Category : History
Guiding Questions: How has immigration shaped the Canadian musical and cultural landscape? What contributions have artists from other countries made to Canadian culture and identity?
This lesson invites students to reflect on the impacts of immigration on Canada’s musical and cultural landscape. It asks students to analyse the historical significance of artists who have immigrated to Canada and the influences they bring from their countries of origin. The timing, content, and delivery of the following lesson should be shaped according to your timetable, class length, and age of participants. Please make adjustments, edits, and/or additions as you and your students see fit.
Materials: Computers, projector, whiteboard, speakers, handouts
- Distribute a world map (see Handout 1 below). Ask students to locate three or four of their favourite musical artists on the map, using smartphones or other devices if and as necessary. Instruct students to mark each artist’s country of origin as well as any migrations to other countries using lines and arrows.
- Invite students to compare their maps in pairs or small groups. If possible, project a world map on a Smart or whiteboard and invite students to populate it with their selections. What similarities/differences and patterns do they notice? Discuss.
- If applicable, draw attention to the lines and arrows. Remind students that as well as representing physical ebbs and flows of migration, the lines and arrows represent flows of ideas, cultural traditions, musical influences, etc.
- Define the term diaspora. According to Vocabulary.com, A diaspora is a large group of people with a similar heritage or homeland who have since moved out to places all over the world.
The term diaspora comes from an ancient Greek word meaning "to scatter about." And that's exactly what the people of a diaspora do — they scatter from their homeland to places across the globe, spreading their culture as they go. The Bible refers to the Diaspora of Jews exiled from Israel by the Babylonians. But the word is now also used more generally to describe any large migration of refugees, language, or culture. (https://www.vocabulary.com/dictionary/diaspora)
- Play Lillian Allen’s “Revolutionary Tea Party” without providing any commentary. Invite students to write descriptive words in their notebooks as they listen. Encourage students to share their reactions and impressions with a partner.
- Without revealing Allen’s identity, ask students where they would locate the song/artist on the global map. Why?
- Inform students that the song they heard belongs to Lillian Allen, a Jamaican-Canadian dub poet and reggae musician. If possible, project the Sounds Like Toronto artist profile and share additional media to contextualize Allen’s life and work. Inform students that they will be using the Sounds Like Toronto website to learn more about Allen’s cultural contributions, as well as the contributions made by other artists of the African and Caribbean diaspora, including Jackie Mittoo, K’Naan, and Michie Mee.
- Direct students to the Sounds Like Toronto website to conduct their investigation. They may use Handout 2 as a guide, noting each artist’s country of origin, their musical styles and influences, and their significant contributions to Canadian culture. Using this information, students can add to the maps they began in the warm-up activity and reflect on the extent to which each artist has impacted Canada’s cultural landscape and national identity. This activity can be completed individually, in pairs or small groups, or as a jigsaw with members of each small group responsible for researching and reporting on one artist.
- Invite students to share their most interesting or surprising findings with the class.
Working individually or in pairs, students will design a commemorative coin or bill featuring one of the artists they learned about. The coin/bill should include symbols and imagery that represent their countries and cultures of origin as well as the contributions made to Canadian society and culture. Each coin/bill should be accompanied by a short write-up that describes the featured artist and explains the symbols and imagery used.
Students may use their findings to craft a formal research report, using appropriate citations and consulting additional sources as needed.
This lesson may be formally or informally assessed. Teachers may adapt the following rubric to assess the mock board meeting and/or position papers. Teachers may also invite students to help generate assessment criteria.
Sample Rubric Criteria for Research Reports (ranked on a 1-4 scale)
Knowledge: Describes the contributions of individuals from various ethnic groups, including the specific ethnic group under study, to their own communities and to the development of culture and identity in Canada
Thinking: Uses the concepts of historical thinking (i.e., historical significance, cause and consequence, continuity and change, and historical perspective) when analysing, evaluating evidence about, and formulating conclusions and/or judgements regarding historical issues, events, and/or developments in Canadian history
Interprets and analyses evidence and information relevant to their investigations, using various tools, strategies, and approaches appropriate for historical inquiry
Communication: Communicates their ideas, arguments, and conclusions using various formats and styles, as appropriate for the audience and purpose
Application: Selects and organizes relevant evidence and information on aspects of the history of the selected ethnic group from a variety of primary and secondary sources
We have listed CHE3O curriculum expectations below; however this work could easily be adapted for other grades and/or subjects.
A1. Historical Inquiry: use the historical inquiry process and the concepts of historical thinking when investigating the history of the selected ethnic group
A1.2 select and organize relevant evidence and information on aspects of the history of the selected ethnic group from a variety of primary and secondary sources
A1.4 interpret and analyse evidence and information relevant to their investigations, using various tools, strategies, and approaches appropriate for historical inquiry
A1.6 evaluate and synthesize their findings to formulate conclusions and/or make informed judgements or predictions about the issues, events, and/or developments
A1.7 communicate their ideas, arguments, and conclusions using various formats and styles, as appropriate for the audience and purpose
B3. Culture and Identity: analyse ways in which various factors contributed to the development of culture and identity in the selected ethnic group in its country or region of origin
B3.1 analyse key aspects of the historical development of the arts within this ethnic group’s country or region of origin and how they contributed to the development of identity in this group (e.g., with reference to visual arts, music, dance, literature, architecture, clothing)
D3. Contributing to Canada: explain various ways in which ethnic groups, including the selected ethnic group, have contributed to Canada
D3.1 describe the contributions of individuals from various ethnic groups, including the specific ethnic group under study, to their own communities and to the development of culture and identity in Canada
D3.2 describe various ways in which ethnic groups have contributed to culture and identity in Canada
Handout 1: Mapping Musical Migrations
Mark your favourite musical artists’ countries of origin. Use lines and arrows to indicate any migration patterns. Use a different colour to map the artists you learned about on the Sounds Like Toronto website.
Handout 2: Mapping Artistic Legacies
Consult the Sounds Like Toronto website to complete the following chart.
Country of Origin
Significant Contributions to Canada’s music scene
What musical styles, traditions, practices, and/or influences did they draw from?
How/why/to what extent did they shape or influence Canadian culture/identity?