Does everyone have the same opportunity to participate?

What does it mean to be a citizen? Do all citizens have the same rights? Opportunities? Responsibilities? Choose to Participate shares examples of young people who take opportunities to participate and make a difference.

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You can create change

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Democracy talks

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Making it pink

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Breaking down barriers

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Stand up. Stand now.

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The World According to Us

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The Power of One

  1. Laws restricting child labour


    Children often started working from the age of 7, spending 12 to 18 hours a day, 6 days a week, in factories and mines. It was not until the late 1800s that laws started to pass restricting child labour in Canada. By the early 1900s, most provinces passed labour laws that limited the employment of children. By 1929, children under 14 could not work in factories or mines in most provinces.

    Photo Credit: National Archives of Canada, C-86484

  2. Confederation


    The British North America Act, 1867 (BNA Act) was passed by the British Parliament. It is the law that created the Canadian Confederation and divided powers between the federal and provincial levels of government. This gave the provinces the right to make their own laws in specific areas. When the Constitution Act of 1982 was passed, the BNA Act became part of it and was renamed the Constitution Act, 1867.

    Photo Credit: Miscellaneous / Library and Archives Canada / PA-022400

  3. A provisional government


    When vast amounts of land were transferred to the new nation of Canada, Red River Colony farmers and hunters, many of them Métis, were concerned about retaining their culture and land rights. The Métis provisional government was formed, headed by Métis leader Louis Riel, to protect land titles and rights.

    Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada / PA-012854

  4. Aboriginal potlatches


    In 1884, indigenous potlatches were made illegal under the Indian Act. This ban was not repealed until 1951.

    Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada/PA-74038

  5. Chinese Immigration Act


    In 1885, the government passed the Chinese Immigration Act, which established a head tax of $50 on every Chinese person entering Canada. In 1903, this was increased to $500.

    Photo Credit: Edouard Deville / Library and Archives Canada / C-021990

  6. Labour laws


    In 1914, the Supreme Court of Canada upheld a Saskatchewan law that prohibited Chinese businesses from hiring white women. Ontario passed a law forbidding “Oriental” persons from employing white females.

    Photo Credit: John Boyd / Library and Archives Canada / PA-087962

  7. Bilingual instruction


    In 1916, the Manitoba Government abolished bilingual instruction. Not until 1963 was French language instruction officially authorized in all grades in Manitoba.

    Photo Credit: Canada. Dept. of Mines and Resources / Library and Archives Canada / C-002074

  8. Excluding minorities from voting


    In 1917, the Wartimes Elections Act excluded some minorities, including Ukrainians and Germans, from voting. The Wartimes Elections Act was passed in 1917 during World War I. The Act was controversial, as Prime Minister Bordan introduced it to increase pro-conscription voters. This same Act gave women who were relatives of Canadian soldiers serving overseas the right to vote.

    The photo shows an anti-conscription rally in Montreal, Quebec in 1917.

    Photo Credit: Library and Archives Canada / C-006859

  9. 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

  10. First Nations land claims


    In 1927, the Indian Act was amended to make it illegal for First Nations to raise money or hire a lawyer for land claims, therefore blocking effective political court action.

    The photo shows Lieutenant Governor Robert Brett in about 1920. He is standing and talking with First Nations men, including Standing-on-the-Road, Joe Sampson and Pany Ermineskin.

    Photo Credit: City of Edmonton Archives EA-160-167

  11. Wartime rights


    During World War II from 1939 to 1945, Canada restricted immigration of Jewish refugees, despite the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany. Canada accepted fewer than 5 000 Jews from 1933 to 1945. In 1939, a ship carrying 1 000 Jewish refugees was refused entry and forced to return to Germany. Under the War Measures Act, over 600 Italians as well as over 800 Germans and Austrians were sent to work camps as enemy aliens in 23 camps across the country.

    Photo Credit: Marcell Seidler / Library and Archives Canada / PA-143485

  12. Bill of Rights


    The Canadian Bill of Rights was passed in 1960 and was the first federal human rights law in Canada. It guaranteed many basic rights and freedoms, including the “right of the individual to life, liberty, security of the person and enjoyment of property.”

    Photo Credit: Duncan Cameron / Library and Archives Canada / PA-112659

  13. 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

Choose to Participate


Make It Matter

Does everyone have the same opportunities to participate? Consider how opportunity and rights have influenced the actions of individuals.


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.

Do we live in a democracy?

What does it mean to be a citizen? Do all citizens have the same rights? Opportunities? Responsibilities? Living in a Democracy asks you to consider the meanings and impact of democracy and citizenship.

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The Great Flag Debate

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How democracy works

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Canadians on citizenship

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Day of Democracy

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Part of a democracy

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Student march

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Canadian Constitution

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Living in a Democracy


Democracy Enacted

What does democracy mean to you? Explore some background information about democracy and citizenship in Canada.

Government and Democracy

Consider what it means to live in a democracy and the impact you have on each level of government.

Get Informed

Organize and apply your research to your action project.

How am I doing?

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

How do our votes influence government decision-making?

The electoral process is affected by voter attitudes, economic conditions and current issues. Voter Influence asks you to consider the influences on government decision-making.

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Citizenship has a history

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A balancing act

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Citizen’s initiative

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Voter fraud

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Creating pressure

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Direct engagement

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Election issues

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After an election

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Public demands

Voter Influence


Opportunities and Rights

Do rights protect our opportunities to participate in a democracy? Compare the rights of citizens with responsibilities.

Political and Economic Decision-Making

What factors influence the choices voters make? How do voters influence the decisions of government? Explore an issue and consider the impact of voter perspectives on government actions.

Communicate and Implement

Organize and apply your research to your action project.

What do you mean, our votes don’t count?

The right to vote has evolved with other human rights. Counting Votes explores and questions the values and processes associated with living in a democracy.

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First Nations Elections Act

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US vs Canada

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Voter identification

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Preparing to vote

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Your plan to vote

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Counting Votes

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Voting Options

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Voting To Go

Counting Votes

People have not always had the same opportunities to participate in decision-making, including the right to vote. Click on each photo to find out how some political rights evolved.

Discrimination under the law

Supreme Court of Canada

First Nations

The Persons Case of 1929

Discimination legislation

Rights to vote

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

First Nations rights

Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The right to vote

Access to vote

Voting for inmates

Counting Votes


Times Change

Do you think that Canadians take their rights for granted? Find out about the evolution of the right to vote and legislation that was enacted to protect and ensure equity under the law.

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.

Why should we be more involved?

The issue of voter participation is one that continues to be discussed, whether it is an election year or not. Participation Matters encourages you to explore why voting is important to a democracy.

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Promoting the vote

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Student Vote

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Make a commitment

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Leave the Voting Age at 18

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Voting around the world

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#Choose Your Alberta

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Why I didn’t vote

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Voting Ages

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Compulsory Voting

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Lowering the Voting Age

Participation Matters


Why Participate

A democratic society is based on the belief that all citizens have a voice in decision-making. Why do citizens choose to, or not to, participate?

Make a Commitment

How can citizens be encouraged to actively participate? Create a campaign to encourage active and engaged citizens.

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.


Use this graphic organizer to compare and analyze a range of perspectives or opinions.

Retrieval Chart

Use this graphic organizer to collect, organize and compare information from different sources.

Sphere of Influence

Use this graphic organizer to analyze the influence of people or events.

Money Cards

Use these cards in the campaign finance simulation.

Cause and Effect Timeline

Use this graphic organizer to create a timeline that analyzes the sequence and cause/effect of events.

Cause and Effect Chart

Use this graphic organizer to identify, compare and assess different effects of an event or person.


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

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.