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Ethnocultural diversity

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Students will examine historical sources to discover how Canada became the culturally diverse nation it is today. In the first activity, the class will create a concept map of the elements of culture and discuss how the ethnocultural groups that make up Canada's cultural mosaic have changed our country and made an impact on Canada and the global community. In the second activity, students will each research a significant individual and create a poster to celebrate Canada's multiculturalism.


  • To locate relevant information using historical documents.
  • To analyse, classify and interpret information from historical documents.
  • To read a variety of graphs, charts and tables for specific purposes.
  • To scan written text for specific information.
  • To make inferences and draw conclusions.
  • To communicate information and understanding using a concept map and poster.
  • To use vocabulary specific to the topic and theme.
  • To demonstrate an understanding of some of the factors that influenced the growth of Canada's cultural mosaic.
  • To recognize and learn about how individuals from a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds have made an impact in Canada and the world.

Suggested grade level and subject areas

Social Studies, History, Language


5 minutes for introduction
50 to 60 minutes for Part A
50 to 60 minutes for each of two sessions for Part B

Vocabulary (as used in the context of this lesson)

Cultural mosaic – term that describes a country or other area in which different cultural groups within the society are allowed to retain and celebrate their cultures.
Culture – values, norms and artefacts. Values include beliefs about important things in life and form the basis for the rest of the culture. Norms are expectations about how people will behave in various situations. Artefacts are the things that people in a culture use.
Ethnic group – a group of people with a shared sense of identity based on a common language, religion and customs.
Ethnocultural group – a group of people with a shared sense of identity based on their common heritage, history, language, religious beliefs and values. This is different from some other kinds of cultural groups, such as people who identify themselves as belonging to a religious culture, a sport culture or a teen culture.
Emigration – leaving one country or region to settle in another.
Eskimo – a member of the First Nations people inhabiting Northern Canada, Alaska, Greenland and Eastern Siberia. In Canada, this word has been replaced by 'Inuit.' The term 'Eskimo' is used in early Statistics Canada datasets.
Immigration – entering a country or region to settle in it.
Indian – a member of the First Nation peoples of North (and South) America. This word is largely replaced today by the term 'First Nation' or 'Aboriginal.'
Melting pot – a place where races and ethnic groups are mixed together.
Migration – the movement of people from one country or region to another for the purpose of settlement.
Multiculturalism – the presence of distinct cultural identities within a larger cultural group.
Negro – a member of the dark-skinned group of humans of African origin. Negro means 'black' in Spanish and Portuguese. This term is now usually considered offensive and has been replaced by 'Black.' The term 'negro' is used in early Statistics Canada datasets.
Trend – a general tendency or pattern.
Visible minority – a population group whose members are recognizably distinct from those of the population group that is in the majority.


Canada Year Book resources

1947 (PDF)

1967 (PDF)

Classroom instructions

  1. Present the following outline to the class:
    1. We are going to examine statistics from two different editions of the Canada Year Book to discover which ethnic groups lived in Canada before 1967.
    2. We will analyse the charts we make to determine what patterns or trends we can discover to show us how Canada became the culturally diverse nation it is today.
    3. In Part A, we are going to discuss how individuals from different ethnocultural backgrounds have contributed to Canada’s unique cultural mosaic.
    4. In Part B, we will create a cultural mosaic gallery for our classroom by having each person in the class research and present a unique individual who has made a significant impact in Canada or around the world.
  2. Part A
    1. Have the students familiarize themselves with the new vocabulary.
    2. Create a list with the words and their definitions so that students can refer back to it throughout the lesson.
    3. Hand out Student worksheet 1 and have the students fill in the blanks using Canada Year Book 1947, pages 117 and 118, and Canada Year Book 1967, page 197. Have students use subtraction for the row "Other European origin" and addition to for the row "Other or not stated." This activity can be completed individually or in groups.
    4. Have students use Student worksheet 2 to record any trends or patterns they have discovered as Canada became a culturally diverse nation.
    5. Review Evaluation rubric 1.
    6. Using the overhead transparency of Student worksheet 2, have students share the trends they have discovered about the development of Canada as a multicultural nation.
  3. Part B
    1. With input from the class, draw a concept map on the board that includes all the things that make up Canadian culture, including languages, education, music, art, sports, literature, dance, politics, science and technology.
    2. Review the meanings of 'cultural mosaic' and 'visible minority.' You might want to compare Canada's cultural mosaic with the 'melting pot' of the United States. Brainstorm with the class (or have small groups brainstorm and then report back to the whole class) suggestions about how Canada's cultural mosaic has created a unique culture in Canada and how individuals from the different ethnic groups, including visible minorities, have made an impact. You might want to point out that there are over 200 different ethnocultural groups in Canada today.
    3. Hand out Student worksheet 3. Discuss why the individuals already in the chart are significant. Have students discuss the chart with their family and friends and fill it in with individuals who have changed Canada from as many different ethnic groups as possible. Discuss appropriate definitions of 'prominent' and qualities students might want to celebrate. Encourage the class to select an array of individuals across the spectrum of accomplishments and over time—not just this year's musicians, actors, politicians or athletes, but a mix from the present and past.
    4. Using an overhead transparency of Student Worksheet 3, fill the chart with the students' choices.
    5. Have each student pick an individual from the list and create research questions using the 5 Ws (who, what, when, where and why) and how. Direct them to research tools such as the online Canadian Encyclopedia or Library and Archives Canada to collect information and photos (if possible) of their individuals. Their final product should be a poster that includes a photo or an original sketch and a written text about the individual that includes why the individual is a significant Canadian.
    6. Review Student worksheet 4 and Evaluation rubric 2 with the students.
    7. After evaluating the finished products, have the students make any revisions needed and put them on display on a classroom or hallway bulletin board.


In Part A, students can produce a bar graph or line graph for one of the ethnic groups showing their arrival in Canada, using data from Canada Year Book 1947, page 117 and 118, and Canada Year Book 1967, page 197.

Students can also research particular ethnocultural groups and their populations and locations at present, and note trends and developments in that group’s presence and history in Canada.