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This toolkit creation has been supported by the Government of Canada and Alberta Human Rights
Education and Multiculturalism Fund.

John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights

Guided by a volunteer Board of Directors, the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights
works to build communities of respect and reciprocity through engagement and learning in human
rights. The John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human Rights envisions a world that manifests
a culture of peace and human rights in which the dignity of every person is respected, valued and
The Centre works to advance a culture of peace and human rights through educational programs and
activities, community collaboration and relationship building guided by the principles of the Universal
Declaration of Human Rights, and based on the understanding that considering the world through a
human rights lens is key to empowering citizens to respond to the ills in our society and our world.
Listing of John Humphrey Centre Board of Directors 2014/2015

Joan Cowling, President

Lewis Cardinal, Vice President
Robert Gardner, Treasurer
Norm McLeod, Secretary
Gurcharan Bhatia

Dominique Clement
Claire Edwards
Salma Lakhani
Raffath Sayeed
Roxanne Ulanicki

Portions of this toolkit have been adapted from the One Nations, Many Beliefs:Talking about Religion in a Diverse Democracy
pilot version toolkit developed by Everyday Democracy.


4 Introduction
Why should we talk about Canadian
heritage and identity?
Democratic Dialogue for Change
How this Guide works
Session-by-Session Review
The Facilitators Role
Working on Common Cross-Cultural
Communication Challenges

17 Session 3: What is the Nature of the

Challenges Were Facing?
Advance Preparation
Getting Started
What is the nature of the challenges we
Some cases to consider
Wrap Up

9 Session 1: Making Connections

Advance Preparation
Establishing Guidelines
Icebreaker Activity: Perceptions
Understanding Cultural Communities
Looking at our connections with each
other and to this issue
Wrap Up
For Next Time:
Understanding Treaties

20 Session 4: How are We Doing?

Advance Preparation
Making the Grade
Moving to Action
Wrap Up

14 Session 2: Exploring our Values

Advance Preparation
Where Do You Stand?
Our Canada: Our Rights
Wrap Up

25 Session 5: How Can We Make Progress?

Advance Preparation
Reviewing Action Ideas
Listing our Community Strengths
Connecting Action Ideas with Community
Choosing Ideas for the Action Forum
Wrap Up
29 Additional Activities
42 Facilitation Tips
48 Respecting our Differences and Working


Why should we talk about Canadian heritage

and identity?

founding of a nation based on a limited perspective

of what it meant to be part of Kanata.

As Canadians, we may carry the same status as

citizens, but do not carry the same identities; the
same history; the same heritage; or, the same
privileges. Those that grow up on First Nations
Reserves have unique experiences in the shaping
of their Canadian identity as compared to a first
generation immigrant or rural farmer from a
pioneer background.

Who was at the Charlottetown and Quebec

Conferences is important for us to be considering
as Canadians today. Male delegates from New
Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island,
Canada and Newfoundland came together to
define the a new nation. It was not a Conference
that represented our First Peoples, the unique
settlement in the Western Regions of Canada of
people from Asia, nor the Black populations who
migrated up in the late 1700s and early 1800s.
It was from the establishment of the BNA that
Canada would become a nation that, while built on
pillars of freedom, democracy and equality, would
struggle with the enfranchisement of all who lived
in the great country.

These differing experiences, rooted in Canadas

complex colonial history, contribute to a fragmented
image of our nation which often serves to divide
rather than unite us. These divisions reinforce
stereotypes and misconceptions, forcing diverse
communities to exist in silos, with often little
interaction or collaboration between groups. The
challenges this poses to the creation of a shared
national identity and pride is that not all the stories
are told or included in our narrative as a nation.
The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences
of 1864 were pivotal in the establishment of the
Federation of Canada but also posed challenges
for the future of a multicultural nation; a nation
being settled by newcomers from Europe, Asia
and the Middle East. Within two months, a range
of delegates at these Conferences drew up 72
resolutions which would be the basis of the British
North America Act (BNA) of 1867. This Act is a
milestone in history for Canadians as it served to
define who was Canadian, what privileges existed
for citizens, and how we would govern ourselves.
Today, we still struggle with the remnants of the

The womens suffrage movement which succeeded

in 1918 to give women the right to vote was
one of Canadas first steps to including the voice
of others into our definition of Canada. Led by
a movement of women in Western Canada, this
important milestone would work to eliminate the
gender gaps in the country, however it would not
apply equally to all races or abilities.
The This is Our Canada: One Nation, Many Faces
project is an effort to engage young people in a
discussion of what it means to be Canadian and
to share our diverse experiences and histories. It
comes out of a deep concern that the strength
of our values is only as strong as the relationships
between us Canadians. In a global climate of fear,
Canadians are not immune to the impacts of


xenophobia and recent events in 2014 of youth

from Calgary fighting Jihad overseas, the deaths
of Somali youth in the streets of Edmonton, to
attacks on Parliament, speak to the vigilance
and commitment we must place on building
bridges between communities and fostering true
engagement of all voices and perspectives.
As we move towards the 150th anniversary of
Canada, it is incredibly important to reflect on
the diversity of communities which make up our
country, encouraging future generations to develop
a common Canadian identity rooted in our rich
history and heritage. In doing so, we can overcome
the harms of the past and continue Canada on its
path as a nation based on values of peace, freedom,
democracy and dignity.

America. The 23 delegates spent the next days

focused on such weighty matters as government
structure, division of power, and financial relations.
The evenings were filled with banquets and balls,
which provided the opportunity to discuss business
in a more relaxed and friendly setting. At the end
of the Charlottetown Conference, representatives
had agreed that union should be pursued and
decided to reconvene in a few weeks. 2
The Qubec Conference
The Charlottetown Conference

Source: Library




Public Domain

Source: George P. Roberts / Library and Archives Canada /

Source: Parks Canada, National Archives Footnote1

The Charlottetown Conference, held from

September 1 to 9, 1864, was originally intended
as a regional meeting for Prince Edward Island,
Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick representatives
to discuss a Maritime union. However, Canadas
representatives requested to be included and on
the first day in Charlottetown convinced the others
to consider a confederation of all British North

The Qubec Conference was held between

October 10 and 27, 1864, in Qubec City. This
second conference was attended by a total of
33 delegates from New Brunswick, Nova Scotia,
Prince Edward Island, Canada and Newfoundland.
At the close of the conference, the resolutions were
presented to each of the provinces and heated
debates took place in many towns and cities. In the
end, the only provinces left in the process were
Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Canada.
The representatives continued discussions that
had begun a month earlier in Charlottetown.
They developed a series of resolutions known as
the 72 Resolutions (or the Qubec Resolutions)


which set out the constitutional framework for

Confederation. The Resolutions proposed a
federal system of government that would maintain
ties to the British monarchy, with an appointed
upper chamber (Senate) and an elected lower
chamber (House of Commons). The resolutions
were finalized during the London Conference that
opened in December 1866, and became the British
North America Act signed into law by Queen
Democratic Dialogue for Change
In a democracy, it is essential for every persons
voice to be respected and heard. It is the only way
our country and our communities can resolve
complex issues while respecting and honoring
our freedoms and our differences. But this kind of
democratic conversation doesnt just happen by
chance - it has to be created.
Growing numbers of people around the country
are creating opportunities for people to come
together across their differences, to express
themselves, to hear each other, to develop trust,
and to find some areas of common ground. Where
this happens, people do not come to full agreement,
however, they begin to build relationships that serve
as a foundation for effective problem solving and
healthy community life. They find creative ways to
work together on complex public issues, work with
their elected officials, and work with community
institutions. They are making a difference in their
communities, by listening to each other and creating
changes based on their new understandings of the
issue and of each other.
The John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human
Rights has adapted this process from Everyday
Democracy to help facilitate open and respectful
conversations in our communities. These Dialogue
to Change sessions build on one another so that
participants will:

look at what they have in common with people

of different backgrounds;
learn about the experiences of people of
different ethno-cultural, religious and social
groups in the community;
create a vision of a welcoming and respectful
society that appreciates its diversity;
talk about the tensions that surround Canadas
history, heritage and identity;
consider different ideas about how to make
decisions that honor diversity and that benefit
the whole community; and
consider what changes they may want to make
-- as individuals, with others, in community
institutions, and in public decisions.
How this Guide works
This guide is designed to strengthen relationships
and understanding across diverse backgrounds
and experiences as a foundation for talking about
intergroup tensions and understanding the unique
experiences, histories, heritages and identities of all
It ultimately works to strengthen community
understanding and acceptance while creating
spaces for democratic action on our human rights
obligations and fundamental freedoms.
This facilitation guide will help participants:
exchange personal stories and find what they
have in common;
learn about the experiences of different
religious, ethno-cultural and social perspectives
in their community;
learn about key moments in Canadian history
including the Quebec and Charlottetown
Conferences as well as womens suffrage;
explore the various histories, heritages and
identities of a number of Canadas diverse


talk about values and what it means to live in an

ethno-culturally and religiously diverse society
and community; and,
collaborate on creating a renewed Canadian
identity that incorporates a variety of histories,
identities and experiences.

The goal of Session 3 is to help participants explore

the nature and scope of the issues. The group will
consider various viewpoints on what it means to
be Canadian and will explore the histories and
challenges of specific ethno-cultural, religious and
social groups in Canada.

In each session, you will find:

In Session 4, participants start to explore ways

to strengthen community through a shared vision
for change. They work from a community report
card that will help them identify specific areas
where they might want to make some changes.
They will also engage in a brainstorm of ways to
address areas of concern.

a statement of the sessions goals;

facilitator tips, set-up suggestions, and
instructions for activities;
a list of requirements you will want to prepare
ahead of each session;
suggested discussion questions;
tips on wrapping up each session; and,
recommendations for homework or activities
the participants can do for the next session.
Session-by-Session Review
As facilitators, you will want to have a solid
understanding of each of the sessions goals, how
they fit together and build upon one another, and
how they fit into the overall design of the dialogue.
Each group will be unique and thus may require
adaptations to meet the specific needs.
The goal of Session 1 is to help participants
build trusting relationships that will serve as the
foundation for their subsequent discussions.
Participants do not talk about challenges or action.
Instead they exchange personal stories, establish
guidelines for talking and working together, and get
to know each other.

In Session 2, participants will develop an

understanding of the complexity of this subject.
This session becomes increasingly provocative
as participants are asked to take a stand on
specific issues. Toward the end of Session 2, they
will examine how their values connect to a wider
universal human rights framework, developing an
understanding that, although we may hold many
differences, there are many areas where we share
similar views.

By the end of Session 5, your group should have

an action plan that includes specific steps they can
take to address the areas they identified in Session
4. Participants will prioritize ideas for action, identify
next steps for the group, and discuss their personal
commitments. They will be provided with a list of
ideas to inspire their action planning, including
suggestions such as potluck dinner dialogues, smart
phone digital stories, social media campaigns etc.
The Facilitators Role
Facilitators are not experts on the topic being
discussed, but facilitators need to be prepared to
guide the discussion. This means
understanding the goals of the dialogue and of
each session.
being familiar with the discussion guide.
working with a co-facilitator.
planning each session ahead, bringing the right
supplies, and knowing what participants may
need to do in between sessions.
setting the tone for the dialogue.
encouraging everyone to participate.
managing conflict.
staying impartial, by making sure that everyone
gets a fair hearing.


Working on Common Cross-Cultural

Communication Challenges2
We all have an internal list of those we still dont
understand, let alone appreciate. We all have biases,
even prejudices, toward specific groups. In our
workshops we ask people to gather in pairs and think
about their hopes and fears in relating to people of a
group different from their own. Fears usually include
being judged, miscommunication, and patronizing
or hurting others unintentionally; hopes are usually
the possibility of dialogue, learning something new,
developing friendships, and understanding different
points of view. After doing this activity hundreds of
times, Im always amazed how similar the lists are. At
any moment that were dealing with people different
from ourselves, the likelihood is that they carry a
similar list of hopes and fears in their back pocket.
From Waging Peace in Schools, by Linda Lantieri and Janet
Patti, Beacon Press, 1996.

Culture is a complex concept, with many different

definitions. But, simply put, culture refers to a
group or community with which we share common
experiences that shape the way we understand
the world. It includes groups that we are born
into, such as gender, race, or national origin. It also
includes groups we join or become part of. For
example, we can acquire a new culture by moving
to a new region, by a change in our economic
status, or by becoming disabled. When we think
of culture this broadly, we realize we all belong to
many cultures at once.
Our histories are a critical piece of our cultures.
Historical experiences - whether of five years ago
or of ten generations back - shape who we are.
Knowledge of our history can help us understand
ourselves and one another better. Exploring the
ways in which various groups within our society
have related to each other is key to opening
channels for cross-cultural communications.

We all communicate with others all the time - in our

homes, in our workplaces, in the groups we belong
to, and in the community. No matter how well we
think we understand each other, communication is
hard. Just think, for example, how often we hear
things like, He doesnt get it, or She didnt really
hear what I meant to say.
Culture is often at the root of communication
challenges. Our culture influences how we
approach problems, and how we participate in
groups and in communities. When we participate
in groups, we are often surprised at how differently
people approach their work together.

This section is adapted from Everyday Democracys Towards

a More Perfect Union in an Age of Diversity: A Guide for Building
Stronger Communities through Public Dialogue: http://www.


to help people get to know each other
to establish some guidelines for their discussion
talk about how they are connected to the
Advance Preparation
1. Meet with your co-facilitator ahead of time to
2. Create two parking lots on flip chart paper.
Label one, Action Idea Parking Lot. Participants
may come up with ideas how to address the
problems they identify early on. These wont be
discussed until Session 4, but you want to make
sure you preserve good ideas.
3. Label the second parking lot, Terms Parking
Lot. Sometimes, language can be confusing or
lead to misunderstanding. Keep a running list of
terms that come up during the dialogue - terms
that the group may want to define or explore
in more detail (e.g., conservative, indigenous,
marginalization). At the end of each session,
give an optional homework assignment that
invites participants to look up terms between
4. Write Guidelines for Dialogue on a flip chart
5. For the Perceptions activity, write up the list of
items on flip chart paper. Keep covered until
the activity is ready.
6. For the Timeline activity, have all the materials
printed and cut out in advance with the start
and end point posted on wall a fair distance

7. Arrive to the meeting space early and place

up flip chart papers for the parking lots and
guidelines. Ensure they are in plain sight of all
8. Make sure there are enough chairs for each
participant. Place them in a circle.
9. Identify a talking tool such a talking stick which
will be introduced at the beginning and utilized
for each session.
10. Hang signs on the door or in the hallway so
people know where to go.
11. Set up a table near the door with nametags
and attendance sheet.
12. Find out where the bathrooms are.
13. Introduce yourself as people arrive.
Guidelines for Dialogue
be respectful
all voices and perspectives are given a fair
dont feel the need to speak for your group,
but if you do, let us know you are doing this
its OK to disagree
if you are offended, say so and why
share air time
feel free to pass; silence is acceptable
respect confidentiality; anything personal or
about an identifiable person should stay in the
everyone helps the facilitator keep us moving
and on track


Introduction (15-20 minutes)

Establishing Guidelines (10 minutes)

Welcome everyone to the dialogue and thank

them for their time and participation. Introduce
yourself and explain your role as a neutral facilitator,
not an expert.

Draw attention to the Guidelines for Dialogue and

ask if there are any additional items they would
like to add to the guidelines. Reinforce the idea of
Right Time, Right Place, Right People (3Rs).

Before starting the formal program, take the time to

acknowledge our presence on Treaty Six territory.
Explain that the acknowledgement of being on
Treaty territory is something that is becoming
more common but that in order not to have it just
as a token, we will take a few minutes to discuss
what that means.

Some guidelines such as be respectful, might

require more clarification or discussion, particularly
when considered in particular cultural or social

Ask the participants:

Icebreaker Activity: Perceptions3

(15 minutes)

Does anyone know why it is important to

acknowledge our presence on Treaty territory?
Why are Treaties important?

Prior to the activity, write the following list on a flip

chart paper or white board. Cover the list until you
are ready to show the youth.

Provide a handout to participants on Treaties

and provide an explanation of the importance
of acknowledging our presence. Handout can be
found at the end of this section.

Introduce the talking stick or other items and its

value and role in the Circle. Note that whoever
holds the talking stick has within their hands the
sacred power of words and others must remain
silent. The Talking Stick is a command for attention,
respect and listening. We will use the stick
throughout the dialogues.
Circle around the room for introductions:
What brings you to this program?
Where do you hope this will lead?


Post these guidelines for every session.

3 This activity can be used as a way to test assumptions

and to introduce/challenge the concept of stereotyping.
Adapted from Cultural Proficiency: A manual for school
leaders. Lindsey, Nuri Robins & Terrell. Thousand Oaks, CA:
Corwin. 2003

Country of family origin and heritage

Languages spoken
Religion/faith/spiritual background
Interests or hobbies
Favorite food
Type of movies, TV programs preferred, if any
Type of music preferred
Pets, if any, or favorite animals

Have participants self-select a partner that they

dont know well. Ask students to determine which
partner will be a and which partner will be b.
Explain to the youth they are going to be sharing
perceptions about the other student by making
guesses about what they believe is true. Explain
that while partner a is sharing their guesses with
partner b, partner b will try to remain stoic/
neutral while they share their perceptions. Once
partner a is finished sharing, partner b can
respond by sharing the true responses to the list.


Show youth the list.

After partner a and b are done sharing
responses, switch roles and repeat the process.
Reassemble as a large group and ask for volunteers
to share their experiences in learning about the
other person.
Which assumptions were accurate? Which
were not accurate?
Ask what they were thinking during the
exercise; how it felt to have the responsibility
for making the perceptions; how it felt being on
the receiving end of the perceptions; and, what
insight this gives to the process of stereotyping.
This is what were going to be challenging in
this program.
Information (10 minutes)
Take a few minutes to discuss the background of
the program, its intention and a bit more about
the John Humphrey Centre for Peace and Human
Rights to orient the participants.
Note that these dialogues are not a place for
debate but a human rights approach, for building
community, for learning, understanding, and
respecting based on firsthand experience.
Explain that the role of facilitator is not to be an
expert but a guide, from a human rights approach.
Understanding Cultural Communities
(20-30 minutes)
Select a range of cultural groups from throughout
the province. Write the name of one cultural
community on the top of a flip chart paper (one
cultural community per paper).

Break the group into teams of three or four people

and have them do a group world cafe with each
of the cultures. Give them 2-3 minutes at each
culture station to record their responses to the
following questions:
What are all the things you understand to
know about these communities?
If someone mentions this community, what
comes to mind?
What do you associate with people from this
community? Is that a good thing or a bad thing?
Post all chart paper and allow participants to
do a gallery walk and make observations. Come
together for a quick discussion of responses to the
information on the charts.
Looking at our connections with each other
and to this issue (30-40 minutes)
This section is designed to help participants learn
more about and establish deeper relationships
with each other. It is not necessary to answer or
address all of the questions. This is an important
time for bonding so keep the group together in
one circle so they can start to make connections
with each other. If you can only do one round
through the circle and one question, that is fine.
The length of this section will depend on the time
you have available.
Stories capture the richness of peoples life
experiences, and we encourage you to follow up
with many questions below with a question such
as, can you tell a story to illustrate this?
We are also aware, however, that stories can take
more time. Be sure to use the talking stick or
another symbolic item and ask participants to hold
it while they talk. This way, they are reminded to
share air time with their fellow participants.


Questions for group discussion.

Wrap Up (10 minutes)

Were you raised with cultural values and/or

traditions that remain important to you now?
Have you ever experienced a turning point
in your life involving your cultural beliefs and
values? What happened, and how did your life
Have you ever had an experience or a time in
your life when you felt like you did not belong
in your community or in this country because
of your cultural background? Did you feel your
race or ethnic origin was a factor?
How has your cultural background influenced
the values you hold as a member of your
community and of this nation?
How have your cultural views intersected with
the values you hold as a Canadian citizen or

Thank people for coming and sharing. Remind

them to attend every session and cover any housekeeping items for the remainder of the program.

Questions to tie these experiences together.

What do you think these stories tell us?
What do you think we have in common?


Discussion Questions
What have you heard or learned today that
surprised you?
How did it feel to participate in this
How did this conversation go today? What
worked well and what would you like to
change for the next session?
For Next Time:
Return to Terms Parking Lot your group may have
created during the discussion. If there are no terms,
ask, Are there any terms that you can anticipate
coming up in our dialogue that you might want to
Invite participants to divide up the list or to take
the entire list home. They can jot down their
own definition or look it up in a dictionary. Ask
participants to come to the next session prepared
to discuss these terms.


Understanding Treaties 4
Treaties between the First Nations peoples and the
British Crown are the building blocks in the creation of
the country of Canada and provide for peace and good
order for all people in Canada.
These treaties are agreements, voluntarily entered into
by both parties, which provide for peaceful relations
between the two nations. They are more than a simple
written document; they are sacred agreements between
the First Nations peoples and the British Crown with
the Creator as witness. They are living, permanent,
foundational agreements based on the synthesis of two
worldviews: the oral traditions (values and common
laws) of the First Nations peoples and the written
traditions (laws) of the Crown, who represented the
The treaties were based on the First Nations peoples
principles: Miyowicehtowin (getting along with
others); Witaskewin (living together on the land); and,
Pimaciowin (making a living). Treaties were to provide
both sides with the means of achieving survival and
socio-economic stability, anchored on the principle of
mutual benefit.
Treaties were entered into by the British Crown to
fully acknowledge the First Nations title to the land.
The Creator was considered a witness to the treaties
as it was to the Creator that the promises were made,
therefore the agreements were considered sacred. One
of the primary objectives of the treaty process was to
have the First Nations peoples relationship with the
Creator recognized and affirmed.


Treaties established what is commonly referred to as

a brother-to-brother relationship between the First
Nations peoples and the newcomers. It was decided long
before the newcomers arrived that the First Nations
peoples would treat them as relatives, as brothers and
sisters. That we would live together, side by side.Treaties
were made in an atmosphere of mutual respect, and that
the parties made solemn commitments to live in peace
and to help one another. Treaties began a relationship
which requires that both parties benefit and are
involved in decision-making and that consultation occurs
regularly to ensure the partnership remains strong.

The treaty-making process was a way of reconciling the

interests of both nations and a means to building lasting
and meaningful alliances between the Crown and First
Nations peoples that would foster the future well being
of their peoples.
Treaty 6 (1876) was negotiated as First Nations peoples
in this area saw declining fur prices, disappearance of
buffalo herds and the introduction of new diseases. First
Nations peoples acknowledged the need for education
and agriculture as a new means of ensuring an adequate
livelihood for future generations; they therefore agreed
to share their lands in exchange for the Queens
benevolence and protection.
As a treaty settlement, the Crown believed they were
to receive: 1) peaceful access to lands for settlement,
farming, railways and development; 2) peaceful
settlement in the West; 3) minimal costs for westward
expansion and and prevention of costly wars with First
Nations peoples; and 4) protection for Western lands by
stopping American expansion, as well as other benefits.
As a treaty settlement, the First Nations peoples
believed they were receiving: 1) physical survival of their
nations; 2) peaceful relations with newcomers through
ongoing equitable relations; 3) respect for cultural and
spiritual survival as distinct nations by the preservation
of their distinctive traditions and institutions; and 4)
a transition to a new lifestyle by learning different
technologies within education, economics and health, as
well as other benefits.
There are misconceptions that only First Nations
peoples are part of the treaties, but in reality, both
parties are part of the treaty. All people in Canada are
Treaty People. When we acknowledge our presence on
Treaty land, we acknowledge our shared partnership
with the First Nations of that area and recognize their
title to the land. It is a sign of respect but also part of
our journey towards reconciliation and healing for all
the wrongs done against good Treaty relations over the
past 150 years.

4 Adapted from Treaty Essential Learnings - We Are All Treaty

People. Office of the Treaty Commissioner, 2008.



Learn more about other peoples perspectives
and experience with this issue.
Talk about what we value about our community
and about Canadian democracy.
Advance Preparation
For Where Do You Stand exercise, you will
need to set up the room in advance. Bring
masking tape, two 8x11 pieces of paper and
markers. You will need to rearrange the chairs
and create an open space so people can walk
back and forth across the room. Divide the
room in half by taping a line down the middle.
Post on opposite wall signs that say: Strongly
Agree OR Strongly Disagree. Place chairs
nearby for people who cannot stand for a long
Hang the Action Ideas and Terms Parking
Lots and your groups Guidelines.
Reconnecting (5 minutes)
Remind the group how the Parking Lots work
and remind them of the session goals.
Discussion questions
Lets look at the guidelines we established
when we first met. Do we need to change or
add any?
Does anyone have a reflection to share from
last session?

Have you seen anything in the news or had an

experience that is relevant to our discussions
and that you would like to share?
Terms (2-10 minutes)
Post the list of terms the group decided to talk
about and review if there are any terms to review
since the last session. The goal of exploring terms
and language is not to reach consensus or get
general agreement about a term, but to exchange
views so that there are no misunderstandings
among participants. Talk about each term.
Encourage people to share their different
Where Do You Stand? (60 minutes)
Read the following statements aloud one at
a time. Give people time to think before they
move. After each statement and participant move,
ask one or two participants to share why they
selected that position. Some of the statements
come best as pairs. Record the major themes of
discussion on flip chart paper.
Explain to the group
The purpose of this exercise is to help us think
about our own perspectives and to learn a bit
about the perspective of others.
I am going to read some statements, one at a
time. For each, you should move to the wall
that best reflects your own views.
There are no right and wrong answers.



If a statement doesnt apply or someone

prefers to opt out of that question, then come
and stand next to the facilitators.

All Canadians, or individuals residing in Canada,

deserve to have their human rights respected
and to reach their full potential.

Statements to read aloud:

At the end of the exercise, discuss the

following questions:

I am comfortable with my level of knowledge

and understanding of my familys history and
heritage in Canada.
I am comfortable talking with people who are
from an ethnic group or race different than my
I have an understanding of the traditions and
beliefs of at least one faith or culture other than
my own.
People make assumptions about my religion,
culture or beliefs based on the colour of my
skin or the way I dress.
Concerns by others about my beliefs or
traditions are connected to stereotypes about
my race.
Some religions or cultures foster unequal
treatment of women.
Some religions or cultures are not accepting of
same-sex relationships.
Canada has a colonial past and this continues to
impact our contemporary economic, political
and social structures.
Christian values and traditions dominate the
culture in Canada. Everyone must conform to
these values and traditions.
Canada is a multicultural country where all
individuals and groups can freely express their
unique faiths, cultures and ways of being.
I am comfortable freely expressin my religious
or cultural identity I have chosen to identify
Someone who shares my religious, ethnic, racial
or cultural background would never be elected
to hold a provincial or federal position in the
Canadas diversity provides great opportunities
for diverse individuals and groups to work
together in achieving inclusive, peaceful and
compassionate communities.

What did you think as you moved around?

Did anything surprise you?
What issues emerged that we will want to
discuss more in upcoming sessions?
Our Canada: Our Rights (30 minutes)
The purpose of this exercise is to explore how
the diversity in religious, ethnic, racial or cultural
backgrounds that we explored in the previous
activity is protected in the Canadian Charter of
Rights and Freedoms.
Give each person a simplified version of
the Charter from JHC http://www.scribd.
Give a brief history on the Charter of Rights
and Freedoms (see pages 3-8 of the Youth
Guide to the Canadian Charter of Rights and
Have students write down the rights and
freedoms they have living in Canada that are
most important to them. Encourage students
to think about their own rights and freedoms
and how they affect their everyday lives.
Divide the larger group into small groups and
assign each group a section of the Canadian
Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As a group,
have participants discuss and summarize their
section, becoming very knowledgeable about
it. There are 34 sections of the Charter, so you
may want each small group to become familiar
with 2 or 3 sections, depending on the number
of participants you have.


Regroup participants so that there is one

member from each of the original groups in
each of the new groups and have participants
complete a jigsaw activity, sharing what they
have learned with their new group.
Once students have finished telling their new
group about their section of the Charter, have
participants return to their original groups. Give
each group a section of the Charter pertaining
to culture, race or religion and instruct them to
create a scenario in which a persons rights or
freedoms are disrespected.
Groups will act out their scenarios for the
larger group. After watching each scenario,
the larger group must guess which rights or
freedoms have not been respected. If time
does not permit this, have each group perform
their scenario for one or two other groups
rather than the larger group.
This is an opportunity to refocus the group
on culture. Hand out one section number to
each group and instruct groups to create their
scenario with religion, culture, ethnicity and race
in mind. The following sections of the Charter
should be used as these sections easily relate to
the subject matter: 2, 6, 8, 9, 15, 23, 25, and 27.
* This activity was adapted from the Parliament
of Canada website.


Wrap Up (5-10 minutes)

Thank everyone for their participation today and
end with a brief discussion.
Discussion Questions
what have you heard or learned today that
surprised you?
how did it feel to participate in this conversation?
how did this conversation go today? What
worked well, and what would you like to
change for next session?





Discussion Questions

Talk about the tensions that can arise in a

religiously, culturally and philosophically diverse
community and nation.
Reflect on our common values.

Advance Preparation
Write on newsprint the question, why are there
tensions among different religious and cultural
Hang the Action Ideas and Terms Parking Lot
and the Guidelines.
Hang on the wall the Values List created in the
last session.
Getting Started (15 minutes)
Discuss the following questions:
Lets look at the guidelines we established
when we first met. Do we need to change or
add any?
Does anyone have a reflection to share from
last session?
Lets look again at the list of values we created
last session. Is there anything on this list that we
all agree we need to change?
What is the nature of the challenges we face?
(60 minutes)
Ask for volunteers to read the following viewpoints
aloud. Consider allowing participants some time to
think about the perspectives or jot down some

Which viewpoint(s) are closest to your own?

Why do you hold the viewpoint you hold?
Are there other views that are missing? What?
Choose a viewpoint that you dont hold.
Discuss why you think someone might hold
that viewpoint.

Viewpoints to the Question:

Why are there tensions among different religious
and cultural groups?
1. Canadian bacon, maple syrup, Mounties and
the beaver are all symbols of Canadian identity
and speak to our unique national culture.
2. Canada is first and foremost a country that is
open and accepting to all cultures and creeds.
Multiculturalism is a defining feature of our
country and makes us unique in the world
because we have such an inclusive society
3. Canadas history is built on colonial domination
and our identity is largely defined by this today
with predominantly white males holding
positions of power and influence in Canada.
4. While Canada claims to be an inclusive society
with respect for cultural and religious diversity
many mainstream Canadians maintain that
newcomers should adopt and assimilate to
our Canadian values as proposed by Quebecs
Charter of Values which seeks to define a rigid
and limiting way to define what Canadian
values are.



5. As an indigenous person of this land I dont

identify with being Canadian. I am a member
of a distinct nation that existed before Canada
as we know it was created and its laws and
policies do not represent my values or my
6. I recognize Canada as being a nation founded
on relationships between English and French
settlers and the indigenous peoples of this
land. Being Canadian means acknowledging
and respecting the treaties and agreements
between these founding parties and honouring
these promises as continuous, evolving
7. Canadians are growing less tolerant of
the religious and cultural views of others.
There has been a rise in anti-immigrant, and
anti-Aboriginal sentiments in this country.
Hostility is increasingly aimed at people who
are deemed to be different then mainstream
Canadians suggesting that these groups lack
common Canadian values and are in contrast
with Canadian identity.
8. Canada is a polite and peaceful nation that
endeavours to uphold democracy and human
rights. We are known throughout the world as
a leader in peacekeeping, peacebuilding and
respectful arbitration in the name of justice and
equality for all.
9. Canadian identity has shifted over recent years
due to a number of policies and practices
that have gained international criticism; our
treatment of Canadas indigenous peoples, our
engagement in controversial military operations
and our lack of environmental commitments are
all examples of a shift in Canadas international
reputation and national identity.


Some cases to consider (30 minutes)

The purpose of this section is to get participants
thinking about the many ways that culture and
religion affect communities, politics, and policy. Ask
the participants to skim the cases below. Pick one
or two to discuss briefly.
The goal is not to have a comprehensive dialogue
on all, or even one, of these cases. The goal is to
help participants see the wide range of issues
relating to this topic.
Discussion Questions
What is your reaction to this situation?
How would members of your community
respond to this situation?
How would you like members of your
community to respond?
1. Traditionally, newly elected public officials have
been sworn in by placing their right hand on
a Christian bible. Your most recently elected
official wants to use the Quran. Should she be
allowed to substitute the Quran for the bible?
2. You are in 7/11 with a group of friends.You are
standing in line to purchase your slurpies and
there is an individual in front paying the cashier.
When the cashier tells the person the amount
owed, the customer asks them to repeat
the amount. The cashier has an accent. The
customer paying turns around to your group of
friends and says Before they let these people
move into our country, the least they can do is
learn how to speak English.



3. At your place of employment, employees are

given time off for Christian holidays. Some of
your co-workers would prefer to work on
those days and take other days to observe
their religious holidays, and at least one coworker wants to take personal days without
any religious purpose. Should the employees
be able to take other holidays or personal days
rather than Christmas?
4. At lunch on Monday, you and your friends are
sitting around catching up from the weekend.
One of your friends says Hey did you hear
about so and so on the weekend? She got so
drunk. It was ridiculous. One of your other
friends responds: Yeah, all those people are just
lazy, freeloading drunks anyway.
5. You are walking down the hallway and you see
someone get pushed into a locker and told get
out of my way faggot.
6. Your elected official wants to introduce
legislation making death with dignity an
option for people suffering from the late stages
of a terminal disease or from chronic pain. Do
you support a law allowing physicians to assist
patients in committing suicide under limited
7. The classroom assistant is putting posters up
about March 21st Day for the Elimination
and Racism and Discrimination and huffs and
murmurs under their breath, Bloody fencejumpers coming in and taking our jobs.
8. Some communities around the world are
passing laws banning the wearing of hijab,
headscarves. Some laws ban the hijab in
public spaces such as schools and government
buildings. What is your view on these bans?
Are there ever situations when the wearing of
overt religious symbols should be prohibited? Is
there a difference between a hijab and a nuns
habit, black robes, rosaries, and head coverings
worn by Catholic nuns?


Wrap Up (15 minutes)

Thank the participants for coming and sharing.
Close with some discussion.
Discussion Questions
What have you heard or learned today that
surprised you?
Have your views changed toward people who
hold different views than you? In what way?
How did it feel to participate in this
How did this conversation go today? What
worked well, and what would you like to
change for the next session?
For Next Time
Ask participants to consider what terms they might
use to describe the ideal community and nation, as
the first step to creating a Vision Statement.
Ask participants to review the Report Card and
consider how well the community is doing on the
report card categories.




Making the Grade (60 minutes)

Reflect on Canadas strengths and weaknesses

regarding how various diverse groups are
treated in participants individual communities.
Reflect on how these areas of strength and
weakness affect, or does not affect, the province
of Alberta and Canada as a whole.
Begin to explore the kinds of actions that
might helps us create the kind of community
we envision.

Explain to participants that we are now going

to grade their individual communities on how
different racial, ethnic, cultural and faith groups are
treated in our community. Have participants turn
to the Report Card on page of their guide. Review
the grading system.

Advance Preparation
If you are going to have participants vote for
the categories they want to work on using
stickers, prepare a sheet of flip chart paper
with the categories of the Report Card listed.
Prepare two sheets of flip chart paper; one
entitled Successes and the other, Challenges.
Bring stickers for people to use to vote on the
categories in the Report Card.
Hang the Action Ideas and Terms Parking
Lots and the Guidelines.
Reconnecting (10 minutes)
Welcome the group back and explain the session
goals for the day.
Discussion Questions
Are there any reflections since our last session?
Do you have any questions about our task for
these last two sessions?

At this point, if you are working with people from

different geographical communities, have them
group by community or by region to facilitate
focused action planning with the potential for
Explain the purpose of this exercise: to help the
group examine the strengths and challenges in
our communities and how this connects to the
province of Alberta and Canada as a whole. They
will begin to think about action strategies (Session
Read the categories and statements aloud. After
each statement, ask people to think quietly for a
moment and grade the category. Ask participants
to assign a grade of A (meaning perfect) to F
(meaning failing), or something in between.
For the discussion of the best and worse
categories, give a volunteer an opportunity to share
their best category, then ask for group discussion
about that category. Do this until each person has
had a chance to share at least one of their best
categories. Do the same for the worse categories.


Have the note taker fill out the Successes and

Challenges lists by adding the categories to each,
along with the grade.
Before moving to action, youll need to get the
group to identify where they want to put most of
their energy. Dont assume that the challenges
deserve the most attention; it may be that the group
wants to work from the communitys strengths, to
capitalize on things that it is already doing well.
Consider having participants vote on the issues
that they want to work on. They can put dots or
check marks next to the topics that interest them
the most.
Resist the temptation to work on all the issues in
the report card. Limit the categories to 2.

After completing the Report Card, use these

discussion questions:
What are your best categories? What are your
worst categories?
How did you decide what grade to give? What
have you seen or experienced that influenced
your grade?
What categories were you unsure about?
What questions do you have for the group
about these categories?
Where do we seem to have the most
agreement? Where do we seem to have the
most disagreement?
Based on our discussion, what successes do
you see? What are some challenges we need
to address? (Capture on flip chart)
Based on our discussion, where can we have
the most impact? Which four categories
concern us the most? Where can we capitalize
on successes?



Community Report Card


In our community, there are no tensions because of religious, ethnic,
racial or cultural diversity.
Everyone in our community feels welcome, regardless of their religious,
ethnocultural, racial, or socioeconomic background.
People in our community are free to practice their faith and free to
and Cultural adhere to non-religious views. They are free to practice their cultural
In our community, religious and cultural symbols and practises are at
and Cultural the level we think is best in our public spaces (schools, public parks,
libraries, etc).
Demographics Our community reflects the level of diversity we want.
Interpersonal In our community, people know how to solve problems and engage in
Relationships conversations, even when they disagree strongly.
Interfaith and
Our faith and cultural communities work together to help solve local
Theres a high level of acceptance in our schools. Students from
different religious, racial, cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds are
treated fairly.
The social services system in our community (e.g., welfare, job training,
Social Services healthcare) meets everyones needs, regardless of their diverse
In our community, people have equal opportunities for employment,
regardless of their diverse backgrounds.
Local media offers fair and full coverage of people from all different
kinds of religious, ethnic, cultural and racial backgrounds.
In our community, no-one faces barriers to voting.
Community Community leaders encourage a respectful and accepting public and
political climate.
At the local, provincial, and national levels, our elected officials
demonstrate a high and exemplary level of interfaith and intercultural
tolerance, respect, and cooperation.
The justice system in our community provides equal access to
justice and fair trials and tribunals for all members of the community
regardless of their diverse backgrounds.


Explanation of Grading System:


A - We are doing great!

D - Weve had no success.

B - We are doing well.

F - We have taken steps backward.

C - We are doing OK.

Q - Not sure.


Moving to Action (20 minutes)

Discussion Questions

You will likely not have a lot of time so should

go directly into brainstorming. Explain to the
group that what you are trying to accomplish is
to start thinking about action, without duplicating
(unnecessarily) what is already being done, building
on strengths, and considering what others have
done to address challenges.

Think quietly for a moment. What do you think

could help our community make progress?
What are some actions we can take in each
category weve chosen, and at each level of
change, that will help us reach our common goal
of creating peaceful and inclusive communities?
What are some actions we can take to improve
upon some of the strengths weve already
What are some actions we can take to
strengthen some of our areas of weakness?
What would make your action idea doable?

You are going to ask the participants the kinds of

things that are already being done to address the
challenges they identified, or the kinds of things
that are already being done that have lead to
successes. If the group does not know much about
what is already being done, consider assigning this
as homework.
Discuss what is meant by action idea before you
start. Action ideas are things we can do. They are
specific. For example:

Not this: We must change the curriculum in
Try this: Form a committee to examine
the curriculum in our local schools and make
recommendations for changes.
Write the name of the four Report Card categories
that the group chose each on their own pieces of
flip-chart paper.
Go through each category individually, asking
participants to brainstorm action ideas. A world
cafe style approach could be taken with this as well.

Wrap Up (10 minutes)

Thank participants for coming and sharing.
Discussion Questions
What worked well today? What would you like
to see done differently next time?
For Next Time
Ask participants to think about the kinds of things
that people and organizations are already doing
in their community, and to identify Community
Assets. Explain that every community has strengths
or assets, people, places, traditions, events,
organizations - things that make the community
a better place. Those assets will help you be
successful when you take action.



Action Ideas Brainstorming Sheet

On our own or with others


With community groups

With government



Review the actions ideas that came up in
Session 4.
Talk about the assets we have in our community.
Choose a small number of ideas for action.
Plan an Action Forum to jump start action.
Advance Preparation
Meet with your co-facilitator ahead of time to
For Part 1, prepare the questions for pair
discussion on flip chart paper.
For Part 3, prepare a flip chart labeled
Community Assets.
For Part 4, prepare a flip chart labeled Priority
Action Ideas and Other Ideas.
For Part 5, bring stickers. You will need three
different colours and enough of each colour for
everyone in the group to have three.
Hang the Action Ideas and Terms Parking Lots
and the Guidelines.
Hang on the wall the Values List and Action
Ideas created in the last session.
Reconnecting (20 minutes)
Welcome the group and explain the goals for the
Ask the participants to turn to their neighbour
and talk about the following:
What common concerns do you have with
others that are different than you?

What have you learned about the experiences

of others that is surprising?
What are the most important issues or ideas
that we have talked about since our circle
Discussion Questions
Have you experienced, seen, heard, or read
anything in the past week/two weeks that is
relevant to our discussions?
What are your hopes for this final session?
Reviewing Action Ideas (15 minutes)
Have the note taker write additional action ideas
on the flip chart paper from last session.
Discussion Questions
Did you think of any more ideas for our list
during the week? Are there any ideas you
would like to add?
Listing our Community Strengths
(Community Assets) (25 minutes)
Hang the pieces of flip chart paper with the
categories of Community Assets.
Do a brainstorm and have your note taker write
the answers on the Community Assets sheet.



Discussion Questions

To begin our discussion today, we need to

make a list of our assets. Every community
has strengths or assets. Assets can be people,
places, or institutions. They are things that we
have or use to help ourselves and each other.
Every group and every person has them. Assets
can be handed down in families, or from group
to group. Whatever makes our community a
better place is an asset.
Some examples:
In some communities, cultures, and groups,
taking care of one another is a way of life.
Some people are good at helping people
working on similar goals to connect and
work together.
Community centers are physical resources
that anyone in the community can use for
meetings and events.

What assets do we have to support our action

For example, one action idea may be to design
and offer interfaith learning experiences. Here
is how we could connect this to some assets:
Problem: Lack of interfaith knowledge and
Asset: an already established interfaith
council of religious leaders
Asset: a community that values education
and lifelong learning

Probing Questions
What are some things you know a lot about?
What are some talents or skills of other
members in this dialogue? How about other
people in the community?
What groups do you belong to? How can they
What organizations, groups, or government
agencies, or individuals in the community are
already working on the issues weve identified
as important? How can they help?
What assets do we have - like land, buildings,
space, tools, or even money?
Connecting Action Ideas with Community
Assets (15 minutes)


Put the list of ideas for action next to the list of

community assets. Ask participants to compare
the lists and look for strong links between them
to answer the questions. As people make the links,
have the note taker write them on the flip chart

Choosing Ideas for the Action

(40 minutes total)
Post the sheets labeled Our Vision, Action Ideas,
and Community Assets.
Explain that we will now go through a process to
choose two action ideas to take away. Look again
at our list of ideas for action. Now we are going to
narrow it down to a few ideas we can work with.
We will choose one idea that is easy; a quick win,
and one idea that is more long term and more
difficult to achieve. Each person will get three
stickers to put on action ideas they would like the
group to advance as citizens. All three votes can be
used on one idea or on different ideas.
Discussion Questions
Which ideas might help us reach our vision?
Which ideas are easiest to get done but will
still contribute to our vision? What ideas would
be more challenging to do?
Are there any ideas you need to learn more
about before you can decide whether to vote
for them or not?


Pick two ideas that seem useful and ask yourself

the following questions:
What would it take to make this happen?
What community assets could we use to
move this step forward?
What would our next steps be?
What kind of support do we need to take
these steps? Who else could we link up
Once the group decides on two action ideas, write
them on the sheet labelled Priority Action Ideas.


Wrap Up (20 minutes)

Thank people for taking part in the circles and for
working to address the role that religion plays in
public life.
Ask the questions below and then give people a
moment to reflect and answer.
Discussion Questions
What are you hopeful about after this dialogue?
What is the most important thing youve
learned during our dialogue?
What have you heard in these sessions that
changed your mind about people who have
different beliefs and philosophies than you?
What parts of this dialogue process did you
find most valuable or helpful?
What personal commitments can you make to
move our action ideas forward?


Community Assets Worksheet









Step 2 (30 min)

Supplemental activity for Elementary students

or English Language Learners

Hand out supplies and explain to the participants

that they get to create their own Canadian Flag
based on symbols and values that are important to
them and represent their Canada.This can include
words, symbols and phrases of any kind that speak
to their unique identity and their understanding of
what it means to be Canadian.

Supplies: Paper or Cardboard squares; Pencils and

Step 1 (20-30 min)
Procedure: Pose these questions to the group and
write them on a piece of paper or whiteboard at
the front of the room. Let participants come up
their own; there are no right or wrong answers).
Discuss as you go along.

Create your own Canadian Flag using the

symbols/values we discussed! This is YOUR

What are symbols of Canada? (Some examples

are: Beaver, hockey, maple syrup, maple leaf,
medicine wheel, inukshuk).

Have everyone share their flag and put all of the

flags together - mosaic-style - to create a larger
flag that represents YOUR CANADA!

Step 3

What are Canadian values? (Some examples are:

multiculturalism, inclusive, polite, peacekeepers,
What cultural groups are represented in Canada?
(First peoples, newcomers, settlers (French/English)
Are there symbols from other cultural groups
that we can include as Canadian symbols?

Activity inspired by: http://www.




This activity is a great opportunity to foster a
deeper understanding of the diverse stories that
make up Canadian history and encourage dialogue
on the evolution of citizenship and inclusion.
You will need one piece of paper with 1497
and another paper with Present Day on it to
mark the beginning and end of the timeline that
will be explored. Place these apart from each
other on a wall.
Print out the milestones below and cut each
milestone out.
Give each participant at least two milestones.
Participants will place milestones on the
timeline. There are more milestones than time
will allow so work through what you can and
then place the whole timeline up at the end
of the activity and allow people time to walk
through and discuss. Note to the participants
that this timeline is not an exclusive list and
there are some dates etc that are disputed. The
intention of this activity is to get participants
delving into a deeper history of Canada. There
is a heavy focus on Canadas relationship with
First Peoples.

There are two options depending on size of

group on how to proceed:
as a larger group, have participants pick
one milestone to read to the larger group
and have them place it on the timeline. Ask
each participant if they were aware of this
milestone and if they had anything to add.
in smaller groups or pairs, have them share
their milestones with each other and
discuss if they were aware of the milestone
and if they had anything else to add. Ask
them to pick one milestone each to share
with the larger group and why that one
was selected.
As milestones go up, discuss if the milestone
is a positive or negative event in Canadian
history and mark them with a + sign for
positive and - sign for negative as they go up.
Discuss the milestones as they are placed up
and connect them with other milestones that
were occurring at the same time.
After placing the full timeline up and allowing
people to spend time looking, ask them if they
have any other milestones to add. Keep these
in mind for future integration.


Pre-European Contact: Turtle Island (North America) was home to millions of people living in thousands
of distinct, self-governing societies that formed hundreds of nations. The many distinct nations of Turtle
Island were fishing, hunting and farming societies, with their own language, culture and traditions - their own
customary laws, distinct institutions and systems of governance. These nations interacted with each other,
economically and militarily. They traded and shared gifts. They learned to resolves clashes and disputes over
lands through treaty making. Diverse as these groups were, they shared many things in common. Their
relationship to the land defined who they were as peoples. All of their needs - food, clothing, shelter, culture,
spiritual fulfillment - were met by the land. They took seriously their collective responsibility to serve and
protect the land.
1497: Commissioned by King Henry VII of England in 1497, John Cabot sailed across the Atlantic Ocean
and ventured upon what is now Newfoundland. He claimed the land for England and returned.
Cabot would make one more journey to the New World, but would perish in the Atlantic on the
way home. However, the other boats in his fleet did return to England, confirming to the European
powers that there was a new continent worth exploring across the ocean.
1534: Jacques Cartier was a French explorer who made his first of three expeditions to Canada, looking for
a route to the Pacific Ocean through North America. He paved the way for the French exploration
of what is now Canada and, after being given directions by Huron-Iroquois for a village called
Kanata, named the entire region Kanata.
1608: Samuel de Champlain, a French explorer, founded Quebec City in 1608. This was the first official
trading post in Canada, beginning Canadas highly lucrative fur trade industry which, for nearly 150
years, would play a formative role for evolution of Canada. The fur trade paved the way for the
further exploration and settlement of Canada, allowing for traders and missionaries to establish
social, economic and colonial relationships with the First Nations people already living in Canada.
1763: The Royal Proclamation of 1763, a document which established guidelines for European settlement in
North America, was signed by King George III of Britain. It set forth a process for establishing treaties
between the British Crown and the Aboriginal peoples in North America. The Royal Proclamation
was issued to officially claim British territory in North America, after Britain won the Seven Years
War. As such, the Proclamation granted ownership over North America to King George. However,
it also explicitly stated that Aboriginal title to the land existed and all land would be considered
Aboriginal land until ceded by treaty. It forbade settlers from claiming land, unless it was first bought
by the British Crown and then sold to settlers.


1788: The first Chinese immigrants came to Canada in 1788, to assist in the building of a trading post on
Vancouver Island. Chinese immigration began in earnest in 1858, when Asian gold prospectors came
to British Columbia and drastically increased when approximately 15,000 Chinese men came to
Canada to assist in constructing the Canadian Pacific Railway. In 1885, the Government of Canada
passed the Chinese Immigration Act which forced all Chinese immigrants to pay a $50 fee, known
as a head tax.


1791: To assist in its fight against the United States in the American Revolution, Britain enlisted thousands
of former slaves, offering them freedom if they fought for Britain and terming them Black Loyalists.
When Britain began realizing that it would lose the war, it evacuated more than 2000 Black Loyalists
to Nova Scotia. Here, they formed one of the largest settlements of free Blacks outside of Africa but
conditioned to live on poor wages in harsh conditions. In 1791, a British company offered land to
these Loyalists in what is now Sierra Leone and many left with the hopes of a better life. Conditions
gradually improved for those who stayed behind and many fought for Canada against the Americas
in the War of 1812.

Canada played a significant role in the Underground Railroad, a secret network of safe houses and
routes that helped African American slaves escape from the United States. Many slaves travelled
on the Underground Railroad to Canada, where they found freedom from slavery. Many of these
former slaves settled in communities in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Ontario, where they were
forced to attend segregated schools until 1964.There were also a significant number of former slaves
who immigrated to Alberta in the early 1900s where they took up farming and cattle ranching.

1812: War of 1812 was a war against American trade and expansionism. The British supported both
American and Canadian Indigenous nations against the Americans. Indigenous nations were valuable
allies and fought to maintain alliances, power and autonomy. End of the war saw the Birth of
Canada and the dissolution of Indigenous Peoples relevance - saw the Birth of the Indian Problem.
This historical milestone marks a fundamental change in the relationship with Indigenous Peoples in
1820: Beginning in 1820, the federal government removed Indigenous children from their homes, families
and communities and placed them in church-run boarding schools, often far from their homes. In
most cases the children were not allowed to speak their own languages. Most of the children stayed
at school for 8-10 months, while others stayed all year.


While some report having positive experiences at the residential schools, many Aboriginal people
suffered from the impoverished conditions and from emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Many
more lost family connections and the opportunity to learn their culture and traditions from their
elders. Raised in an institution, many never gained parenting skills. Some students died at residential
school. Many others never returned to their home communities, or were shunned if they did.

1850: An Act for the Better Protection of the Lands and Property of Indians in Lower Canada and An
Act for the protection of Indians in Upper Canada from imposition, and the property occupied or
enjoyed by them from trespass and injury, which were passed by the Province of Canada (then a
British colony). These statutes are important in that they represented the first attempt to define
Indian and who would receive the rights and duties of Indian status. Under the acts, the term
Indian was defined broadly to include the following: 1) any person deemed to be Aboriginal by
birth or blood; 2) any person reputed to belong to a particular band or body of Aboriginals; and 3)
any person who married an Aboriginal or was adopted by Aboriginals (Indian and Northern Affairs
Canada, 1991). While the definition was broadly construed, it is important to note that it assumed
for the government the responsibility for deciding who was an Aboriginal. In other words, Aboriginal
groups themselves were not given the power to define their own communities. This power, instead,
lay in the hands of non-Aboriginal authorities.


1854: In 1854, Agnes and James Love of Scottish descent, were the first Muslims to immigrate to Canada.
Many more Muslims travelled to Canada in the late 1800s to build lives of peace and prosperity.
1857: The Gradual Civilization Act is passed by the Legislature of Upper Canada, permanently disenfranchising
all Indian and Metis peoples, and placing them in a separate, inferior legal category than citizens. It is
at this point that the strategies of civilization and assimilation begin their legislative existence, with
colonial authorities encouraging Aboriginals to forgo their Indian status and be drawn into the larger
colonial society as regular citizens (and, hence, become civilized).

Under the Act, only Aboriginal men could seek enfranchisement. In order to do so, they had to be
over the age of 21, able to read and write in either English or French, be reasonably well educated, free
of debt, and of good moral character as determined by a commission of non-Aboriginal examiners
(Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, 1996). Once enfranchised, the person was
entitled to receive up to 50 acres of land from the reserve on which they lived and a per capita share
of treaty annuities and other band monies. Enfranchisement was to be fully voluntary by the man
seeking it. However, an enfranchised mans wife and children automatically lost their Indian status,
regardless of whether or not they so desired.

1860: Indian Lands Act - important element of this Act was the centralization of control over Aboriginal
affairs for the colony. The Act created the office of the Chief Superintendent of Indian Affairs, and
transferred all authority for Aboriginals and their lands in the Province of Canada to this single
official. Moreover, the Chief Superintendent was given very broad discretionary powers over reserve
1864: The Charlottetown and Quebec Conferences: In 1864, prominent politicians from Nova Scotia,
Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Newfoundland organized a conference in Charlottetown,
PEI to discuss a union among themselves. After various presentations outlining the economic and
national benefits of a union, as well as establishing the legal structure, the conference attendees
decided that they wished to expand their union beyond the four Maritime provinces and begin talks
of including the Province of Canada (what is now Quebec and Ontario) in their union.

The delegates of the Charlottetown Conference met again one month later in Quebec City to
formalize the details of a union. Here they developed federalism as the governing structure of their
new union, granting powers to a central government but allowing the provinces to retain powers
of their own. After convening for three weeks, the Quebec Conference concluded with a basic
constitution, known as the Quebec Resolutions, which outlined the union of the Province of Canada
and the Maritime provinces.

1867: In 1867, the British Parliament passed the British North America Act, establishing the Dominion of
Canada as a new self-governing federation, consisting of the provinces of New Brunswick, Nova
Scotia, Quebec and Ontario (formerly the Province of Canada). The BNA Act established the
distribution of powers and responsibilities for each level of government in Canada, as well as the
rights of its inhabitants.


Along with establishing Canada as a new federation, the BNA Act specified how Canadas
indigenous peoples were put under the protection of the British Crown. It provided the legal base
for the treaties and emphasized the new federal governments central priorities of assimilation,
enfranchisement and civilization. The British North America Act made Indians and land reserved for
Indians a federal responsibility. This Act gave legislative authority over Aboriginals and their lands to
the federal Parliament, removing it from the provincial legislatures.

1869: The Government of Canada passed An Act for the gradual enfranchisement of Indians, the better
management of Indian affairs, and to extend the provisions of the Act 31st Victoria. This Act is
significant in that it was the first to introduce the notion of self-government for Aboriginals on
reserves. Under the Act, Aboriginal tribes or bands were permitted to elect chiefs and band councils
for the purpose of general administration on reserves. These elected officials were granted limited
bylaw powers, and were elected to terms of three years. It is important to note many Aboriginal
groups did not engage in democratic practices at the time. Consequently, the Act granted the
government the power to impose democratic institutions on them, regardless of what Aboriginal
groups desired. Furthermore, Aboriginal women were excluded from voting for band chiefs and

In addition to a mechanism for Aboriginal self-government, the 1869 Act included other key
provisions. It prohibited the sale of alcohol to Aboriginals, on the grounds of protecting Aboriginals
from themselves. Furthermore, the Act instituted a compulsory enfranchisement provision. Under
the 1869 Act, however, Aboriginal women who married non-Aboriginal men automatically lost
their Indian status, regardless of whether or not they so desired it. Moreover, any children resulting
from the marriage would also be denied Indian status. This provision continued with the strategy
of assimilation, as many Aboriginal women, and their children, forcefully lost their Indian status and
gained Canadian citizenship.

1869: In 1869, the new Canadian government bought Rupertsland, the northern and western territories of
Canada, from the Hudsons Bay Company, a company which played a significant role in Canadas fur
trade and settlement. Afraid that this new purchase would push them off of their traditional territory,
the Metis people of the Red and Assiniboine Rivers seized Fort Garry, a trading post in what is now
Manitoba. This is known as the Red River Rebellion. Their demands were successful and the province
of Manitoba was created with the assurance that the Metis would not lose their land.
1876: In 1876, all laws pertaining to Indians were gathered together and put into the Indian Act. The
Indian Act is still enforced today and was last updated in the 1980s.


The Indian Act pertains only to First Nations, not Metis or Inuit. The effect of the Indian Act on
First Nations people was to transform independent First Nations into physically marginalized and
economically impoverished bands and individuals into wards of the state. Through the Indian Act,
the federal government denied the basic rights that many Canadians take for granted and established
the reserve system.


1877: Japanese immigrants began to arrive in Canada between 1877 and 1928. Until 1907, when Canada
limited the number of Japanese male immigrants to 400 per year, almost all of these immigrants were
men.These men often settled along the West coast, assisting in fishing, pulp-mills and mining. Despite
their contributions to the Canadian economy, they were often scapegoats of a growing recession
and increasing rates of unemployment, with members of the discriminatory Asiatic Exclusion League
blaming them for job loss among Caucasian Canadians. After 1907, most Japanese immigrants were
women coming to join their husbands in Canada.This immigration ceased during World War II when
Japan allied with Nazi Germany and increased again during the 1960s.
1881: Between 1881 and 1914, the first Ukrainian immigrants came to Canada. Escaping social discrimination
and economic hardships at home, many Ukrainians answered Canadas call for farmers to assist in
strengthening the countrys agricultural development. Many Ukrainian immigrants settled in western
Canada, where they contributed to strengthening the western economy and still have a strong
presence today.
1882: Lebanese immigrants began arriving to Canada as early as 1882. Many were fleeing the Ottoman
Empire and settled in Montreal. The Arab Canadian community began to increase between 1981
and 1901, when growing numbers of Syrian immigrants began settling in Montreal. An average of 150
Arab immigrants arrived each year, growing to approximately 7,000 by 1911, until it was interrupted
by the Continuous Passage Act.
1884: Legislation is passed in Ottawa creating a system of state-funded, church administered Indian
Residential Schools.
1884: The Indian Act was revised to prohibit of several traditional Aboriginal ceremonies, such as potlaches.

Section 3 of the Act read:

Every Indian or other person who engages in or assists in celebrating the Indian festival known as the
Potlatch or the Indian dance known as the Tamanawas is guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be liable
to imprisonment for a term not more than six nor less than two months in any gaol or other place of
confinement; and, any Indian or other person who encourages, either directly or indirectly, an Indian or
Indians to get up such a festival or dance, or to celebrate the same, or who shall assist in the celebration
of same is guilty of a like offence, and shall be liable to the same punishment.

The ban was not lifted until 1951 and severely limited First Nations people from not only celebrating
their culture but retaining important practices and passing them along to future generations.

1885: General Middleton introduced the Pass System in western Canada, under which Natives could not
leave their reserves without first obtaining a pass from their farming instructors permitting them to
do so. While neither the Indian Act nor any other legislation allowed the Department of Indian Affairs
to institute such a system, and it was known by government lawyers to be illegal as early as 1892, the
Pass System continued to be enforced until the early 1930s.


1885: Louis Riel led the North-West Rebellion in 1885, seizing a parish church in Batouche, Saskatchewan
after believing a petition the Metis people sent to the federal government was not being taken
seriously. Unlike his previous Rebellion, Riels demands were not met and he was hanged in November
of 1885.

Frog Lake Massacre of 1885 is one of the most influential events associated with the North-West
Resistance. The massacre was incited by hunger and frustration. A break-away element of the Plains
Cree murdered nine white men on the morning of April 2nd. While Chief Big Bear sought for
peaceful resolution of concerns and was not part of the massacre, he was part of the largest public
hanging in Canadian history.

1894: Indian Act: Removal of band control over non-Aboriginals living on reserves. This power was
transferred to the Superintendent General of Indian Affairs.
1904: The first Sikh immigrants began arriving in 1904, as part of a Hong Kong military contingent travelling
to the coronation of King Edward VII. By 1908, more than 5000 South Asians (over 90% of them
Sikhs) had arrived in British Columbia. In 1905, the Canadian government placed a landing fee of $50
for all Sikh immigrants arriving to Canada. This fee was increased to $200 in 1908.

It was also in 1908 that the first gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) was built by the Khalsa Diwan
Society in West Vancouver. Because of the Continuous Passage Act many Indian men travelled to India
and made their way across the Canadian border by foot, taking refuge in the gurdwara.

1905: Indian Act: Power to remove Aboriginal peoples from reserves near towns with more than 8,000
1905: Over one hundred residential schools are in existence across Canada, 60% of them run by the
Roman Catholics.
1907: Dr. Peter Bryce, Medical Inspector for the Department of Indian Affairs, tours the residential schools
of western Canada and British Columbia and writes a scathing report on the criminal health
conditions there. Bryce reports that native children are being deliberately infected with diseases like
tuberculosis, and are left to die untreated, as a regular practice. He cites an average death rate of
40% in the residential schools. November 15, 1907: Bryces report is quoted in The Ottawa Citizens
1908: In 1908, the Government of Canada enacted the Continuous Passage Act which required all immigrants
coming to Canada to do so on a continuous journey from their point of origin to Canada.This meant
that they were not allowed to stop in any other countries during their journey to Canada. The
Continuous Passage Act created a severe barrier for immigrants coming from Asia because trips from
most Asian countries required stops.


The Continuous Passage Act was created as a response to increasing immigration from India,
particular of Sikhs, which caused public fear, racial hostility and resentment from other groups in
Canada. It was in effect until 1947.


1908: Duncan Campbell Scott, Superintendent of Indian Affairs, suppresses Bryces report and conducts a
smear and cover-up campaign regarding its findings. Bryce is expelled from the civil service.
1911: Indian Act: Power to expropriate portions of reserves for roads, railways and other public works, as
well as to move an entire reserve away from a municipality if it was deemed expedient.
1914: Indian Act: Requirement that western Aboriginals seek official permission before appearing in
Aboriginal costume in any public dance, show, exhibition, stampede or pageant.
1914: In 1914, a Japanese steamship called Komagatu Maru, carrying 376 passengers from Punjab, British
India arrived in Vancouver, British Columbia.The vast majority of the passengers, 340, were Sikh while
the others were Muslim and Hindu. The passengers were not allowed off of the boat and spent two
months living in its poor conditions. They survived off of food given to them by mainland Canadians.
Komagatu Maru was eventually ordered back to India and only 24 of its passengers were allowed to
remain in Canada. Upon arrival in Canada, approximately 19 of the passengers were killed in what is
now called the Baj Baj Massacre.
1914: On August 4th, 1914 Britain entered the First World War. As a British dominion, Canada was
automatically entered into the war but could determine its level of involvement.The next day, August
5th, the Governor General of Canada declared war on Germany. Over half a million Canadian men
and women enlisted into the war effort as soldiers, nurses and chaplains. It is estimated that close
to 3,500 Aboriginal Canadians fought for the Canadian Forces at this time, as well as numerous
Canadians of Chinese, Japanese and Black descent. The First World War lasted until November 11th,
1918: Indian Act: Power to lease out uncultivated reserve lands to non-Aboriginals if the new leaseholder
would use it for farming or pasture.
1918: An Act to confer the Electoral Franchise upon Women: Women who are British subjects, 21 years of
age, and otherwise meet the qualifications entitling a man to vote, are entitled to vote in a Dominion
election. In effect January 1, 1919.


Section 41 of the British North America Act stated that:

Until the Parliament of Canada otherwise provides, all laws in force in the several Provinces of the Union
... shall ... apply to elections of Members to serve in the House of Commons ... [and] every male British
Subject, aged Twenty-one Years or upwards, being a householder, shall have a vote.

During the late 1800s and early 1900s, several provinces allowed women property owners to
vote in municipal elections. However, many womens suffrage groups had formed to fight for the
universal suffrage of women.The first suffrage groups were established by women who were seeking
social, economic and political equality with men. Most of these women were professionals and often
pioneers in fields such as medicine where they had faced discrimination while trying to advance their
careers. These suffrage groups evolved to include women who had broad ideas for social reform,


advocating for changes in child labour, workplace safety, the sale of alcohol and more. These women
sought to influence political leaders through petitions, lectures, meetings with politicians and public

In 1916, Manitoba women were the first in Canada to win the right to vote in provincial elections.
Several months later women in Saskatchewan gained the vote, followed by those in Alberta. The
following year, women in Ontario and British Columbia also voted in provincial elections.

After gaining the provincial vote, women were well on their way to voting in federal elections. The
first Canadian women to vote at the federal level were the Bluebirds, WWI nurses who voted
under the Military Voters Act. The War-time Elections Act, enacted soon after, gave the vote to close
female relatives of men serving in the armed forces. These acts built on the political pressure of the
suffragists to push for the universal suffrage of women in federal elections. In 1918, Canadian women
gained the right to vote in federal elections. However, this excluded First Nations women, who were
not given the right to vote in federal elections until 1960.

1919: Despite an escalating death rate of Indian children in residential schools from tuberculosis - in some
cases as high as 75% - Duncan Campbell Scott abolishes the post of Medical Inspector for Indian
residential schools. Within two years, deaths due to tuberculosis have tripled in residential schools.
1920: Although people from numerous cultural and religious groups played a key role in shaping Canada,
there were those who opposed anyone who was, or was perceived to be, a racial or ethnic minority.
This included the Klu Klux Klan which formed in the 1920s and was active in Quebec, Ontario, BC,
Saskatchewan and Alberta. The Kanadian Klan adopted discriminatory and hateful attitudes towards
Canadians who did not fit their white, or Aryan, norm. Groups such as this still exist in Canada
although committing a hate crime or hate based incident is a serious offense under Canadian law.
1927: Indian Act: Prohibition of anyone (Aboriginal or otherwise) from soliciting funds for Aboriginal
legal claims without special licence from the Superintendent General. This amendment granted the
government control over the ability of Aboriginals to pursue land claims.
1928: Sexual Sterilization Act is passed in Alberta, allowing any inmate of a residential school or institution
to be sterilized upon the approval of the school Principal. At least 3,500 Indian women are sterilized
under this law.
1930: Indian Act: Prohibition of pool hall owners from allowing entrance of an Aboriginal who by inordinate
frequenting of a pool room either on or off an Indian reserve misspends or wastes his time or means
to the detriment of himself, his family or household.
1938: By 1931 there were over 600 Muslims in Canada and seven years later the first mosque in North
America, Al Rashid, was built in Edmonton, Alberta.



1939: The Second World War lasted from 1939 to 1945. Over 1 million Canadian citizens served in the
military effort. At this time, Adolf Hitler and the Nazi Party of Germany targeted and killed over 12
million people of Jewish descent and also targeted individuals who were Gypsies, Polish, homosexual,
physically or mentally disabled or Soviet prisoners of war. This era of mass murder and targeted hate
is known as the Holocaust.

During this time, the Canadia government did not allow Jewish refugees to come to Canada. A
prominent government official claimed that none is too many when discussing the allowance of
Jewish refugees into Canada. In 1939, the St.Louis a boat with over 900 refugees was turned away
from the Halifax Harbour.

The Japanese attack of Pearl Harbour also took place during World War II, signifying Japans alignment
with Nazi Germany in the war. Twelve weeks after the December 7th, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbour,
the Canadian government used the War Measures Act to issue the forced removal of all Japanese
Canadians living 160 km from the Pacific Coast. Over 20,000 Japanese men, women and children
were forced from their homes and sent to detention centres throughout western Canada. Many
were Canadian citizens who lost their homes, businesses and possessions during their internment.

1960: Aboriginal Canadians were no longer required to give up their treaty rights and renounce their status
under the Indian Act in order to qualify for the vote.
1968: Homosexuality was decriminalized in Canada in 1968.
1971: Multiculturalism Act: In 1971, Canada was the first country in the world to adopt multiculturalism as
an official policy. By enacting this policy, Canada affirmed the value and dignity of all Canadian citizens
regardless of their racial or ethnic origins, their language, or their religious affiliation. The Policy also
confirmed the rights of Aboriginal peoples and the status of Canadas two official languages, English
and French.
1971: Following the Second World War, Canada loosened its strict and often discriminatory immigration
policies and began allowing individuals facing violence, persecution and discrimination to seek refuge
in Canada. The Immigration Act was enacted in 1971, which allowed for refugees to enter Canada.
During the 1980s and 1990s, Canada saw a rise in immigration of individuals from various countries
in Africa as well as entrepreneurs from China.


Following the September 11th terrorist attack, and in an attempt to protect Canadas national
security, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was enacted to place restrictions on those who
could come to Canada. Immigrants required higher qualifications to contribute to Canadas economy
and tougher requirements were placed on refugees and business immigrants. While Canada accepts
newcomers from around the world, the Philippines provided the largest number of immigrants from


1982: Constitution Act, 1982 helped to bring the rightful place of Aboriginal people in Canadian society into
focus. The Constitution Act, 1982 was the first constitutional document since the Royal Proclamation
of 1763 to acknowledge the distinct place of Aboriginal peoples within Canada, and section 35
recognizes and affirms existing Aboriginal rights. Aboriginal people have since successfully enforced
a number of their rights through the Canadian legal system. Most notably in Delgamuukw where
the Supreme Court of Canada held that Aboriginal title to their traditional lands survived British
Sovereignty and unless clearly extinguished by federal legislation prior to 1982, still existed. Moreover,
Delgamuukw importantly held that Native oral history was admissible as evidence on par with the
European tradition of written history, thereby lifting an impossible burden of proof which had been
placed on Aboriginal claimants.
1984: The last Indian residential school is closed, in northern British Columbia.
1981: The Lovelace case went before the International Court of Human Rights, and the United Nation
condemned Canada for this discriminatory practice.
1982: The Constitution Act of 1982, enforced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms which affirms that all
Canadians, regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical
disability, have equal fundamental freedoms, rights and responsibilities. The Constitution Act was the
first constitutional document since the Royal Proclamation of 1763 to acknowledge the distinct place
of Aboriginal peoples within Canada, and section 35 recognizes and affirms existing Aboriginal rights.
Aboriginal people have since successfully enforced a number of their rights through the Canadian
legal system.
1985: The passage of Bill C-31, the discriminatory clause of the Indian Act was removed, and Canada
officially gave up the goal of enfranchising Natives.


The Indian Act, 1985 removed this discrimination by asserting that women could no longer gain or
lose Indian status as a result of marriage. Moreover, the new Act permitted the restoration of Indian
status to several groups that had been forcefully enfranchised in the past. This included Aboriginal
women who had lost status due to marrying non-Aboriginals; children enfranchised as a result of
their mothers marriage to non-Aboriginals; persons enfranchised as a result of the double-mother
provision; and illegitimate children of Aboriginal women who lost their Indian status because of nonAboriginal paternity.
In addition to removing elements of discrimination from the Act, the 1985 revision also granted
Aboriginal bands the right to determine their own membership. Under the Act, bands were allowed
to administer and update their band lists, which was a record of all persons who were recognized
as formally belonging to the band. Moreover, bands were allowed to establish their own rules of
membership in administering their band lists. This reform enabled greater Aboriginal control over
who was to be considered an Aboriginal for the purpose of the Indian Act.

1997: The court said milestone decision that aboriginals were entitled to such property rights as they
occupied land before European powers exerted sovereignty. Legal scholars say the 1997 judgment,
though, failed to make clear what aboriginals needed to do or demonstrate before they could obtain
such property rights.


2001: On September 11th, 2001 the Islamic extremist group, al Qaeda, attacked the United States of
America through a series of devastating terrorist attacks. Because these attacks were caused by a
Muslim extremist group, anti-Muslim sentiments and Islamophobia increased worldwide and Canada
was not immune. Many Canadian Muslims, or individuals perceived to be Muslim, unfairly became the
targets of discrimination, intolerance and in extreme cases, hate based crime or incidents.
2003: In 2003, The Ontario Court of Appeal unanimously ordered the Ontario government to issue
marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Two Ontario mend became the first in North American
history to obtain a license and get married. Same-sex marriage is now legal nationwide although
members of this community continue to face discrimination.
2008: Federal Apology for the Indian Residential Schools.
2010: Canada formally endorsed the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
2013: In 2013, the Parti Quebecois proposed the Quebec Charter of Values which sought to ban public
employees from wearing overt religious symbols such as the hijab, kirpan, yarmulke or cross.
2013: In October of 2013, James Anaya, the UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Peoples, visited Canada.
He spent nine days meeting with provincial and federal authorities as well as numerous First Nations,
Metis and Inuit groups. In his concluding statement, he said that Canada faces a crisis when it comes
to the situation of indigenous peoples of the country and explained how indigenous peoples in
Canada face high rates of poverty, suicide, dismal living conditions, among many other disparities.
He also mentioned th ehigh rates of violence committed against Aboriginal women and expressed
concern for the hundreds of missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.
2014: On October 22nd, 2014, Corporal Nathan Cirillo was fatally shot while standing guard at the
Canadian National War Memorial on Parliament Hill.




Another thing I think is key to study circles is a

personal philosophy if you believe that putting
people together who are very different than one
another can result in something constructive, then
at some point you just have to let it fly. We tried to
communicate that these skills, these techniques are
helpful. But you may not be able to employ any or all
of these.You have to let the group dynamics happen,
and have faith that in working with the group, theyll
reach meaningful outcomes.
Part of our role is [saying to facilitators], you can do
this. You dont have to do it alone. Use your group.
Youre responsible for guiding the process, not the
outcome.The group is responsible for that.
Bob Blackwell speaks of his experience as a facilitator

Key Facilitation Skills

Reflecting and clarifying

Shifting focus
Asking probing or followup questions
Managing conflict
Using silence
Using non-verbal signals (body language)
Remaining Positive

Reflecting and Clarifying:

Restating an idea or thought to make it more clear
If I am hearing you correctly
What I believe you are saying

Briefly restating the main thoughts in a clear and
concise way
It seems like a few major themes have come up.
they are
Shifting Focus:
Moving from one speaker or topic to another
Thank you John. Does anyone on this side of the
room have anything to add?
Weve been focusing on themes 1 and 2. Does
anyone feel strongly about any of the other
Asking Probing or Follow-up Questions:
Using questions to assist in exploring disagreements,
understanding multiple perspective and reaching
common ground
What are the key points here?
How could we view this through a different
What would someone with a different point of
view say?


Managing Conflict:
Ensuring that conflict and disagreement are
Lets refer back to our ground rules
What seems to be at the heart of this issue?
What do others think?
Using Silence:
Allowing time and space for reflection by pausing
after comments and questions
Allowing time for participants to make notes and
gather thoughts before speaking
Using Non-Verbal Signals (Body Language):
Recognizing and understanding how people
communicate without using words
What signals am I sending with my body?
What signals am I receiving from others?
How do I signal encouragement and safety?
Remaining Positive
Complimenting and maintaining a positive outlook
on the group, their input and the process
Great comment
Thats an interesting idea
A Neutral Facilitator


Explains his/her role

Sets a relaxed, welcoming and safe tone and
Does not share personal opinions or push an
Does not take sides
Guides the process, not the outcome
Makes everyone feel that their opinions are
welcome, valid and appreciated

Does not use his/her personal experiences or

opinions to make a point or foster discussion
Airs differing viewpoints
Brings up issues that participants have not
Reminds participants of comments they shared
in earlier sessions
Remember: The facilitator should not share
personal views and/or stories.They should also not
push their own agenda. The facilitators role is to
serve the group and help people have a productive
Preparing to Facilitate
A facilitator does not need to be an expert on
the topic being discussed. However, they must be
prepared by
Understanding the goals of the community or
group they are working with
Be familiar with the discussion materials
Think ahead of time about how the discussion
may go, brainstorming any challenges that may
Have questions in mind to help the group
reflect on and discuss the subject
Facilitating Viewpoints and Approaches
How to Facilitate
Write the topic sentence or theme for all
discussion questions on the top of a flip chart
for easy and quick reference
Help people understanding that they are
not choosing the best idea, but are instead
brainstorming and exploring a range of ideas
Give people time to look over the information
Ask participants to choose one view to discuss.
They can agree or disagree with it.
Ask for one volunteer to read the view or
approach out loud


Touch on all of the views/approaches and

help people to see the various connections
between them
Summarize the discussion by noting areas
where people agreed and others where they
Help people to reflect on how these issues
impact or play out in their own lives or
Helpful Questions
Which views are closest to your own and why?
Think about a view you dont agree with. Why
would someone support that view? Why do
you not agree with it?
What views conflict with each other?
What views would you add?
Which approaches appeal most to you and
What approaches would work best in our
community and which wouldnt?
How would this approach help us to make
Remember: Exploring diverse and differing
perspectives is essential to understand the
complexity of an issue. It also helps to address any
successes or challenges that can be found when
addressing the issue. Utilizing a variety of facilitation
approaches can be helpful in this process.
Helping the Group to do its Work
Be attentive to who has spoken and who hasnt
Consider splitting the group up into smaller
groups to put people more at ease during
discussion activities
Enter the discussion only when they need to. If
the discussion is going well and the participants
are actively engaged, the facilitator should not
be saying much.

Dont allow the group to turn to you or rely on

you for answers.
Dont speak after each comment or answer
every question. Allow participants to talk
directly to each other.
Ask participants to sum up important points
in their own words to ensure that everyone
understands where the dialogue has headed.
Allow participants time to think before they
respond. Count silently to ten before you
rephrase the question.
Involve everyone and dont let anyone overtake
the conversation
Dont allow the group to get off track or spend
too much time on a personal experience,
anecdote or joke.
Keep careful track of time and remain efficient.
Helping the Group Reflect on Different
Points of View
Look at the pros and cons of each viewpoint
or ask participants to consider a point of view
that hasnt yet come up.
Ask participants to think about how their own
values and beliefs influence their opinions.
Highlight when participants see things in
common and help them to do so.
Asking Open Ended Questions
Ask open-ended questions to assist participants
in making connections between ideas and delving
further into discussion topics.
General Questions
What seems to be the key point here?
Do you agree with that? Why?
What do other people think of this idea?
What would be a strong case against what you
just said?
What experiences have you had with this?


Could you help us understand the reasons

behind your opinion?
How might others see this issue?
Do you think others in the group see this the
way you do? Why?
Questions to Ask During a Disagreement

What do you think he or she is saying?

What bothers you most about this?
What is at the heart of the disagreement?
How does this make you feel?
What experiences or beliefs might lead a
person to support that point of view?
What do you think is really important to people
who hold that opinion?
What is blocking the discussion?
What dont you agree with?
What do you find most convincing about that
point of view?
What is it about that position that you just
cannot live with?
Could you say more about what you think?
What makes this topic hard?
What have we missed that we need to talk

Questions to Ease Discouragement

How does that make you feel?
What triumphs, successes or positives can we
see in this?
What gives you hope?
How can we make progress on these problems?
Perhaps there is something we havet yet
Closing Questions
What are the key points of agreement and


What have you heard today that has made you

think or touched you in some way?

Six Fundamental Patterns of Cultural

In a world as complex as ours, each of us is shaped
by many factors, and culture is one of the powerful
forces that acts on us. Anthropologists Kevin
Avruch and Peter Black explain the importance of
culture this way: ...Ones own culture provides the
lens through which we view the world; the logic...
by which we order it; the grammar... by which it
makes sense.5 In other words, culture is central to
what we see, how we make sense of what we see,
and how we express ourselves.
As people from different cultural groups take on
the exciting challenge of working together, cultural
values sometimes conflict. We can misunderstand
each other, and react in ways that can hinder what
are otherwise promising partnerships. Oftentimes,
we arent aware that culture is acting upon us.
Sometimes, we are not even aware that we have
cultural values or assumptions that are different
from others.
Six fundamental patterns of cultural differences ways in which cultures, as a whole, tend to vary
from one another - are described below. The
descriptions point out some of the recurring causes
of cross-cultural communication difficulties.6 As you
enter into multicultural dialogue or collaboration,
keep these generalized differences in mind. Next
time you find yourself in a confusing situation, and
you suspect that cross-cultural differences are at
play, try reviewing this list. Ask yourself how culture
may be shaping your own reactions, and try to see
the world from others points of view.


1. Different Communications Styles

3. Different Approaches to Completing Tasks

The way people communicate varies widely

between, and even within, cultures. One aspect
of communication style is language usage.
Across cultures, some words and phrases
are used in different ways. For example, even
in countries that share the English language,
the meaning of yes varies from maybe, Ill
consider it to definitely so, with many shades
in between.

From culture to culture, there are different

ways that people move toward completing
tasks. Some reasons include different access to
resources, different judgements of the rewards
associated with task completion, different
notions of time, and varied ideas about how
relationship building and task-oriented work
should go together.

Another major aspect of communication style

is the degree of importance given to non-verbal
communication. Non-verbal communication
includes not only facial expressions and
gestures; it also involves seating arrangements,
personal distance, and sense of time. In addition,
different norms regarding the appropriate
degree of assertiveness in communicating can
add to cultural misunderstandings. For instance,
some white Canadians typically consider raised
voices to be a sign that a fight has begun, while
some black, Jewish and Chinese often feel that
an increase in volume is a sign of an exciting
conversation among friends. Thus, some white
Canadians may react with greater alarm to a
loud discussion than would members of other
ethnic or non-white racial groups.

2. Different Attitudes towards Conflict


Some cultures view conflict as a positive thing,

while others view it as something to be avoided.
In Canada, conflict is not usually desirable, but
people are often encouraged to deal directly
with conflicts that do arise. In fact, face-to-face
meetings customarily are recommended as
the way to work through whatever problems
exist. In contrast, in many Eastern countries,
open conflict is experience as embarrassing
or demeaning; as a rule, differences are best
worked out quietly. A written exchange may be
the favoured means to address the conflict.

When it comes to working together effectively

on a task, cultures differ with respect to the
importance placed on establishing relationships
early on in the collaboration. A case in point,
Asian and Indigenous cultures tend to attach
more value to developing relationships at
the beginning of a shared project and more
emphasis on task completion toward the
end as compared with European-Canadians.
European-Canadians tend to focus immediately
on the task at hand, and let relationships develop
as they work on the task. This does not mean
that people from any one of these cultural
backgrounds are more or less committed to
accomplishing the task, or value relationships
more or less; it means they may pursue them

4. Different Decision-making Styles

The roles individuals play in decision-making
vary widely from culture to culture. For example,
in Canada, decisions are frequently delegated
- that is, an official assigns responsibility for a
particular matter to a subordinate. In many
Southern European and Latin American
countries, there is a strong value placed on
holding decision-making responsibilities oneself.
When decisions are made by groups of people,
majority rule is common in Canada; in Japan,
consensus in the preferred mode. Be aware
that individuals expectations about their own
roles in shaping a decision may be influenced
by their cultural frame of reference.


5. Different Attitudes Toward Disclosure

6. Different Approaches to Knowing

Notable differences occur among cultural

groups when it comes to epistemologies that is, the ways people come to know things.
European cultures tend to consider information
acquired through cognitive means, such as
counting and measuring, more valid than other
ways of coming to know things. Compare that
to African cultures preference for affective
ways of knowing - that is, knowledge that
comes from the experience of something includes symbolic imagery and rhythm. Asian
cultures epistemologies tend to emphasize the
validity of knowledge gained through striving
toward transcendence.

In some cultures, it is not appropriate to be

frank about emotions, about the reasons
behind a conflict or misunderstanding, or
about personal information. Keep this in mind
when you are in a dialogue or when you are
working with others. When you are dealing
with a conflict, be mindful that people may
differ in what they feel comfortable revealings.
Questions that may seem natural to you - what
was the conflict about? What was your role in
the conflict? What was the sequence of events?
- may seem intrusive to others. The variation
among cultures in attitudes toward disclosure
is something to consider before you conclude
that you have an accurate reading of the views,
experiences, and goals of the people with
whom you are working.

Here in Canada, with all our cultural mixing and

sharing, we can not apply these generalizations
to whole groups of people. But we can use
them to recognize that there is more than one
way to look at the world and to learn.

Indeed, these different approaches to knowing

could affect ways of analyzing a community
problem or finding ways to resolve it. Some
members of your group may want to do library
research to understand a shared problem
better and identify possible solutions. Others
may prefer to visit places and people who have
experiences challenges like the ones you are
facing, and get a feeling for what has worked

5 Avruch, Kevin and Peter Black, Conflict Resolution in

Inter-cultural Settings: Problems and Prospects, in Conflict
Resolution Theory and Practice: Integration and Application,
edited by Dennis Sandole and Hugo van der Merwe. New
York: St. Martins Press, 1993.


6 This list and some of the explanatory text is drawn

from DuPraw and Warfield (1991), an informally published
workshop manual.




In addition to helping us to understand ourselves and

our own cultural frames of reference, knowledge
of these six patterns of cultural difference can help
us to understand the people who are different
from us. An appreciation of patterns of cultural
difference can assist us in processing what it means
to be different in ways that are respectful of other,
not faultfinding or damaging.
Anthropologists Avruch and Black have noted
that, when faced by an interaction that we do not
understand, people tend to interpret the others
involved as abnormal, weird, or wrong. This
tendency, if indulged, gives rise on the individual
level to prejudice. If this propensity this either
consciously or unconsciously integrated into
organizational structures, then prejudice takes root
in our institutions - in the structures, laws, policies,
and procedures that shape our lives. Consequently,
it is vital that we learn to control the human
tendency to translate different from me into less
than me. We can learn to do this.
We can also learn to collaborate across cultural
lines as individuals and as a society. Awareness of
cultural differences doesnt have to divide us from
each other. It doesnt have to paralyze us either, for
fear of not saying the right thing. In fact, becoming
more aware of our cultural differences, as well as
exploring our similarities, can help us communicate
with each other more effectively. Recognizing
where cultural differences are at work is the first
step toward understanding and respecting each

Learning about different ways that people

communicate can enrich our lives. Peoples different
communications styles reflect deeper philosophies
and world views which are the foundation of their
culture. Understanding these deeper philosophies
gives us a broader picture of what the world has
to offer us.
Learning about peoples cultures has the potential
to give us a mirror image of our own. we have
the opportunity to challenge our assumptions
about the right way of doing things, and consider
a variety of approaches. We have a chance to
learn new ways to solve problems that we had
previously given up on, accepting the difficulties as
just the way things are.
Lastly, if we are open to learning about people from
other cultures, we become less lonely. Prejudice
and stereotypes separate us from whole groups
of people who could be friends and partners in
working for change. Many of us long for real contact.
Talking with people different from ourselves gives
us hope and energizes us to take on the challenge
of improving our communities.



As you set to work on multicultural

collaboration, keen in mind these additional
Learn from generalizations about other
cultures, but dont use those generalizatons
to stereotype, write off , or oversimplify your
ideas about another person. The best use of a
generalization is to add it to your storehouse
of knowledge so that you better understand
and appreciate other interesting, multi-faceted
human beings.
Practise, practise, practise. Thats the first rule
because its in the doing that we actually get
better at cross-cultural communication.
Dont assume that there is one right way
(yours!) to communicate. Keep questioning
your assumptions about the right way to
communicate. For example, think of your body
language; postures that indicate receptivity in
one culture might indicate aggressiveness in
communication occur because other people
are on the wrong track. Search for ways to
make the communication work, rather than
searching for who should receive the blame for
the breakdown.
Listen actively and empathetically. Try to put
yourself in the other persons shoes. Especially
when another persons perceptions or ideas
are different from your own, you might need
to operate at the edge of your comfort zone.
Respect others choices about whether to
engage in communication with you. Honour
their opinions about what is going on.
Stop, suspend judgement, and try to look at the
situation as an outsider.


Be prepared for a discussion of the past.

Use this as an opportunity to develop an
understanding from the others point of view,
rather than getting defensive or impatient.
Acknowledge historical events that have taken
place. Be open to learning more about them.
Honest acknowledgement of the mistreatment
and oppression that have taken place on the
basis of cultural difference is vital for effective
Awareness of current power imbalances and an openness to hearing each others
perceptions of those imbalances - is also
necessary for understanding each other and
working together.
Remember that cultural norms may not apply
to the behaviour of any particular individual.
We are all shaped by many, many factors - our
ethnic background, our family, our education,
our personalities - and are more complicated
than any cultural norm could suggest. Check
your interpretations if you are uncertain what
is meant.

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