Canadian History in the Twentieth Century

Activity 3: Aboriginal Life 1945-1963

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Activity 3: Aboriginal Life 1945-1963

Time: 120 minutes


Students compare the lifestyles of natives and non-natives using an organizer in this activity. The students appreciate the way that Canada’s Aboriginals were treated in the 1950s. The sanctity of human dignity is emphasized in this activity. Students are also reminded that all Canadians have a right to participate in decisions that affect their lives.

Strand(s) and Expectations

Ontario Catholic School Graduate Expectations: CGE1d, 1h, 2b, 2d, 3d, 4a, 4f, 5a, 5e, 7e, 7f.

Strand(s): Change and Continuity; Methods of Historical Inquiry

Overall Expectations: CCV.01, MIV.01, MIV.02.

Specific Expectations

CC1.05 - assess the impact of demographic and social changes on Aboriginal communities (e.g., relocation, urbanization, education, and pressures to assimilate);

MI1.01 - use terms related to historical organization and inquiry correctly (e.g., chronology, cause-and-effect, short- and long-term consequences, interpretation);

MI1.02 - use who, what, where, when, why, and how questions effectively when researching historical topics and issues;

MI2.02 - use technology (e.g., computer databases, Internet) effectively when researching Canadian history topics;

MI2.03 - record and organize information effectively using notes, lists, concept webs, timelines, organizers, charts, maps, graphs, and mind maps;

MI3.01 - identify different viewpoints and explicit biases when evaluating information for a research report or participating in a discussion;

MI3.04 - demonstrate an ability to draw conclusions based on adequate and relevant supporting evidence.

Planning Notes

  • Obtain pictures of the northern and eastern coast communities where natives lived during the 1950s.

  • Arrange access to the Internet.

  • Obtain maps of Canada’s north, Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland.

Prior Knowledge Required

  • Students should have an understanding of the role that Aboriginal peoples have played in the history of North America. Through the Grade 9 Geography program, students gained an appreciation of Aboriginal culture.

  • Students need to understand concepts such as relocation, urbanization, and assimilation.

Teaching/Learning Strategies

1. Students use suggested resources to complete the organizer. See Appendix 3.3.4. The print resource Aboriginal Peoples: Building for the Future is particularly useful for this activity. Prior to completing the organizer, the teacher could begin the lesson by discussing with students their perceptions of the contributions made by Aboriginals to Canadian society. The completed organizer helps to demonstrate the differences between the lifestyles of the native population and the non-native population in Canada after World War II. The organizer also directs students to draw conclusions concerning the treatment of native Canadians. Students also recognize that the relocated native populations did not make any of the decisions that so greatly affected their lives.

2. The teacher demonstrates how to complete one row of the cells in the organizer so students are assured of how to complete this activity. The teacher could read some of the sources with students to help them find required information. Once the organizer has been completed, a teacher-led discussion can be held with the students about their findings.

3. This activity can be followed-up with a guest speaker from a native organization found on the Aboriginal Links web page. The teacher should ask the speaker to address students about the extent of the progress that native people in Canada have made since the 1950s.

Assessment/Evaluation Techniques

  • The teacher can make informal observations of student progress. Observations of learning skills through the completion of homework are one example of an informal observation.


  • For this activity, the teacher demonstrates how to complete part of the organizer for students who require assistance. Further teacher assistance might be required in completing the organizer.

  • Some students may need more than the average time to complete the organizer.

  • Students with writing difficulties may benefit from teacher assistance in organizing information.



Reed, Kevin. Aboriginal Peoples: Building for the Future. Don Mills: Oxford University Press, 1999.

Web Sites

Aboriginal Links: Canada & The US

Office for Social Justice, Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis

Major Themes from Catholic Social Teaching


Appendix 3.3.4 – Organizer: Comparing Native and Non-native Lifestyles, circa 1950

Appendix 3.3.4

Comparing Native and Non-native Lifestyles, circa 1950




Population Size

Population concentrations

Types of dwellings/condition of homes

Access to and quality of health care

Access to and quality of education

Employment opportunities

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