What difference can I make?

Do you believe that one person has the ability to take action and create change? Make it Matter shares examples of kids who make a difference.

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Kids Run for Nature

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The World According to Us

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The Power of One

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Inspiration from Great Kids

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Make Change Happen

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Buddy Benches

Make a Difference


Make it Matter

What matters most to you? How can you be a participatory citizen? Explore stories of kids who make it matter.


Create your own ballot for classroom votes.

Inquiry Model

Use the inquiry model to keep you organized as you apply research, critical thinking and participation skills.

Plan It

Turn ideas into action to plan a project. Consider what you would change and the resources you will use.

Why does democracy need participation?

Participation in a democracy means taking advantage of the freedom to make choices and form opinions. With this freedom comes responsibilities. Democracy and Participation asks you to think about what it means to be a responsible citizen in a democracy.

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More about democracy

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What is democracy?

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Democracy Report Card

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A Provincial Election

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Build a Democracy

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What is everyday democracy?

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Know your basics

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What is a good citizen?

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Do you live in…?

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Representative or Direct?

  1. Eligibility to Vote


    In 1867, only 11% of Canada’s population was eligible to vote. Today, that percentage is over 68%, which includes almost every Canadian citizen aged 18 and over.

    Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada, Acc. No. 1991-35-6

  2. Private Voting


    By 1874, people could vote in private. Paper ballots and voting booths were used for the first time.

    Some believed that democratic elections could not happen without a secret ballot. Before 1874, voting took place out loud and in public. This made it possible to intimidate or bribe voters.

    Canadian elections still happen in much the same way they did after the secret ballot was adopted. A paper ballot is marked and put into a box. Online voting is used by some local governments, but not by provincial or federal governments.

    Photo Credit: City of Edmonton Archives EA-600-2581d

  3. Property Owners Vote


    In 1885, the first version of a federal Election Act was passed by the federal government. The right to vote was applied differently from one town and one province to the next. The right to vote was based on property ownership.

    A person had to own property that was worth a minimum value or pay a minimum amount in taxes or rent. These minimum values changed over different time periods. Therefore, people who had been able to vote before were suddenly not allowed.

    Photo Credit: City of Edmonton Archives EA-10-2740

  4. Alberta’s First Election


    At the time of Alberta’s first election, in 1905, only men could vote. Voters had to be British subjects and living in the Northwest Territories for a year. They voted by marking an X on a blank ballot, using a coloured pencil. The colour of the pencil identified the candidate a voter picked. About 25 000 Alberta males cast votes in this election. They elected 23 Liberals and two Conservatives to Alberta’s first legislature.

    Source: Kostek, M. The Alberta Provincial Parliament at McKay Avenue School. EPS Archives & Museum.

  5. Wartime Voting


    During World War I, the Wartimes Elections Act and the Military Voters Act gave all male and female members of the armed forces the right to vote in the 1917 federal election. This included First Nations peoples and those under the age of 21.

    This photo shows Canadian sisters voting at a Canadian hospital in France. Nurses and women in the armed services were given a temporary right to vote. The government also allowed women with husbands, sons or fathers fighting in the war to vote.

    Photo Credit: William Rider-Rider / Canada. Dept. of National Defence / Library and Archives Canada / PA-002279

  6. Women Vote


    In 1918, the Women’s Franchise Act was passed. Women who were British subjects and at least 21 years old could vote in federal elections. In 1919, women obtained the right to run as federal candidates. Women in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and British Columbia could already vote in provincial elections.

    Women in New Brunswick, Yukon, Prince Edward Island, Newfoundland and Labrador, Quebec and the Northwest Territories did not get the right to vote in provincial or territorial elections until after this date.

    Photo Credit: Glenbow Archives ND-3-626

  7. The Chief Electoral Officer


    In 1920, the position of Chief Electoral Officer of Canada was created. The Chief Electoral Officer was given the responsibility to make sure federal elections across Canada were run according to the laws of the time.

    The Chief Electoral Officer is appointed for 10 years and is completely independent of the government. He or she is responsible for the administration of elections, referendums and other important functions of the electoral system.

  8. First Nations


    In 1920, First Nations peoples were given the right to vote but they had to give up their treaty rights and status under the Indian Act. This photo shows a group of people from Treaty 9 who were present during 1929 band elections in Albany, Ontario.

    Photo Credit: Canada. Dept. of Indian Affairs and Northern Development / Library and Archives Canada / PA-094970

  9. The first woman representative


    In 1921, Agnes Macphail became the first woman elected as a representative to parliament. Agnes Macphail would be the only woman in the federal parliament for the next 14 years. She supported equal rights and equal pay for women and fought for the rights of groups that were often discriminated against, including miners, immigrants and prisoners.

    Photo Credit: Yousuf Karsh / Library and Archives Canada / C-021562

  10. Discrimination (Asian)


    In 1948, Canadians of Asian origin got the right to vote. Discriminatory views had prevented these Canadians from voting. In 1948, the federal government removed discrimination on the basis of race from election laws.

  11. Discrimination (Inuit)


    In 1950, Inuit people obtained the right to vote and the right to run as candidates in federal elections. It was not until 1962 that ballot boxes were placed in all Inuit communities in the eastern Arctic.

  12. Discrimination (Religious)


    In 1955, religious discrimination was removed from federal election laws. Before this time, people such as the Doukhobors, who objected to war, were not allowed to vote.

  13. First Nations Rights


    In 1960, First Nations people living on reserves were granted the right to vote and the right to run as candidates in federal elections without having to give up their status under the Indian Act. Before 1960, First Nations people could not keep their status under the Indian Act and still vote. In 1968, a First Nations representative was elected to the House of Commons. Len Marchand was elected as a Member of Parliament for the British Columbia constituency of Kamloops–Cariboo. More First Nations people have been elected since then

  14. Voting Age


    In 1970, the voting age was lowered from 21 to 18. Since that time, there have been efforts to lower the voting age to 16. Some Alberta municipalities are considering doing this for their local elections.

  15. Alberta’s Chief Electoral Officer


    The Office of the Chief Electoral Officer was created in 1977. This is called Elections Alberta. This office is independent from government. It oversees Alberta's elections. Before 1977, elections were overseen by the Clerk of the Legislative Assembly.

  16. Charter of Rights and Freedoms


    In 1982, the right to vote and the right to be a candidate in an election were guaranteed in the Constitution by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

    Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada, R11274-148

  17. Expanding Voting Rights


    In 1988, federally appointed judges and persons with intellectual disabilities obtained the right to vote in federal elections.

  18. Access to vote


    In 1992, special measures, such as blind voting templates, wheelchair access to polls and interpreters, were put into the Canada Elections Act to ensure access to vote for people with disabilities.

  19. Mail-in Ballots


    In 1993, a special, or mail-in, ballot was made available for citizens who were away on election day, on vacation or temporarily living outside of their electoral districts.

  20. Incarcerated Voting


    In 2002, following a ruling by the Supreme Court of Canada, voting rights were given to all inmates, for federal elections. This also occurred in Alberta, with inmates voting in the 2015 provincial election.

Democracy & Participation


How am I doing?

Use this checklist to reflect on and assess your own learning.

Messages About Democracy

What does democracy mean to you? Explore meanings and perspectives on democracy.

Direct or Representative?

Who really makes decisions in communities across Canada? Find out what representative and direct democracies are all about.

Development of Democracy

Did you know that democracy has a history? Learn from the stories, people and events that shaped democracy in Canada.

Why Participate?

Plan a project that explains why participation is important to democracy.

Get Informed

Organize and apply your research to your action project.

Why does provincial government matter?

Alberta is a representative democracy, just like the rest of Canada. The government is run by representatives who are elected by citizens to represent them and make decisions. Consider why Government Matters to every resident of Alberta.

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Courts of Justice

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Debating the Budget

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Summer Break

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School Legislature

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Cities and Municipalities

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Oil and Water

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Building Government

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Children’s Hospital

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How gov’t works

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Shared Responsibility

Government Matters


Responsibilities? Me?

What do you think of when you hear the word responsibility? Consider your responsibilities as a citizen.

Responsibilities of Provincial Government

What do you think of when you hear the word responsibility? Consider your responsibilities as a citizen.

Communicate and Implement

Plan how to communicate effectively to share your project goals and progress.

If I could vote, would I?

In a democracy, voting is the action that gives citizens their voice. Voting provides everyone with an equal say in who represents them. Think about why Voting and Elections have a direct impact on what government does.

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#Choose Your Alberta

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What voting looks like

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Why I didn’t vote

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Horse-drawn ballot boxes

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Then and Now

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Drop the Writ

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Electoral Divisions

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Ballots and Ballot Boxes

Voting and Elections

What do you know about voting in Canada and around the world? Are all elections equal? How have democratic processes originated and changed over time? Challenge yourself with this fast quiz. Hover over or touch each box to check your knowledge.


There are a number of countries around the world where the voting age is less than 18. In Brazil, the minimum voting age is 16. Voting is voluntary until you turn 18, and then it is compulsory. In Croatia, everyone gets to vote at 18, but if you are 16 and employed full-time, then you also have the right to vote.

True or False?

In some countries the voting age is less than 18.


India is the most populated democracy. Over 800 million people were eligible to vote in India’s 2014 national election. This election was the largest-ever election in the world. Just over 23 million voters were between the ages of 18 and 19.

True or False?

The United States is the world's most populated democracy.


It is illegal to destroy a ballot, according to the Canada Elections Act. It is also illegal to destroy a ballot used in a provincial election in Alberta.

Six members of the Edible Ballot Society, a protest group, were charged after the 2000 Canadian federal election for purposely destroying a ballot. The photograph shows the ballot slip used in the 1953 federal election. No one ate a ballot in this election!

True or False?

It is illegal to eat your ballot in a Canadian federal election.


The secret ballot that is widely used today in elections originated in Australia. One of the most common forms of secret ballot is a prepared ballot paper with checkboxes beside the names of all candidates.

New Brunswick was the first colony in British North America to use the secret ballot in 1855.

True or False?

The secret ballot originated in Australia in the 1850s and is sometimes called the Australian ballot.


The Greeks coined the term for democracy. Demos means “the people” and kratos means “to rule.” Together these terms create a definition for democracy – “ruled by the people.”

True or False?

The word "democracy" originated in ancient Rome.


In 1916, Manitoba became the first province to grant full voting privileges to women. By 1918, Canadian women could vote in federal elections. Women in Quebec did not get the right to vote in provincial elections until 1940. The Northwest Territories was the last territory to give women the right to vote in 1951.

True or False?

Quebec was the first Canadian province to allow women to vote.


There are many countries that have laws that require all citizens to vote. Some of the first countries with compulsory voting included Belgium, Argentina and Australia. Voter turnout in Australia has not dropped below 93% since the general election in 1955 (when it was approximately 88%).

True or False?

In some countries, voting is compulsory. If a person chooses not to vote, he or she can be fined, made to do community service, or given a prison sentence.


Members of the Senate are appointed, not elected. However, in Alberta, three senate nominee elections have been held since 1989. In 1990, Prime Minister Brian Mulroney appointed Stan Waters as the first elected Senator. In 2007, Bert Brown was appointed to the Senate by Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

True or False?

Alberta was the first province to hold an election for an Alberta representative to the Senate of Canada.

Voting & Elections


About Voting and Elections

Is voting the most important action a citizen takes to be politically involved? Find out how much you know about voting.

To Vote or Not to Vote

Why do people choose to vote or not to vote? Develop a survey to find out what others think and know about voting. Find out about Canada’s electoral process.

An Election Experience

Plan and implement a student election.

Plan for Action

Plan activities that best fit your action project goals and the resources you have available.

What matters most after an election?

What happens after an election? A government is formed. Elections Alberta reports on the election. What about you? What Matters asks you to think about how you can make a commitment and contribute as a citizen.

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Leave the Voting Age at 18

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Voting around the world

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Commit to vote

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Media and Elections

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Voting Ages

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Compulsory Voting

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Lowering the Voting Age

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Internet Voting

What Matters


What Matters

How can you participate as a citizen? Create a personal action plan.

Assess the Impact

Assess and reflect on the impact of your project.

How am I doing?

Use this checklist to reflect on and assess your contributions and participation.

Triple T-Chart

Use this graphic organizer to organize and compare ideas and information around three topics or categories.

Mind Map

Use this graphic organizer to brainstorm or organize information around a central idea or topic.

Flow Chart

Use this graphic organizer to organize information that is related to one or more main ideas in a sequence.


Use this graphic organizer to organize and compare ideas and information.

Persuasion Map

Use this graphic organizer to organize and explain a position.

Wheel Chart

Use this graphic organizer to organize and compare multiple perspectives, ideas and facts.


Use this graphic organizer to create a bookmark.

KWHL Chart

Use this graphic organizer to describe and reflect on your learning.

Trading Cards

Use this graphic organizer to create your own trading cards.


Use this graphic organizer to plan and create a story.


Use this graphic organizer to create a timeline with a sequence of events.