Activity 4

If I was the Prime Minister

Synopsis

Students will critically discuss the current state of Indigenous life in Canada, identifying both positive and negative factors contributing to the situation experienced by many Indigenous people in both rural and urban communities. Students will imagine themselves in the role of Prime Minister of Canada and, based on their own perspectives, identify the things they believe should be changed in the future.

Students will focus on:

  • various historical events they believe most contributed to the present situation including the Indian Act, ‘special’ legal Indian status, establishment of reserve lands, and Indian residential schools
  • it is vital to consider not all Indigenous peoples are faced with the same challenges
  • current activities towards ‘decolonization’ such as self-government
  • preservation of unique Indigenous languages
  • recognition of Indigenous history, unique customs and protocol that are now mandatory in the new public school curriculum in BC.

In their role as Prime Minister, students will develop their own ideas about what could be done in terms of rules, policies, laws, and programs to restore the cultural integrity of Indigenous identity and community life while moving forward collaboratively with non-Indigenous communities.

 Material Needed

Class set of I-Pads and projector to show student recommendations for change.

 First Task

As a class, students will critically review the story presentation of Qwalena and what it symbolizes. Identify the main themes highlighted by this performance, and discuss how forcible attendance at residential schools affected Indigenous people. Explore the affects, both positive and negative, it has had on Indigenous identity and community life in Canada.

Second Task

Based on their own perspectives, students will identify what they believe are the main challenges for some Indigenous people in Canada today and list these in their order of importance.

Third Task

Using their own thoughts and understanding each student will answer the question “If I was Prime Minister of Canada I would help find solutions to the challenges faced by Indigenous people by…”.  Students will make a list of initiatives or ‘solutions’ they believe could help overcome challenges for some Indigenous people today, either as individuals and/or communities while carefully considering that not all Indigenous people face the same challenges.

This task can also be completed by working in groups 2 or 3, where students pool together their “best” ideas.

Fourth Task

Assuming the role of Prime Minister, students will present their ideas (as individuals or in groups) to the class as a whole, explaining how and why their ideas will help resolve the specific problems they identified. After presenting their ideas, students will host a ‘question and answer’ discussion allowing their classmates to participate.

Educator Outcomes

Students will learn to generate forward-looking initiatives to address the issues of today’s world, complete with specific actions that could be put into practice to resolve problems. In a role with great authority (such as Prime Minister), students will experience the personal responsibility of holding power that deeply affects the lives of other people. Working in groups, students will learn how to collaborate with others around them to build creative solutions for the problems people face, as well explain/defend their ideas in ways that others are enable to understand. The overall result is that students will begin to acquire the kind of training and insight required to become better citizens.