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Pivotal Voices

Adding other voices to the study of Canada

There can be no single story about an historical event, but rather differing accounts depending upon whose story is being told. In the spirit of bringing multiple perspectives to the teaching of Canadian history, we offer collections of resources that highlight the role and experiences of three groups: Ukrainian Canadians, Chinese Canadians and South Asian Canadians.

Ukrainian Canadians

With the support of the Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund, we have developed resources about Ukrainians in Canada, and in particular about the experiences arising from the government’s decision to intern Canadian citizens of Ukrainian and other European backgrounds on the suspicion that their ethnic identity posed a security threat to the country.

Collections of historical images and documents

As part of our History Docs collection, we have assembled seven sets of primary and secondary documents organized around key questions about Ukrainian Canadian experiences:

World War I internment        Ukrainian immigration
Daily life in WW I internment camps   Reasons for Ukrainian immigration pre-1914
Effects of WW I internment for Ukrainians   Conditions for early Ukrainian immigrants
Reasons for WW I internment    
WWI internment justified    
Ukrainian life after internment 1920-1946    


Videos for students

Two videos developed as part of our Thinking about History series use examples of the Ukrainian internment to teach key historical concepts.



Historical significance

Students learn to question why some important events are ignored as they compare the significance of the WWI internment of Ukrainian Canadians with the WWII internment of Japanese Canadians. (7:14 minutes)

Download the Grades 6-8 lesson plan

Download the Grades 9-12 lesson plan



Ethical judgment
Students learn to question the motives of the Canadian government’s decision to intern Ukrainian Canadians during the First World War. (6:33 minutes)

Download the Grades 6-8 lesson plan

Download the Grades 9-12 lesson plan


Linked resources

The Canadian First World War Internment Recognition Fund has assembled useful downloadable PDF resources on its website:

Affirmation of Witnesses
This richly illustrated document explores the causes and consequences of the internment, often through the eyes and words of the camp survivors and their families.

Canada’s First National Internment Operations, 1914-1920
This pamphlet, available in several languages, offers an illustrated overview of this historic event.


Student resource

Prisoners of Prejudice
This 27-page student resource with teacher's guide (CD with PowerPoint slides) provides background information about Ukrainian immigration to Canada and chronicles the internment of Ukrainians during World War I. Download the order form


Lesson plans

Download lesson plans that teach about the internment of Ukrainians and other Europeans during the First World War:

Creating memorials of past injustices
Lesson #1: Judging powerful memorials
Lesson #2: Deciding what to memorialize
Lesson #3: Designing the memorial


Chinese Canadians

Chinese Canadian Stories is a project that provides rich and diverse resources chronicling this community's history and experiences in Canada.

Collections of historical images and documents

As part of our History Docs collection, we have assembled eleven sets of primary and secondary source documents organized around key topics in the history of Chinese Canadians:

Causes of the 1907 anti-Asian riots   Reasons for the Head Tax
Government responses to the 1907 anti-Asian riots   Early Chinese contributions to BC
Chinese Canadian life on the railway   Chinese employment 1875-1945
Consequences of the Chinese Exclusion Act   Attitudes towards Chinese immigration
Chinese Canadian teenagers 1910-1947   Reactions to the Exclusion Act
WW II involvement improved status for Chinese Canadians    






Videos for students

Three videos developed as part of our Thinking about History series use Chinese Canadian experiences to teach historical thinking concepts:



Evidence and interpretation
Students learn to interpret and question the information available from primary sources to learn about Chinese Canadians. (6:55 minutes)

Download the Grades 6-8 lesson plan

Download the Grades 9-12 lesson plan



Continuity and change
Students learn to look for similarities and differences in Chinese Canadian life styles and conditions as they compare various periods. (6:19 minutes)

Download the Grades 6-8 lesson plan

Download the Grades 9-12 lesson plan



Historical perpsective
Students learn to imagine how life for Chinese Canadian youth growing up during the interwar period may not have been the same as the lives of youth today. (5:53 minutes)

Download the Grades 6-8 lesson plan

Download the Grades 9-12 lesson plan


Interactive games

Two online games provide students with opportunities to engage with the lives of Chinese Canadians.

Gold Mountain Quest is an interactive game designed for grades 5 to 7 that enables players to experience life as a Chinese Canadian youth in 1910 in the fictional town of Gold Mountain.

Pages from the Past is an interactive game that focuses on historical perspective through the values and life choices of four fictional Chinese characters from the 1850s to the 1940s. Students earn rewards by offering sound advice that is respectful of the historical realities and personal aspirations of each character.


Linked resources

The following resources can be found on the Chinese Canadian Stories project website.

This rich multi-media collection tells the stories of Chinese Canadians through words, photographs and video clips.

This timeline reviews the history of Chinese migration, segregation, integration and contributions to Canada from 1788 to 2012.

Chinese Canadian Stories Videos
The videos in this collection portray diverse life experiences of Chinese Canadians, both past and present.


South Asian Canadians

A pivotal experience of the South Asian community in Canada involves the Komagata Maru incident. In 1914, the Canadian government denied entry to South Asian passengers on this steamship. Their perseverance is symbolic of the community's journey into Canadian society.

Simon Fraser University has developed the website Komagata Maru: Continuing the Journey with primary documents, background information, interactive tools and lesson plans to explore Canadian history through the eyes of the South Asian community.

Video interviews
Listen to adult and youth members of the South Asian community, as well as scholars, as they recount the influence of the Komagata Maru on their lives.

Oral histories

Listen to the voices of the past though these unique oral histories from Simon Fraser University’s Kohaly Collection and Indo Canadian Oral History Collection.

Image archive
View the South Asian community through the lens of historical photographs and political cartoons printed in newspapers from the past.

Passenger list
Explore the biographies and trace the histories of individual passengers on the Komagata Maru.

Interactive timeline
Use an interactive timeline to trace the development of the South Asian community.

Lesson plans
Download lessons plans that draw upon an array of historical materials to explore issues affecting South Asians in Canada:

  • Exploring the historical context of the Komagata Maru incident
  • Decoding media representations of South Asians
  • Judging turning points in South Asian history
  • Judging the appropriateness of government response to injustice
  • Historical perspective taking with respect to the Komagata Maru





From our Online shop

Recognizing an Historic Injustice: Canada's First National Internment Operations, 1914-1920

This unit contains nine lessons intended for students in grades 9 to 12 exploring the events, causes and consequences of the internment of thousands of individuals in Canada during the First World war era.

Available free for download.

Educators wishing a print copy may order one through our online shop, simply for the cost of shipping.

Contact Liz Coulson to arrange for a TC² facilitator to introduce the free resource to a group of teachers or teacher candidates.

Exploring Identity, Inclusion and Citizenship: The 1907 Vancouver Riots

This print resource, available in our online shop, chronicles the lead up to, details and aftermath of riots in Vancouver at the turn of the twentieth century.

Exploring Identity, Inclusion and Citizenship: Supplementary Documents

This package of 30 print images and documents, available in our online shop, offers glimpses of the state of social, political and economic inclusion in western Canada at the turn of the twentieth century.

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