas. Ask students what they see to find out whether any student recognizes that the symbols are in the form of the Parliament Buildings. Explain to students that they are beginning a unit of study about Parliament using Our Country, Our Parliament. Discuss some of the individual symbols students recognize on the cover of the booklet, prompting them to explain the significance of the symbol and why they think it represents Canada. Assist with vocabulary, as needed.

    Explain to students that art is only one way of showcasing the symbols of Canada: music, writing and poetry are other examples. Tell students that they will be working in small groups (either selected by the teacher or the students themselves) to write a song or poem about the symbols of Canada. Each group must incorporate at least three symbols into their song or poem, which they will perform or read for the class. If students are struggling for ideas, encourage them to think of songs or poems that they already know and to modify the words.

    Once students have had sufficient time to prepare their song or poem, have them present them to the class. Encourage other students to listen closely and to try to identify the various symbols each group uses, and ask questions of both the presenters and audience after each presentation.

    Part Two: Distribute the Student Survey handout to the class. Have students complete the first two columns of the chart and then the rest of the survey. Once students have finished, collect the survey responses and use the classroom board (or a large piece of paper or poster board) to record student responses in a non-identifying way. Use samples from the surveys when appropriate. Discuss the survey, providing the correct answers, when needed. Post your findings in the classroom. Refer back to the findings when you’ve finished your parliamentary unit, and have students complete the chart to show what they have learned.

    Extend This Activity
    Students, either in groups or individually, create posters showing the three levels of government (federal, provincial and territorial, and municipal) or the three branches of government (executive, legislative and judicial).

    Survey Answer Key
    The federal government controls the Mint, the Armed Forces, railroads, the banking system, airports and federal prisons. Provincial and territorial governments are responsible for schools, hospitals, selling alcohol, most highways, provincial police forces and provincial prisons. Municipal governments are responsible for roads, city police, and recycling and recreation programs. Government involvement overlaps in many areas.

    An act of Parliament decides the age you can vote (federally) and who is allowed to become a citizen, and passes laws governing free speech. Provincial legislatures decide at what age you may vote provincially, drive and drink alcohol. Because of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, individuals may decide where they live and what religion (if any) they’d like to follow.

    Activity 2: A Canadian Democracy
    Canadian Coat of Arms

    Objectives

  • To put Canada into the world context, particularly noting similarities and differences between Canada and students’ countries of origin (when applicable).
  • Instruction Levels

  • Grades 5–8
  • English as a second language students in grades 9 or higher
  • Materials

  • Our Country, Our Parliament, pages 8–13 (Section 1: Canada: The Road to Democracy) and pages 44–49 (Glossary)
  • Handout: Canadian Democracy Download the PDF
  • Computer access
  • Teacher Notes
    Ask your students to think about Canada and whether the following statements are true or false:

  • Canada is a democracy. TRUE
  • Queen Elizabeth II is Canada’s queen. TRUE
  • Canada is ruled by a dictator. FALSE
  • Women may not vote in Canada. FALSE
  • Children are allowed to vote in Canada. FALSE
  • You may be arrested without cause in Canada. FALSE
  • You may openly disagree with a government policy in Canada. TRUE
  • The Canadian Parliament makes laws that affect all Canadians. TRUE
  • Distribute the Canadian Democracy handout. Encourage students to refer to the Glossary at the end of Our Country, Our Parliament to complete the definitions. This glossary is reproduced here for ease of use.

    Discuss the fact that Canada has a written set of rules called the Constitution. The various components of the Constitution, including the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, protect all Canadians equally. Refer to pages 11–12 of Our Country, Our Parliament for new vocabulary and to remind students of their rights and freedoms.

    If you have a map of the world handy, use it to orient students to world geography. Have students choose a country to investigate, either through the Internet or with their family. Encourage your students to interview their family members to obtain more information. You can either let students select a country or assign one (which may be appropriate for younger students). Students can complete this task in the class or as homework. Use the handout to discuss what the students have found out about Canada, and make a list on the board comparing Canada and the countries the students researched. Fill in on the board students’ responses to the handout questions and discuss.

    Activity 3: Meet the New Kids

    Youth Narrators
    Objectives

  • To introduce students to the youth narrators in Our Country, Our Parliament.
  • To encourage language acquisition through visual stimulus.
  • To work on question-building skills.
  • To introduce basic parliamentary vocabulary.
  • Instruction Levels

  • Grades 5–6
  • English as a second language students in grades 9 or higher
  • Materials

  • Our Country, Our Parliament, page 7 (How to Use Our Country, Our Parliament) and page 50 (Getting to Know Your Youth Narrators)
  • Handout: Youth Narrators Download the PDF
  • Web Links

  • House of Commons Page Program
  • Parliamentary Guide Program
  • Senate Page Program
  • Teacher Notes
    Have students read all the text on page 7 of Our Country, Our Parliament. Ensure that students are familiar with the structure of the booklet and its various components. Distribute the Youth Narrators handout. Tell students to select one youth narrator and fill out Part One of the handout. Check out the links before doing the activity to familiarize yourself with the programs and direct students to the websites if they have any specific questions.

    Pair students up and have them fill out Part Two. Using the handouts, have students present their partner to the rest of the class.

    Extend This Activity
    Pair up students with a different partner to create stories about the various youth narrators. Ask students which partner likes to talk and which partner likes to write. Assign roles accordingly. The partner who likes to talk can then dictate a story about the narrator to the partner who likes to write. The partner who likes to write can write down the story, using his or her partner’s vocabulary and grammar. Partners can then edit and discuss their story to see whether they agree or disagree about what they wrote.

    Information for Teachers
    The House of Commons Page Program recruits 40 bilingual students each year from high schools and CEGEPs (colleges in Quebec) across the country to work as pages in the House of Commons. Applicants must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents. Uniformed pages work on a part-time basis during their first year of study at one of the universities in the National Capital Region. Pages collect and distribute official documents, link Members to their Hill offices, serve House Officials in various capacities, and act as messengers.

    The Parliamentary Guide Program hires bilingual university students who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents to provide tours of Parliament. During the summer, students from across Canada work full time, while students at universities in the National Capital Region work part time during the fall and winter. Uniformed guides greet and welcome visitors to Parliament, interpret the Parliament Buildings and Canadian politics, and assist and serve parliamentarians, parliamentary staff and the general public.

    The Senate Page Program comprises a 15-member team of bilingual university students who work part time for the Senate. Uniformed pages must be Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and be studying for their first undergraduate degree at a university in the National Capital Region. Senate pages are responsible for a wide variety of activities associated with the legislative process, including distributing files, aiding Senators, and assisting with the proceedings of the Senate and its committees.

    © Library of Parliament | Revised: 2009-09