Project Based Learning: How has Immigration Shaped Canada?


by Tanya Lee, Middle School teacher

On October 6th, the Grade 6 classes took part in a panel discussion as part of their Humanities classes. The panel consisted of four parents who were immigrants to Canada. Students asked the members of the panel some excellent questions with regards to the push and pull factors that brought them to Canada and the hardships they have faced since their arrival. Grade 6 students are currently studying Canadian culture. We are about to begin a project-based learning unit that aims to answer the question, “How have immigrants shaped Canadian culture?” The panel discussion was our launch event for the unit. Students will not only be digging deeply into how immigrants have impacted our nation but they will also be writing short stories from the perspective of an immigrant on their way to Canada.

Reflections from Students

by Amalia
I really enjoyed the discussion with the panel of parents. I think that I learned a lot from them and that hearing about immigration from that point of view was really interesting, especially because it showed us how feelings can be mixed about immigration. It also gave me lots of ideas for my immigration narrative.

One thing that I learned from the panel was that immigrating is not always a choice, for different reasons. For example, Ms. Miller was 13 and had to leave South Africa because of war. She had to leave one of her sisters and brother behind, and had no choice in the matter. It made me think of how lucky we are not to live in a war-torn place and it made me think of immigrants as very strong people for stepping outside of what they know.

I think that listening to the panel of immigrants will make it much easier to write my narrative because now I have some general points of view that I can follow in my story, like being nervous about the new life you are entering, and others like Mrs. Herrman’s, to whom the whole thing was an adventure. I think that we were very lucky to have Mrs. Large with us, having just immigrated with her family to Victoria two months ago, because that gave us a really good “first impression” point of view.

If we had had more time for questions, I would have loved to ask: What were the second thoughts, the reasons to be wary of our country and what made you put those aside? I’d ask that because I think that when moving to a new place, there are some drawbacks and cautions to take.

by Scott
Yesterday, we took part in a panel composed of four parents that have immigrated from countries around the world. I found the panel very interesting and even though I have known some of these parents since I was in kindergarten it was nice to learn more about their immigration stories.

Before I heard these stories I thought that immigrating to Canada and adjusting to our cultural norms would be the easiest thing in the world, but evidently it would still be quite hard when you are used to other things. I think that this panel will help me write my narrative because it will help me understand that some people don’t have a push factor, some people didn’t want to leave their country, and (now that I think about it) sometimes it’s not for their own good.

If we had more time I would have asked the panel this question: Do you regret making the immigration journey or are you glad you did?

by Sienna
I really enjoyed the Immigration Panel discussion that my Humanities class participated in yesterday. Four parents from South Africa, Norway and the UK came to talk to us.

I thought that it was really fun to not only get to know them but also to find out what life in their home country was like and how different it was from Canada. It was really interesting for me because my dad is Australian. I never really thought of him as an immigrant but I think that the panel changed my view of an immigrant’s perspective. I think that being able to talk to immigrants will help for our narrative story because now I know some feelings that my character might feel.

I wish there was more time so I could ask what the biggest thing that they had to leave behind was. Overall I thought it was really fun and a great learning experience.


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