Unit 6 Living Together in Today's World

Overview Our Canada: Exploring Canadian Values

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Ask yourself:

  • How has a Canadian national identity developed, based on the differences found in diverse personal and group identities?
  • How can Canada respect the differences in creed – religious, faith-based and spiritual practices – but at the same time promote human rights for all and create social inclusion that best serves the interests of all Canadians?
  • How does your personal identity connect to your sense of belonging to a group?
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Key Concept

This Venn diagram is a good way to think about the relationship between the “public” and the “private” in our democracy

Exploring Canadian Values

In many ways Canada has set the standard for a global world. Although there are notable gaps, we have, throughout our history, done our best to make diversity work.

Co-operation among Aboriginal Peoples and between Aboriginal Peoples, English and French, Europeans, and the influx of immigrants from all continents representing ethnic, linguistic, religious, and cultural diversities, has shaped who we are.

We are not perfect, but we strive to make our democracy work. Among the publications produced or sponsored by the Canadian government for both citizens and newcomers, who together make up the diverse communities within Canada, are:

Our Canada is designed to make connections between important aspects of Canadian life. These aspects include the following:

An important question persists: “How much diversity should a society accept?”

In the 2014 Massey Lectures, Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship, Adrienne Clarkson suggests:

Democracies try to strike a balance between our private lives and our public ones: recognizing the power we show when we work together on common goals. Laissez Faire systems are too libertarian to support a common welfare; authoritarian systems are too quick to squeeze the creativity and innovation out of private endeavors.

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Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship

This 2014 CBC Massy Lectures series explores:

  • What does it mean to belong?
  • And how do we belong?
  • Who do we belong to?

Source: CBC

Here are the facts

The Report on Canadian Values is a survey of over 2,000 people and their perspectives on multiculturalism and religious accommodation.

  • Based on a list of 10 values identified through expert consultation, Canadians most often ranked as first, “respect for human rights and freedoms”.
  • Canadians most often view civility (politeness, common ground, mutual respect) as a primary responsibility of being a Canadian citizen.
  • Canadians most often identify multiculturalism as “coexistence of different cultures in one society/community”.
  • The strongest point of agreement is that multiculturalism “permits me to preserve my origins” and “has a positive impact on ethnic and religious minorities”.

Our Canada Report on Canadian Values

Action 1


Identity is, essentially, a set of distinct characteristics or factors that make each of us unique in who we are. We each have many characteristics and factors that influence our attitudes and decisions, depending on circumstances and situation, based on occupation, ethnicity, age, gender, culture, traditions, etc. There is often a tension among the various identities we have.

Some identities are chosen and some are not; some can change, some cannot. Some factors, for example, that can’t be chosen or changed include, when and where you’re born, who your parents are, what your mother tongue is, as well as factors that come built in with your DNA, that is, those that you’re born with, such as the natural colour of your skin, hair and eyes. Other aspects of your identity are personally selected: your profession, the food you eat, where you live, the music and art you like, your political ideology.

Personal identity characteristics and factors may include:

  • Age
  • Creed, religion faith or spirituality (if any)
  • Culture and traditions
  • Gender
  • Language (especially mother tongue)
  • Marital status
  • Nationality or immigration status
  • Neighborhood
  • Political ideology
  • Professional status
  • Size

The list of possible factors for each human being is almost infinite.

Identity is a concept that can be used by a person both in the singular and in the plural. In the singular, one can say, “My identity is …”. The best way to think of identity in the singular is through your own individual name, or those distinct characteristics and factors that combine to make you unique and different from everyone else.

But these characteristics can also be shared amongst some, or many people, and make us recognizable as part of a group. The terms “we” or “our” can be used to refer to a group of people that share one identity or another. The “we” may refer to our family, our national identity or our gender. In the plural, one might say, “we are Canadian.” So what characteristics and factors make us part of the group recognized as “Canadian”?

It should be noted that some identities that are seen as normative, carry privileges and therefore, power. It is important to be aware of these power dynamics and the implications that come along with both being part of the majority group as well as what it means to belong to the minority group. This is why an understanding of, and openness to, different identities is important. When no such awareness exists, constant identity tensions can arise, transmitted from one generation to another, and these tensions can easily turn into conflicts. Openness and respect for differences, as well as practicing identity inclusion, are essential for social harmony and the greater possibilities of social justice, because then and only then can a society become genuinely harmonious and peaceful.

– Adapted from Our Canada Handbook


Who are you?
  1. Review the list of personal identity characteristics below.
  2. Based on how these have an impact on who you are – place a mark along the spectrum line, according to how significant it is in your life.
  3. Include other personal identity characteristics that are meaningful to you.


Who I am
  • What personal identity characteristics most influence your individual identity?
  • What personal identity characteristics most influence the identity that you share with a group or groups?


This is me

Learn about your classmates, their interests and the interests you have in common. While retaining what is unique about you, it is helpful to emphasize common and broader shared interests and ideas rather than narrower dividing ones.

  1. List ten things about you.
  2. Compare your interests with others.
  3. If you share an interest with one other person, put his/her name in column 2.
  4. If you share an interest with two other people, add the second person’s name to column 3.
  5. If you share an interest with more than two people, add their name(s) to column 4.

  1 2 3 4
  Ten things about meShared with one personShared with two peopleShared with more than two people


Who are we?

Every personal identity factor can also be considered a group identity.

  • Compare charts with your classmates and discuss the identity factors that appear to be shared most often.


Express who you are
  1. Choose one of the activities below to express your sense of identity and identities.
    • A. Soundtrack of your life Make an audio track, or compilation, of ten songs that say something important about you. Write a brief description of each song explaining why you chose it.

    • B. Aspiration collage Using images and words from magazines, newspapers and the Internet, make a collage that expresses the kind of person you aspire to be. Write a description of the items you included and what they represent.

    • C. Spoken word or rap Write a spoken word or rap that expresses various aspects of your identity and record it. Include how you would distribute your piece.

    • D. Personal logo Design a logo or symbol that represents who you are. Write a brief description of your logo and how it represents you. Include how you would use it or where you might place your logo.

  2. Post a link to your soundtrack, playlist, spoken word or rap, or a photo of your collage or personal logo on Twitter and/or Instagram, using the hashtag: #VoicesIntoAction.
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DO: Take the Video Challenge!

The Our Canada Youth Challenge is for middle and high school students interested in having their writing published or video promoted.

For details, see Action 7.

For more information on the Our Canada Youth Challenge, visit

Action 2


"The whole of the world, the history of the world, is a history of belonging," says Jean Vanier, a prominent Canadian philosopher, theologian and humanitarian.

Vanier maintains that the desire to belong is a deep psychological drive, that it is part of human nature to need to engage in relationships where we are valued and accepted by others. An individual’s sense of “belonging” refers to how someone locates him/herself within a physical space or within human society, and influences how people relationally connect to one another.

The challenge for all human beings is to balance those identities we share with others, along with those that are important to whom we define ourselves to be as individuals, so that we can establish a common ground to foster harmonious human relations in working towards shared objectives.

Being part of a group awards an individual not only a sense of belonging, but also a sense of security and emotional support. Belonging to a group is also an opportunity for people to expand their horizons and learn from other people, as well as share parts of ourselves and our skills and knowledge with others.

The opposite of belonging is exclusion. It means certain individuals could experience social disadvantage based on the group(s) of which they are perceived to be a part.

For people who relocate to a new place, leaving behind their traditional “group”, the question of belonging is critical to their success and ability to integrate into their new home and society. Canadian society needs to work towards creating an inclusive environment where diversity is recognized, respected and valued, while new Canadians make an effort to enhance their own sense of belonging in Canada by beginning a process of integration, affiliation and connection.

In creating an inclusive environment Canadians, including new Canadians, must commit to learning about the Indigenous peoples of Canada, and the difficulties and current legacy Canadian society must address, to achieve the goal of respecting and valuing diversity. A good place to start is to read the Truth and Reconciliation Commision of Canada: Calls to Action.

– Adapted from Our Canada Handbook


Being Part of a Group
UNITY Charity

Engaging and empowering youth to create safer schools and healthier communities.

Source: Youtube.com

  • What does belonging mean to you?
  • What is the connection between having a personal identity, and belonging to a group?
  • What groups do you belong to?
    • When do your personal identity and need to belong conflict?
    • What usually wins in such conflict? Why?
  • Belonging can come from taking part in a collaborative project or event:
    • What are some of the ways that you can work towards a common cause?
    • What events have you participated in that gave you a sense of belonging?


150 Stories
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Waneek Horn-Miller: Canada's Athlete and Ambassador

“The Native concept of power is how much you can empower people around you.”

Source: 22/150 Waneek Horn-Miller

150 Stories is a Canadian Race Relations Foundation initiative that is celebrating Canada's sesquicentennial in 2017 by publishing one story every week for 150 weeks. 150 Stories represents perspectives about Canada and being Canadian, and insights into Canadian history, organizations and initiatives.

Character Study

For this activity, you will read one of the 150 Stories, and create a character study of the person in the story:

  1. Using a large sheet of paper and a marker, draw an outline of a person and post the outline on the wall.
  2. With your marker, write the person’s name inside the outline.
  3. As you read and gain new insights into the storyteller’s identity factors or characteristics, write them down around the character.
    • Place those factors you share with the storyteller inside the outline, and those that you don’t share, on the outside of the outline.
  4. Do you find that you share a lot or a few of the same identity factors?
  5. Are there any factors you consider to be “Canadian”?
  6. Write a short response based on your findings.

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DO: Take the 150 Stories Challenge!

The Our Canada Youth Challenge is for middle and high school students interested in having their writing published or video promoted.

For details, see Action 7.

For more information on the Our Canada Youth Challenge, visit

Action 3

Creed, Religion, Faith and Spirituality

In learning about the diversity of creed, religion, faith and spirituality in Canada, it is helpful to recognize some common features. There is usually a tradition, or set of stories and practices, transmitted orally or in writing. Some of these traditions, stories and practices can be attributed to a specific founder or set of founders.

Such founding figures are considered great spiritual teachers, prophets or messengers and in some cases, these founding figures themselves come to be seen as divine. Belief in God(s) or the Divine is commonly upheld, although different faiths will refer to different names.

Holy days are associated with history, traditions and accepted ritual practices, as well as a community place of worship, such as a church, gurdwara, mosque, sacred fire, spirit lodge, synagogue or temple.

In many cultures with written texts, the practices and principles, traditions and core values are contained in some authoritative set of sacred writings, such as the Bible or Qur’an for example, either told by and/or written by the founding figure.

Traditional Aboriginal spiritualties have their own distinctive characteristics rooted in the cultures of Indigenous nations and influenced by the unique features and relationships found in individual Indigenous communities. In Indigenous nations, principles and traditions have been passed down for millennia through oral instructions and personal experience, typically through Elders. While there are several common practices among Indigenous groups, there are also specific responsibilities, beliefs and ceremonies associated with each specific band or community.

Many of the teachings, practices and institutions of creeds, religions, faiths and spiritualties remain stable over centuries, but these can also change and evolve over time.

There seems to be one common principle that is shared by all creeds – the “Golden Rule” – which enjoins believers to treat others as they wish to be treated themselves.

– Adapted from Our Canada Handbook


Who said it?

Match the quotes below to the creed.

1. Aboriginal Spirituality


A. “Bhikkhus, the middle way, after avoiding the two extremes, gives knowledge and wisdom and leads to calm higher knowledge, enlightenment, nirvana.”

2. The Baha’i Faith


B. “Love they neighbour as thyself.” Or “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One.”

3. Buddhism


C. “…it is not just a faith. It is the union of Reason and Intuition that cannot be defined, but is only to be experienced.”

4. Christianity


D. The first responsibility is to the Creator, and to protect the capacity of Mother Earth to host all forms of life, offering thanks to the spirit world, to the spirits of animals, fish and plants, sacrificed for the benefit of people.

5. Hinduism


E. “Recite, in the name of your Lord… Recite by the Most Bountiful One your Lord, who by use of the pen taught man that which he did not know.”

6. Islam


F. “Though in calm silence I sit I cannot end my search. No mound of earthly pleasures can satisfy my longing for God.”

7. Judaism


G. “Blessed and happy is he that ariseth to promote the best interests of the peoples and kindreds of the earth… The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”

8. Sikh Faith


H. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”


Aboriginal Spirituality: A family of diverse traditions, the practices and beliefs of Aboriginal spirituality respect all reality as sacred. Important to Aboriginal spirituality is respect for all of Creation, both animate and what is perceived as inanimate. The understanding that humans are inextricably part of the web of life – and what we do to that web we do to ourselves – is also fundamental to most Aboriginal ways of knowing.

The Baha’i Faith: This faith is considered by Baha’is to be the fourth of the Abrahamic, monotheistic religions after Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Central teachings are the oneness of God, the oneness of unity of the human family, equality of women and men, harmony of science and religion, importance of eliminating prejudice of all kinds, establishing justice and supporting universal education.

Buddhism: Centred on the “Three Jewels” of Buddhism (Buddha, the ideal model; Dharma, the overall way of life, and Sangha, the community of Buddhist monks and nuns), teachings involve an understanding of the “Four Noble Truths”, that: 1) suffering is universal; 2) craving and desire cause suffering; 3) suffering can be relieved, and 4) following the “noble Eight-fold Path” will relieve suffering. The Eight-fold Path includes right knowledge, right intention, right speech, right conduct, right means of livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.

Christianity: Founded by the followers of Jesus two thousand years ago, Christianity is monotheistic but Trinitarian in its conception of God as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Beliefs centre around the virgin birth of Christ, that his death was a sacrifice for the salvation of our souls, and that Christ rose from the dead, appeared to his disciples and ascended to heaven. The sacred book is the Bible. Christianity is the world’s largest and most widely spread religion.

Hinduism: Hinduism is a way of life. Unlike other creeds and religions, it does not claim to have any one Prophet; it does not worship any one God; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any particular act of religious rites or performances. Hindus believe that there is an underlying principle of divinity or spirit and the entire Universe is ‘superimposed’ on it. Hindus believe in a continuous cycle of reincarnation and rebirth of the soul after death, that the conditions of one’s present life are due to good or bad deeds (Karma) of this life and in past lives. It is the third largest religion after Christianity and Islam.

Islam: Islam is the second largest religion in the world. Muslims believe that Islam is a continuation of Judaism and Christianity, and that the Prophet Muhammad is the Messenger of God. The primary source in Islam is the Qur’an, believed to be the word of Allah and ultimate authority concerning all facets of Muslims’ life. Islam is premised on “Five Pillars”: 1) the profession of recited daily; 2) daily obligatory prayer facing the Qiblah, or Mecca, recited five times daily; 3) “Zakat” or alms giving; 4) fasting between sunrise and sunset during the Muslim month of Ramadan, and 5) pilgrimage to Mecca, known as a “hajj”.

Judaism: The oldest of monotheistic religions, Judaism is based on the Hebrew Bible (known by Christians as the “Old Testament”), which tells the story of God’s purpose for humanity and the Jewish people, revealing the nature of God’s relationship to the people of Israel through God’s Covenant. Jewish laws are of great importance in traditional Judaism and include dietary restrictions for devout Jews and prescriptions concerning prayer and worship as well as rites of passage (such as the coming-of-age ceremony known as the “Bar” or “Bat Mitzvah”).

The Sikh Faith: One of the youngest of the world’s religions, the Sikh faith was founded by Guru Nanak in the late 15th/early 16th century Punjab. It places importance on the search for eternal truth, belief in reincarnation, and four principal ceremonies (naming, initiation, marriage and death), as well as daily observances: morning bath, meditation on the Name of God, and recitation of hymns and prayers three times each day.

– Adapted from Our Canada Handbook


Faith in the Classroom
  • What creeds, religions, faiths or spiritualties are represented in your class?
  • How do your class’s numbers compare to the Canadian population represented by the 2011 Survey results below?
  • The Survey link below, also includes a breakdown by province or territory. How do your class’s numbers compare to the population of the province or territory where you live?
Here are the facts

Canadian population by religion, Statistics Canada’s 2011 National Household Survey.

Total population 32,852,320
Aboriginal Spirituality 64,940
Catholic 12,810,705
Protestant 2,007,610
Christian Orthodox 550,690
Christian not included elsewhere 6,733,740
Muslim 1,053,945
Jewish 329,500
Buddhist 366,830
Hindu 497,960
Sikh 454,965
Eastern religions 32,930
Other religions 97,900
No religious affiliation 7,850,605

*Based on the population in private households rather than the total population of Canada.


Match the Symbols

Match the symbols to the creed.

1. Aboriginal Spirituality


A. Symbol A

2. The Baha’i Faith


B. Symbol B

3. Buddhism


C. Symbol C

4. Christianity


D. Symbol D

5. Hinduism


E. Symbol E

6. Islam


F. Symbol F

7. Judaism


G. Symbol G

8. Sikh Faith


H. Symbol H


The Faith Project
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Films & iPad App

The rituals of seven young Canadians from different faith traditions.

Source: http://thefaithproject.nfb.ca/

The Faith Project is an immersive media experience that intimately observes the rituals of seven young Canadians from different faith traditions.

Each of the project’s subjects allowed the creative team access to their personal practice and expressions of faith. These articulate, busy young Canadians weave faith into their daily lives not as an obligation but as something that is essential to their identity and place in the world.

Similarities and Differences
  • What creeds, religions, faiths and spiritualties are present in your local community?
  • Which are more important in creating a sense of Canadian identity, our similarities or our differences?
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Similarities and Differences

Investigate similarities and differences in traditions and beliefs using a comparison chart or graphic such as a Venn diagram.


Aboriginal Peoples: The descendants of the original inhabitants of North America. Term used to collectively describe three groups – recognized in the Constitution Act, 1982: Indians, Inuit, and Métis. These are separate peoples with unique histories, languages, cultural practices, spiritual beliefs, and political goals. The word “Aboriginal” is an umbrella term for all three peoples, and is not interchangeable with “First Nations.” It should also not be used when referring to only one or two of the three recognized groups.

Acceptance: Affirmation and recognition of those whose race, creed, religion, nationality, values, beliefs, etc. are different from one’s own.

Creed: A professed system and confession of faith, including both beliefs and observances or worship. A belief in a God or Gods or a single supreme being or deity is not a requisite.

Ethnicity: The multiplicity of beliefs, behaviours and traditions held in common by a group of people bound by particular linguistic, historical, geographical, religious and/or racial homogeneity. Ethnic diversity is the variation of such groups and the presence of a number of ethnic groups within one society or nation.

First Nation: A term that came into common usage in the 1980s, to replace the term “Indian,” which some people find offensive. It has no legal definition. “First Nation peoples” or “First Nations” refers to the Indian peoples in Canada, both status and non-status, and can also refer to a community of people as a replacement term for “band” (see “Band”). First Nation peoples are one of the distinct cultural groups of Aboriginal peoples in Canada. There are 52 First Nations cultures in Canada, and more than 50 languages. The term “First Nation” is not interchangeable with “Aboriginal,” because it does not include Métis or Inuit.

Indigenous: First used in the 1970s, when Aboriginal peoples worldwide were fighting for representation at the U.N., and now frequently used by academics and in international contexts (e.g., the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples). Understood to mean the communities, peoples, and nations that have a historical continuity with pre-invasion, pre-settler, or pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, as distinct from the other societies now prevailing on those territories (or parts of them). Can be used more or less interchangeably with “Aboriginal,” except when referring specifically to a Canadian legal context, in which case “Aboriginal” is preferred, as it is the term used in the Constitution.

Race: Refers to a group of people of common ancestry, distinguished from others by physical characteristics such as colour of skin, shape of eyes, hair texture or facial features (this definition refers to the common usage of the term ‘race’ when dealing with human rights matters. It does not reflect the current scientific debate about the validity of phenotypic descriptions of individuals and groups of individuals). The term is also used to designate social categories into which societies divide people according to such characteristics.

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation Glossary of Terms

Action 4

Canadian Values

Who we are, how we were socialized throughout our lives (at home, in school, in the neighbourhood, etc.) and with whom we hang out can shape our beliefs and values.

Values are defined as “one’s principles or standards; one’s judgment of what is valuable or important in life.”

Canada is a democracy, made up of people from all different backgrounds, and therefore Canadian values can be viewed as dynamic, or changing over time, and may be different to different people at different times. Nevertheless, there are some values that can be more clearly noted as “Canadian”, but it would be difficult to show that national values applied to all Canadians all of the time.

According to the Canadian Race Relations Foundation’s Our Canada Report on Canadian Values, Canadians hold as their most cherished values freedom, equality and loyalty to country. They also value civility, including social etiquette. Canadians are guaranteed equality before and under the law, and equality of opportunity regardless of their origins.

In 1982 the Canadian government enacted the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which includes:

  • Freedom of expression
  • The right to a democratic government
  • The right to live and to seek employment anywhere in Canada
  • Legal rights of persons accused of crimes
  • Aboriginal peoples' rights
  • The right to equality, including the equality of men and women
  • The right to use either of Canada's official languages
  • The right of French and English linguistic minorities to an education in their language
  • The protection of Canada's multicultural heritage
  • A desire for peace

The Charter covers the laws and regulations governments can pass and how these are applied. Generally speaking, any person in Canada, whether a Canadian citizen, a permanent resident or a newcomer, has the rights and freedoms contained in the Charter.

There are some exceptions. For example, in section 25 of the Charter Aboriginal rights shall not be abrogated or derogated by the Charter and it gives some rights only to Canadian citizens, such as the right to vote and the right "to enter, remain in and leave Canada”.

– Adapted from Our Canada Handbook


Make a List of Values

What does the term “Canadian values” mean to you?

  1. Make a list of what you consider to be Canadian values.
  2. Compare your list with your classmates:
    1. Which values are the same and which ones are different?
    2. Why do you think some are different and some are similar?


Shared Values
  1. Do you think Canadian values have changed over time?
  2. How do your personal beliefs agree with, or conflict with, what you believe are “Canadian values”?
  3. Where conflicts exist, how do you deal with these challenges?


Rate Canadian Values

Based on the premise that establishing a strong sense of Canadian identity and belonging leads to an inclusive Canada, it has been suggested that one of the most pertinent elements is a shared set of values.

The following values were explored in the Our Canada Report on Canadian Values.

  1. Review the list and add any values you feel are missing.
  2. Rate the values in terms of their importance from 1-10 (1 being most and 10 being least).
  3. Post your top three values on Twitter and/or Instagram, using the hashtag: #VoicesIntoAction.

  Civility toward others, mutual respect and politeness
  Democracy and the rule of law
  Equality and equal access to basic needs (e.g. health care and education)
  Generosity, compassion and empathy toward others
  Humility, modesty about who we are
  Loyalty to Canada
  Multiculturalism - respect for cultural and religious differences
  Official Bilingualism
  Respect for human rights and freedoms


Create a Bulletin Board

Over a period of time, watch the newspapers, news magazines and Internet news. Using images and words cut out of these news publications, create a bulletin board display divided into two sections, one for items that you agree do exemplify Canadian values, and those that do not.

  1. Which section has the most items?
  2. Post a photo of your bulletin board on Twitter and/or Instagram, using the hashtag: #VoicesIntoAction.


Unique Values

Consider whether your parents or teachers share these values and the importance you and your classmates have placed on them.

  1. Are there any values unique to students? Teachers? Parents?
  2. Do our values change over our lifetime? If so, how, why and if not, why not?


My Values

Learn about your classmates, their values and the values you share. While retaining what is unique about you, it is helpful to emphasize common and broader shared values and principles, rather than narrower dividing ones.

  1. In column 1 list your ten top values.
  2. Compare your values with others.
  3. If you share a value with one other person, put his/her name in column 2.
  4. If you share a value with two other people, add the second person’s name to column 3.
  5. If you share a value with more than two people, add their name(s) to column 4.

  My top ten valuesShared with one personShared with two peopleShared with more than two people

Action 5

Civic Engagement

In Canada we are not just a collection of isolated communities; we also have a responsibility to the common good.

Understandably, the ability to influence societal change is a significant component of living in a democracy. But there is more to democracy than a jaunt to the ballot box every four years.

Civic engagement is about the right of the citizen to influence the public good, determine how best to seek that good and contribute to reforming the institutions that do not serve the public good as well as they should.

By being an engaged citizen we help our society grow. In the end, when active citizens take a leadership role and contribute their time, energy and good will, the rewards are many.

Participation can include efforts to directly address an issue, concern or need, and to collaborate with others in your community to realize a goal, problem-solve or interact with institutions. Action begins when individuals feel the sense of personal responsibility to uphold their obligations as part of any community, and strive to make a contribution in a meaningful way. We learn from acting together. By collaborating, citizens build public institutions such as schools and hospitals, and intangible ones like traditions and norms.

– Adapted from Our Canada Handbook


Contributing to Your Community
  • What are you doing for your community service hours?
  • How is this contributing to your community?
  • Is it contributing to your sense of community engagement? If not, what would make the experience more relevant?


What can you do? Become an active participant!
  • What is the path to civic engagement and how can it be fostered it in a meaningful way?
  • How can you impact public issues by devoting time and energy with your family, friends, community, or on your own, towards initiatives of public interest?
  • What can you do to foster a greater sense of civic engagement in your community?
Canadian Roots Exchange

Building bridges between Indigenous and non-Indigenous youth by facilitating dialogue and strengthening relationships through leadership programs.

Source: YouTube

Research some organizations and causes that interest you:

  • Join: As an active member of a group or an association that reflects your values, ethnocultural or linguistic background, and/or your skills, expertise, training, education or interests.
  • Volunteer: At a food bank, health care or community centre, place of worship or other non-profit organization or charity.
  • Fundraise: Walking, running, organizing, and supporting causes that are important to you.


Create a Bulletin Board
  1. As a class, use newspapers, magazines or download images from the Internet to create a bulletin board representing all the civic engagement activities undertaken by the class as a whole.
  2. Classify them as Join, Volunteer, Fundraise and any others you have identified.
  3. Post a photo of your bulletin board on Twitter and/or Instagram, using the hashtag: #VoicesIntoAction.


  • What are the most popular forms of engagement?
  • How do these activities reflect your values as a group?
  • What is the collective impact of the class, and on the class?
  • Is there a way your class can make a difference by working on a project that reflects your shared values?



When it comes to civic engagement on an electoral platform, the first thing that comes to mind for many of us is voting.

Student Vote is a parallel election for students under the voting age, coinciding with federal, provincial, territorial and municipal elections. The purpose is to provide young Canadians with an opportunity to experience the voting process firsthand and build the habits of informed and engaged citizenship. Students take on the role of election officials and cast ballots for the official election candidates.

  • Do you think that it is important for students under the voting age to engage in the electoral process? If so, why? If not, why not?
  • If your class registers for Student Vote, post your campaign on Twitter and/or Instagram, using the hashtag: #VoicesIntoAction.
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Student Vote

Your school can register and hold its own Student Vote Day. The program is completely free. http://www.studentvote.ca

Source: CIVIX Canada www.civix.ca

Since 2003, 27 Student Vote programs have been conducted across Canada at the federal, provincial, territorial and municipal levels of government. In the most recent federal election, 922,000 students cast ballots from 6,760 schools.


Beyond the Ballot Box

Democratic participation can, however, be extended past the ballot box. Do you think it is important to get involved in any of the following activities?

  • Volunteering to work for a candidate, political party or a political organization?
  • Developing a political voice at the municipal, provincial/territorial or national level?
  • Encouraging friends and family to get involved as well?


How can you be heard? Identify, discuss, collaborate, and connect.
  1. Identify an issue that is vital to you and your classmates.
    • What opinions do your classmates have on the issue?
    • By sharing your ideas and experiences, does it shed light on a particular situation for you?
  2. Collaborate with your classmates to create insights and a list of possible solutions to the issue. You might decide to break into smaller groups tackling different issues.
  3. Set up three questions and interview one or more people about the issue. You could do this within your school or broader community.
  4. Bring all the interviews together and share them with your group*.
    • Did you learn something new, or were the responses mostly the same?
    • Review your list of solutions: have the interviews introduced new or different solutions?

*Your class might consider sharing your interviews through a blog, or recording your interviews and turning them into a podcast. If you do, then post a link to your blog or podcast on Twitter and/or Instagram, using the hashtag: #VoicesIntoAction.

Interview Guidelines

  • Attempt to listen to people with differing points of view.
  • Make sure your questions are clear and concise – have translations and definitions of terminology where necessary.
  • Sticky issues are part of the process, so do not shy away from them.
  • Go in search of people from different socio-economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds, as well as people of different genders and ages, and include them in the discussion.
  • Share the idea(s) in clear, concise language because you would like many people to understand and be part of the solution.

Action 6

Pluralism in Canada: Multiculturalism & Interculturalism

Canada, a land rich with culture, language and history, was first inhabited by Aboriginal peoples – comprised of a multitude of distinct Indigenous nations which today are known under three general groupings: First Nations, Inuit and Métis. First Nations and Inuit occupied the lands of North America long before the arrival of Europeans. At the beginning of the 15th century, French and English explorations brought settlements to eastern Canada, developing trade and establishing colonies. The Métis as a distinct group arose after the arrival of the Europeans. They are a result of intermarriage between Europeans and the Indigenous peoples.

With the exception of Indigenous peoples, everyone in Canada is an immigrant or a descendent of one.

Throughout its early years, Canada favoured immigration from British, Anglo-American and western European sources. In the first half of the 20th century, European immigrants came to Canada from such countries as Poland, Italy, Germany, Ukraine, Ireland and Portugal. During the mid-half of the century and on, Canada attracted immigrants from the Caribbean, Middle East, South America, Africa and Asia.

In the early 1960s, many Canadians grew increasingly dissatisfied with the predominantly Anglo-centric character of their political, economic and social institutions. Although much of the discontent emanated from Québec, the Indigenous peoples and various ethnic groups were also requesting changes.

In response, the Federal government, in 1963, appointed the Royal Commission on Bilingualism and Biculturalism, whose mandate was to recommend steps to develop the Canadian Federation between the English and the French. The Commission’s report reaffirmed Canada’s bilingual and bicultural reality. One of the most important recommendations was to make Canada an officially bilingual nation, achieved through the introduction of the Official Languages Act, and the encouragement of students across the country to learn both official languages.

In 1971, the Federal government, under the leadership of then Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, took a direction different than the Commission’s recommendations and pursued a policy of “multiculturalism within a bilingual framework”. Hence, Canada be- came the first country in the world to adopt a national multiculturalism policy.

The policy was an attempt to reconcile two competing visions of Canada: the dualistic view, that, in addition to the Indigenous Peoples, Canada is comprised of two principal founding groups; and the pluralistic view, which sees Canada as comprised of a wide variety of cultural groups. The policy encouraged all Canadians to accept cultural pluralism and to participate fully and equally in Canadian society. Multiculturalism remains an integral part of our national identity and, as such, Canada has been unique among western democracies in its commitment to this ideal.

By 1981, as Canada’s racial diversity was beginning to grow, more attention was being devoted to racial discrimination, and race relations. With the experience of Indigenous peoples of Canada rising up to oppose the 1969 White Paper that proposed to eliminate Indigenous rights and with the support of some Canadian church groups, Aboriginal or Indigenous rights were affirmed in the Constitution Act of 1982 as they had been in the Royal Proclamation of 1763. In 1982, with the repatriation of the Canadian Constitution, multicultural policies were firmly entrenched in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms guaranteeing, among other things, equal protection and benefit of the law, and freedom from discrimination on the basis of, for example, gender, creed, religion, racial and ethnic origin.

As such, multiculturalism was recognized in Section 27 of the Canadian Charter in 1982. An objective of Canada’s multiculturalism policy was to foster a more just society, with early multicultural programs emphasizing cultural pluralism. Over time, the shift in focus to equity and anti-discrimination measures widened the meaning of multiculturalism to include issues relating to anti-racism. These programs, strengthened by policy initiatives, have been effective in bringing about advancements in opportunities for minority groups.

In 1988, Bill C-93, the Multiculturalism Act, was passed and became the first formal legislative vehicle for Canada’s multicultural policy. The Multiculturalism Act affirms the policy of the government to ensure that every Canadian receives equal treatment by the government, which respects and celebrates diversity.

The Act went beyond simply guaranteeing equal opportunity for all Canadians, regardless of origin. It emphasized the right of Canada’s ethnic, racial and religious minorities to preserve and share their unique cultural heritage, and underlined the need to address race relations and eliminate systemic inequalities.

Each of Canada’s provinces has a recognized multicultural policy in place. Saskatchewan was the first Canadian province to adopt legislation on multiculturalism, which was called The Saskatchewan Multiculturalism Act of 1974, which has since been replaced by a new, revised Multiculturalism Act (1997). Ontario followed in 1977 by putting in place a policy that promoted cultural activity, which became an Act in 1990, and the final province being Newfoundland and Labrador in 2008.

Quebec and “Interculturalism”

Quebec differs from the other nine provinces in that its policy focuses on "interculturalism" rather than multiculturalism, wherein diversity is strongly encouraged, but subsumed under the notion that it is within the framework that establishes French as the public language.

Quebec’s policy of interculturalism, which was developed in reaction to the federal multiculturalism policy, recognizes the reality of the province’s identity as a distinct Francophone community, where the French language and culture hold paramount importance. For example, immigrant children must attend French language schools and most signage must be in French.

In 1990, Quebec released Let’s Build Quebec Together: A Policy Statement on Integration and Immigration, which reinforced the notions of Quebec as a French-speaking society; Quebec as a democratic society wherein each person is expected to contribute to public life, and Quebec as a pluralistic society which respects the diversity of cultures within a democratic framework. In 2005, Quebec developed the Ministry of Immigration and Cultural Communities with the primary function being to foster closer cultural relations among the people of Quebec, and to support cultural communities in their quest to participate fully in Quebec society.

– Adapted from Our Canada Handbook


Newspaper Scavenger Hunt

In small groups of 3 or 4, search through a selection of newspapers and news magazines to find items on the list below. You have 15 minutes (or more, to be determined by the class/teacher) to find as many as possible.

Hunt Ideas

  1. A picture of something you consider “Canadian”
  2. An article about some aspect of Canadian culture
  3. An article or photo showing people in Canada taking part in cultural traditions from another country
  4. A word in the paper that is in a language other than English or French
  5. A story or picture from the sports section representing a game more common outside of Canada
  6. An example of someone showing their identity as a person
  7. An ad for a job requiring more than one language
  8. An ad appealing to your identity, persuading you to buy something
  9. An editorial or article talking about human rights
  10. A story about events in a foreign country that could affect Canadians
  11. An article dealing with an important local issue
  12. A picture or story about “ethnic” foods or entertainment
  13. An article about a clash of rights or values
  14. An article that discusses issues important to Aboriginal Peoples in Canada
  15. A photo of two or more people from different backgrounds working together

Share and present your findings to the class:

  • Which items were easy to find?
  • Why do you think some items were easier to find than others? And what are the implications of this (i.e., what types of things tend to be omitted from some or all of the newspapers and why?)?
  • How can you justify the choices you made to fit each item on the list?


Demonstrate Diversity
  1. Create a visual piece that demonstrates diversity in your classroom or community by choosing one of the following activities:
    1. Make a photo essay with accompanying commentary
    2. Make a short animated video piece. This could be either drawn, or computer generated animation, or a stop motion animation.
  2. Post your photo essay or animated video on Twitter and/or Instagram, using the hashtag: #VoicesIntoAction.


What it Means to be a Multicultural Society

In order for Canada to be a truly multicultural society, it is necessary to incorporate ideas and knowledge from all cultures in how we organize our work and living space, our education systems, our popular culture and mass media and all other aspects of society. Canada as a society needs to fully embrace equality and justice for all of its residents, no matter their background, gender, ethnicity, faith, tradition or skin colour.

  • What knowledge or practices from non-Canadian cultures do you think should be incorporated into Canadian society?
  • How would you like to see policies around multiculturalism or interculturalism progress in Canada?


The Evolution of Multiculturalism

Augie Fleras and Jean Lock Kunz conceived this table in 2001 to represent the ways that multiculturalism has changed since the Multiculturalism Act was introduced in 1970.

 Ethnicity Multiculturalism (1970s)Equity Multiculturalism (1980s)Civic Multiculturalism (1990s)Integrative Multiculturalism (2000s)
Focus Celebrating differences Managing diversity Constructive engagement Inclusive citizenship
Reference Point Culture Structure Society building Canadian identity
Mandate Ethnicity Race relations Citizenship Integration
Magnitude Individual adjustment Accommodation Participation Rights and Responsibilities
Problem Source Prejudice Systemic discrimination Exclusion Unequal access, "clash" of cultures
Solution Cultural sensitivity Employment equity Inclusiveness Dialogue / Mutual Understanding
Key Metaphor "Mosaic" "Level playing field" "Belonging" "Harmony/Jazz"

Reference: Augie Fleras and Jean Lock Kunz. 2001. Media And Minorities, Representing Diversity in a Multicultural Canada. Thompson Educational Publishing.

As a class or in groups:

  1. Review the “Evolution of Multiculturalism” table (above) created by Fleras and Kunz, 2001.
  2. Create a “Next” column and complete it with the way you would characterize the current/next stage of multiculturalism in Canada.
  3. Compare your ideas with the updated version of the table put forward by author Andrew Griffith, formerly Director General, Citizenship and Multiculturalism Branch, Department of Citizenship and Immigration (Slide 7).
  4. With the new government’s focus on diversity and inclusion, should Andrew’s table be updated even further, and if yes, how?
enlarge image
Andrew Griffith

Andrew Griffith’s updated version of the table The Evolution of Multiculturalism is Slide 7.

Source: CRRF Webinar, Multiculturalism and the Power of Words, October 2015

Action 7

Our Canada Youth Challenge

Writers: 150 Stories

Write a story (Limit: 500 words)

150 Stories represents perspectives about Canada and being Canadian, and insights into Canadian history, organizations and initiatives. One winning story will be chosen for each of the concepts covered in this Voices into Action Unit: Identity, Belonging, Creed, Canadian Values, Civic Engagement, Multiculturalism/Interculturalism.

Videographers: Youth Video Competition

Make a video (Time: 30-seconds)

The Our Canada Youth Video Competition represents videos depicting your understanding of Canadian values and identity. Awards are presented in four categories: Aboriginal Peoples, English Language, French Language and Newcomer Youth.

For more information on the Our Canada Youth Challenge, visit


Take the Challenge!

The Our Canada Youth Challenge is for middle and high school students interested in having their writing published or video promoted.

  • Do you want to share your unique perspective on Canada and being Canadian?
  • Is there a story that you would like to give voice to through your writing or a short video?

Youth Challenge Features

The Canadian Race Relations Foundation is publishing stories and videos about Canadian diversity, inclusion and unity!

A panel of judges will choose a winner in each category. We encourage creative and collaborative submissions!

Selected stories will be part of the 150 Stories initiative.

The winning videos will be broadcast nationally.

All qualifying stories and videos will be posted on the Canadian Race Relations website and social media channels – http://www.crrf-fcrr.ca.

Winners will be guests of the Canadian Race Relations Conference and Awards of Excellence – October 26 & 27, 2016 – in Toronto.

For more information on the Our Canada Youth Challenge, visit www.crrf-fcrr.ca/en/our-canada/in-the-classroom

enlarge image
Diviya Leonard: A Canadian Girl Making a Difference

“My name is Diviya Leonard and I am proud to call myself Canadian. I am now 14 years old, but I started getting involved with human rights issues when I was 11.”

Source: 41/150: Diviya Leonard

Story Concepts

Here are examples of 150 Stories that relate to the Our Canada concepts covered in this unit:

  1. Identity: Waneek Horn-Miller or Sol Sanderson
  2. Belonging: Rubin Friedman or Marina Nemat
  3. Creed, Religion, Faith and Spirituality: Raheel Raza or Tanya Khan
  4. Canadian Values: Harry Manson or Roch Carrier
  5. Civic Engagement: Diviya Leonard or Avrum Rosensweig
  6. Multiculturalism/Interculturalism: Pamela Rebello or Daniel Roher

enlarge image
Daniel Roher: Building Bridges Among Canada's Treaty People

“It is through documentary that I try to provide new perspectives and contemporary understandings to help build the bridge among all of Canada's treaty people.”

Source: 28/150: Daniel Roher

Four Video Categories

An expert jury panel will review all videos. Categories are: Aboriginal Peoples, English Language, French Language and Newcomer Youth.

“I am Canadian” 2014 Winning Youth Video

Produced by Harley Manitowabi, Hillcrest High School, Ottawa, Ontario

Source: www.crrf-fcrr.ca/en/resources/our-canada-handbook

Answers to Action 3 activities

Think, “Who said it?”
Answers: 1/d; 2/g; 3/a; 4/h; 5/c; 6/e; 7/b; 8/f.

Match the symbols
Answers: 1/c; 2/e; 3/g; 4/h; 5/d; 6/b; 7/a; 8/f

ACTION 3, The Faith Project
The Faith Project can be found on CAMPUS, National Film Board’s online education portal. The unit explores themes such as spirituality, beliefs, knowledge, the secular world, practicing faith in Canada and working together.

Unit 6 Living Together in Today's World

Chapter 1 Contemporary Antisemitism

Back to top

Contemporary Antisemitism

Girl who faced antisemitism in high school


It is tempting to believe that the dark days of the Holocaust have been consigned to history. True, the Holocaust is over, and for that we are all grateful. But, have the causes of the Holocaust, antisemitism and the hatred of Jews, really been eradicated?

The truth is that there has been and currently continues to be an alarming rise of antisemitic incidents and attacks on Jewish people and their culture worldwide. While the most alarming increase has been in Europe, we in North America, and especially Canada, are not immune.

Antisemitism has different guises:

  • It may be political, as in Hungary, where a far-right political party is gaining power. Typically, this form of antisemitism blames Jews for all that is wrong in their country, even though the Jewish population may be very small there.
  • It may find expression in the media. This is usually, but not always, more subtle. It may find expression in caricatures such as editorial cartoons, biased reportage and commentary, or manipulation of language. It often resides in letters to the editor, where there are references to a “powerful Jewish lobby” and suggestions that Jews control the banks, the media and government itself.
  • It may take the form of Holocaust denial. In some cases, the Holocaust may be dismissed as unimportant, irrelevant or distorted. A high profile case in Canada involved a German immigrant, Ernst Zundel, who published pamphlets asking Did Six Million Really Die? Clearly he was denying the Holocaust had ever taken place.
  • It still exists in the form of historical blood-libels where Jews are accused of murdering non-Jews for nefarious purposes associated with religious practice. In times past, this would rear its head around Passover when Jews were thought to murder Christian children and use their blood in the making of matzoh (the unleavened bread eaten at Passover).
  • It exists in the persistence of the Protocols of Zion. Published in Russia in 1903, this antisemitic trope accuses Jews of plotting to take over the world. Long been exposed as a forgery and a hoax, it is still popular in some quarters, especially in the Middle East.
  • It may find expression in violence perpetrated against Jews. In France, one of the worst cases occurred in 2006, when Ilan Halimi, a young Jewish man, was taken hostage, and subsequently tortured and killed when the ransom demanded was too high to be paid. In another case, in 2012, a Rabbi and three children were shot and killed as they walked to school in Toulouse, France. In the recent unrest in the Ukraine, a Rabbi and synagogue in Kiev were attacked.
  • It may be presented culturally , such as within the performances of Dieudonne M’bala M’bala, a French comedian, or in sport where recently some European athletes have raised their arms in the quenelle, a reverse Nazi salute. 

More worrisome, since Jews form such a small minority, governments are reluctant to act on this new rise in antisemitism, seeing it as “an inevitable part of life.” 

In the Netherlands, former Dutch defence minister and professor at Leiden University, Frits Bolkestein has said: “Jews have to realize that there is no future for them in the Netherlands and that they best advise their children to leave for the United States or Israel.”

One might conclude that the obvious answer to this is education about antisemitism and the Holocaust.  Yet, in France, thousands of schools surveyed by the Ministry of Education revealed that history teachers were not allowed to teach the Holocaust due to backlash from parents, and the threat of possible violence. Some groups within the Muslim community have been trying to cancel Holocaust Remembrance Day.

While Canada has one of the best records for fighting antisemitism, we cannot be complacent. Some sobering facts:

  • William “Bible Bill” Aberhart, premier of Alberta from 1935 to 1943, subscribed to the Jewish conspiracy theories of The Protocols of Zion. The Social Credit party which he headed, was the only political party in North America to officially endorse antisemitism.
  • In the 1980s, high school teacher James Keegstra in Alberta, taught students that Jews were evil and the Holocaust was a hoax. Keegstra referred to Jews as “gutter rats.” In New Brunswick, teacher Malcolm Ross kept his beliefs out of the classroom but publicized them through letters to the editor. This went on for years until complaints from parents and widespread media coverage forced local Boards of Education to remove those racist educators from the classroom.
  • In Montreal, a Jewish school was firebombed in 2004.
  • Winnipeg is home to a blogger who maintains there is a “Jewish Satanic clique that dominates the world.”
  • In 2011, a teenager approached a 15-year-old girl, pulled out a lighter and started flicking it near her head, saying, “Let’s burn the Jew.” A portion of the girl’s hair caught fire. The judge ruled that the boy was “a bully and a jerk” but that the incident was not antisemitic.
  • All synagogues, Jewish schools and cultural centres employ security guards. Anyone wishing to enter must go through a security check first.
  • According to B'nai Brith Canada, in 2017 there were 1,752 reported antisemitic incidents across Canada, an increase of 27% since 2015: vandalism (322), violent attacks (11) and the rest, social media posts or harassment.

FAST is a non-political organization founded by non-Jews. All content is based on fact, not opinion. The key goal is to help teach critical inquiry through authentic examination of facts. This has proven to lead to a better understanding of world history, current events, minority rights and the importance of standing up against all intolerance and prejudice. The lessons of contemporary antisemitism can be applied more broadly to all relationships with people of any ethnic, religious, or gender group and will assist us with living happily together in today's world.

Professor Irwin Cotler

Former Minister of Justice & Attorney General of Canada - Interview on new Antisemitism

Action 1


  • Working with a partner, make a list of the different expressions of antisemitism and rank them in order of passive to active. Which of these forms is the most dangerous and why? Discuss how antisemitism might become the so-called "canary in the coal mine" for all other hatred.
  • A well-known Dutch writer, Leon de Winter, says: “What is happening in the Netherlands and Europe is a prelude of terrible things to come. The great story of the love Jews have for Europe has come to an end.  In this sense, the Nazis have been successful. The presence of the Jews in Europe will end.” How have Jews contributed to the richness of life in Europe? Choose a country and research their contributions in various fields: literature, the arts, medicine, the sciences, academics. What other areas can you think of? How many of these contributions came from or involved Jews? Create a PowerPoint presentation of your findings.
  • Why are people hesitant to speak up when they encounter an expression of antisemitism? What advice can you give to them?
  • How has the Internet, especially social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook been instrumental in the spread of antisemitic propaganda? How might these same platforms be used to combat antisemitism? Make a list of suggestions. 
  • Working with a small group of your classmates, do some research using the Internet and/or library resources. Create a timeline of antisemitic occurrences both in Europe and North America. Make your timeline impactful. Post it in the classroom. Analyze the various occurrences included to indicate the nature of the incident (e.g. violence).
  • In the case of the girl whose hair was set on fire in Winnipeg, you can research the judge’s ruling. Why might he have decided this was not antisemitism? Do you agree with the ruling? Why or why not? The boy was ordered to write a letter of apology to the girl and to do a number of hours of community service. Was this an appropriate ruling? Why or why not? The girl’s lawyer argued that her “world had been turned upside down.” What might this mean? What suggestions do you have for both the girl and the boy in this case to enable them to move forward with their lives in a more positive manner? Share your thoughts with your classmates.
  • A common argument presented is that the people who express antisemitic sentiments are entitled to do so under the rubric of “freedom of speech.” As a class, research the defintion of "hate speech". Then, conduct a formal debate in the classroom: Is “hate speech” an expression of “free speech”? Should there be “reasonable limits” placed on “free speech” to protect others? 
  • Over a period of time designated by your teacher, examine various media, especially newspapers, for expressions of antisemitism or bias against Jews: consider caricatures such as in editorial cartoons, letters to the editor, language, and opinion. Keep a file of your clippings and other findings. Share them with your classmates and explain your thinking. Identify 10-15 of your most striking examples and use them to create a found poem. Present your poem to the class. Rewrite or redraw some of your examples to present a more fair, accurate and unbiased representation.

Action 2


Lessons from the Holocaust.

Irwin Cotler was the Member of Parliament for Mount Royal (Montreal) and the Liberal Party of Canada’s Critic for Rights and Freedoms and International Justice from 1999 to 2015. He is also an Emeritus Professor of Law at McGill University, former Minister of Justice & Attorney General of Canada, and an international human rights lawyer. He is founding chairman of the Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights.

He writes: "We will speak up and act against racism, against hate, against antisemitism, against mass atrocity, against injustice, and against the crime of crimes whose name we should shudder to mention: genocide." Read the full article and discuss as a class how you might speak up and act against hate.

Lessons from the Holocaust

Elie Wiesel, Holocaust survivor, author and Nobel Laureate, famously said:

"We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented."
"The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference."
"There may be times when we are powerless to prevent injustice, but there must never be a time when we fail to protest."

Discuss as a class how being a bystander helps enable the perpetrator(s).

Action 3


Watch this video
The Mutating Virus: Understanding Antisemitism

Keynote address by Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks at the European Parliament, September 27, 2016

Transcript to speech

The New Antisemitism – anti-Israel (after 1948)

“The most worrying discovery of this inquiry is that anti-Jewish sentiment is entering the mainstream, appearing in everyday conversations of people who consider themselves neither racist nor prejudiced.”

Labour MP Denis MacShane, Chair of the 2006 U.K. All-Party Parliamentary Inquiry into Anti-Semitism, as quoted by The Guardian

Antisemitism has not disappeared; it merely changes form. We have seen how it originated as a form of religious intolerance. With the Enlightenment in Europe, it found expression as racial intolerance. (See chapter: Judaism and Antisemitism through the Ages.) Nowadays, the so-called New Antisemitism uses criticism of Israel, often described as the “Jewish state” as a blunt hammer used to beat Israelis and Jews. Double standards are applied by requiring of Israel standards not expected or demanded of other nations. As former Prime Minister Brian Mulroney once said, “Israel is the collective Jew.”

Cartoons have to express ideas in an easy-to-understand way. Therefore, they are often accessible even to people who cannot read because they are visual and rely on symbols. Cartoons are also an efficient way to transmit hate and prejudices, including antisemitism. Antisemitism in cartoons has been investigated, among others, by the Belgian political scientist Jöel Kotek in his book Cartoons and Extremism. Political cartoons often have a more immediate impact in reinforcing negative stereotypes about Jews than a lengthy essay.

The largest output of antisemitic cartoons nowadays comes from the Arab and Muslim world. However, one also finds a significant number of antisemitic cartoons in many countries. In Europe, for instance, over the past decade such imagery has been particularly strong in countries such as Norway and Greece. Examples of antisemitic symbols in cartoons: The “magen david” or Jewish star is both a religious symbol and a national symbol of Israel, which can be construed as antisemitic. Antisemitic cartoons often portray Israelis and Jews with hooked noses and wearing both skullcaps and earlocks, the symbols of orthodox Jewry.

Iranian Cartoon depicting Jews as murderers of Gaza victims enlarge image
Iranian Cartoon depicting Jews as murderers of Gaza victims

Source: Pinterest

If you want to find criticism of Israel, look at any Israeli newspaper. For every two Jews, there are three opinions. Jews in Israel and around the world are very divided about the current Israeli government and the West Bank.

The new Antisemitism holds that:

  • Israel has no right to exist; Jews have no true connection to that geographic region
  • the guilt from the Holocaust is the only reason Israel was created
  • Israeli treatment of non-Jews is racist and genocidal
  • Israel has little interest in dialogue; there is not discussion; there can only be demonstrations and violence
  • Jews have divided loyalties and cannot be trusted to act in the best interests of the country in which they reside.
Cartoons of the 9/11 Conspiracy theory that the Jews were involved enlarge image
Cartoons of the 9/11 Conspiracy theory that the Jews were involved

Source: Al-Watan; Al-Yawm

“Syria has documented proof of the Zionist regime’s involvement in the September 11 terror attacks on the United States ...[That] 4,000 Jews employed at the World Trade Center did not show up for work before the attack clearly attests to Zionist involvement in these attacks.”

- The Syrian ambassador to Iran,Turki Muhammad Saqr, at a conference held at the Iranian Foreign Ministry on October 24, 2001

The facts are very different. According to the New York Times, approximately 15% of people working in the World Trade Centre were Jewish, but facts don’t matter when antisemitism is the objective.

“It is not antisemitic to criticize the policies of the state of Israel, but the line is crossed when Israel or its leaders are demonized or vilified, for example, by the use of Nazi symbols and racist caricatures.”

- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, April 28, 2004, OSCE Conference on Antisemitism, Berlin, Germany

This 2005 edition of the Elders of Zion blames the Jews for 9/11 and predicts the destruction of Israel – authorized by the Syrian Ministry of Education enlarge image
This 2005 edition of the Elders of Zion blames the Jews for 9/11 and predicts the destruction of Israel – authorized by the Syrian Ministry of Education

Source: United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

Cartoons in the Middle East enlarge image
Cartoons in the Middle East

Source: newantisemitism.com

In Syria in 2003, a show entitled Al-Shattat, or Diaspora, was produced and shown on Hizballah’s Al Manar television station. In Al-Shattat, actors graphically depict a Christian child being ritually murdered for his blood by Jews who discuss using the blood to make matzoh.

Cartoon of Ahmadinejad, former President of Iran, 2005 and 2013 enlarge image
Cartoon of Ahmadinejad, former President of Iran, 2005 and 2013

Source: Creators Syndicate 2013 and vitalperspective.com

Former President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s words:

“First of all, this figure [six million Jews killed during the Holocaust] is greatly exaggerated.... The Zionist lobby and the Jewish Agency use this issue as a club with which they beat and extort the West.”

- Iranian columnist for Tehran Times Dr. Hasan Hanizadeh, interview with Iranian Jaam-e Jam 2 TV, December 20, 2005

A copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is prominently displayed by a book vendor at Istanbul’s main train station, March 18, 2005. According to The Guardian, in March 2005 the book was a
best seller in Turkey, reportedly selling over 100,000 copies in 2 months. enlarge image
A copy of Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf is prominently displayed by a book vendor at Istanbul’s main train station, March 18, 2005. According to The Guardian, in March 2005 the book was a best seller in Turkey, reportedly selling over 100,000 copies in 2 months.

Source: Tolaris


Between 2001 and September 2006, UN General Assembly’s plenary and main committees adopted over 120 human rights-related resolutions focused on Israel. During that same period, only ten resolutions were adopted by these same bodies regarding the situations in North Korea, Burma, and Sudan. Israel is always singled out and not held to the same standards.

At the September 2001 World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) held in Durban, South Africa was, according to South Africa’s Deputy Foreign Minister hijacked and used by some with an anti-Israel agenda to turn it into an antisemitic event.

2006 Muslim Teachings

According to a Somalia-born former Dutch Member of Parliament, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, antisemitism and Holocaust denial were a part of their education by teachers and family.

“Growing up as a child in Saudi Arabia, I remember my teachers, my mom and our neighbors telling us practically on a daily basis that Jews were evil, the sworn enemies of Muslims whose only goal was to destroy Islam. We were never informed about the Holocaust.
Later in Kenya, as a teenager, when Saudi and other Gulf philanthropy reached us in Africa, I remember that the building of mosques and donations to hospitals and the poor went hand in hand with the cursing of Jews. Jews were said to be responsible for the deaths of babies, epidemics like AIDS, for the cause of wars. They were greedy and would do absolutely anything to kill us Muslims. And if we ever wanted to know peace and stability we would have to destroy them before they would wipe us out. For those of us who were not in a position to take arms against the Jews it was enough for us to cup our hands, raise our eyes heavenward and pray to Allah to destroy them.”

“Confronting Holocaust Denial,” International Herald Tribune, December 15, 2006

Children’s television program in the West Bank and Gaza, 2007 enlarge image
Children’s television program in the West Bank and Gaza, 2007

Source: Bacon Jihad

In the West Bank and Gaza, in early 2007, Hamas produced a children’s television program featuring Farfour, a Mickey Mouse look-alike that encouraged violent attacks, including suicide bombings, against Israel and preached Islamic domination over Jews and others. The show’s final episode, “Tomorrow’s Pioneers,” which aired on Al-Aqsa television on June 29, 2007, featured Jewish agents beating the Mickey Mouse character to death.

Burned-out building, attack in Mumbai, 2008 enlarge image
Burned-out building, attack in Mumbai, 2008

Source: Crownheights.info

Attack in Mumbai, 2008

In November 2008, 10 Pakistani members of Lashkar-e-Taiba, an Islamic militant organization, carried out a series of twelve coordinated shooting and bombing attacks lasting four days across Mumbai. The Jewish Community Centre Nariman House that was attacked had a school, a synagogue, offered drug prevention services and a hostel. The building was attacked and six of its occupants, including Rabbi Holtzberg and his wife, who was five months pregnant, were killed. Their two-year-old son Moshe survived the attack after being rescued by his Indian nanny.

Supermarket attacked in Paris, January 9, 2015 enlarge image
Supermarket attacked in Paris, January 9, 2015

Source: Time

Kosher supermarket attack in Paris, 2015

On January 9, 2015, shoppers at a kosher supermarket in Paris were taken hostage by Amedy Coulilbay who then killed four people, all Jews. He pledged allegiance to ISIL (ISIS) saying it was revenge for Syria and Western actions in Mali, Iraq and Afghanistan. A Muslim shop assistant, Lassana Bathily was hailed as a hero for hiding 15 people in a cold storage container during the crisis as well as assisting police after he escaped. Thanks to a key provided by Bathily, police were able to storm the store and killed the gunman.

Seven thousand Jews had already left France in 2014 due to a sharp rise in antisemitic incidents throughout the country, such as in 2006, the murder of Ilan Halimi and in 2012, the attack on a Jewish school in Toulouse. In 2014 alone, 851 incidents were recorded. Most Jews having been leaving for Israel but many also to Quebec, about 4,000 a year since 2004.
Jews in France Ponder Whether to Stay or to Leave

Action 4


Antisemitism on the rise

Research the statistics of Jews fleeing France in the past 5 years? Why are they fleeing and where are they going? Do you think governments around the world should do more to protect and defend their Jewish citizens? Do you believe that hate toward Jews leads to hate toward other minority groups and to general xenophobia?

Research the Nazi German occupation of Denmark in the Second World War and learn how the Holocaust failed there. Then compare it to the current antisemitism and racism occurring in that country.

May 2, 2018

Remarks by the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas about the causes of 20th century antisemitism in Europe were sharply criticized as antisemitic. They drew widespread condemnations from Israel and around the world. In rambling remarks that were part of a long speech to the Palestinian Authority parliament, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said it was the Jews’ “social function,” including money lending that caused animosity toward them in Europe. He also portrayed the creation of Israel as a European colonial project, saying “history tells us there is no basis for the Jewish homeland.”

The comments drew criticism that Abbas perpetuated antisemitic stereotypes and ignored the deep Jewish historical connections to the Holy Land. Yad Vashem, the World Holocaust Remembrance Center said in a statement that Abbas’ speech was “replete with antisemitic tropes and distortions of historical facts” and accused the Palestinian president of “blatantly falsifying history to the point of accusing the Jewish victims as being responsible for their own murder. Abbas has since retracted his statements.

Holocaust Denial

The most notorious of Holocaust deniers in Canada was Ernst Zundel who was extradited to Germany in 2005. In 2007 he was convicted by a German court and sentenced to 5 years for denying the Holocaust. He died in August 2017. Prior to his extradition, Zundel lived in Toronto for about 40 years during which time he often argued in court for the freedom to express his antisemitic views in books, pamphlets and online. He questioned whether 6 million Jews had actually died in the Holocaust and was also connected to white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. He protested outside his home with the sign, “Holocaust is a lie. There was no Jewish Holocaust!” A Holocaust survivor from Poland, Gerda Frieberg lost 172 family members in the Holocaust. She asked, “Can anyone imagine the pain he inflicted on survivors after losing their entire families?” A Federal Court judge ruled that Zundel was a threat to national security and when deported to his country of birth, he was immediately arrested and held without bail. Holocaust denial can be prosecuted as a hate crime in Canada.

In January 2018, Monika Schaefer, from Jasper, Alberta (Canadian-born and of German descent) was arrested in Germany for Holocaust denial. In Germany, Holocaust denial is a criminal offence and sentencing can be up to five years in prison. In July 2016, Schaefer became infamous for a YouTube video in which she described the Holocaust as “the biggest and most pernicious and persistent lie in all of history.” She also claimed that six million Jews did not die at the hands of Nazi Germany and refers to the Holocaust as “the six-million lie.” Another disturbing fact is that she was a candidate for the Green Party in the Alberta riding of Yellowhead in 2006, 2008 and 2011 federal elections and campaigned with Elizabeth May. After the video controversy, she was subsequently ousted from the party. Both Alberta and Canadian human rights commissions filed hate speech complaints against her.

In Canada, there has been Holocaust denial in many Arab language publications such as community publications distributed in grocery stores and coffee shops, a new and frightening trend. A newspaper in the Windsor, Ontario area encourages terrorism against Israelis, calling it a “sacred duty of jihad.” In London, Ontario another Arabic newspaper printed an article claiming, “Nazi slaughter of Jews was justified.”

Your Ward News, a Toronto-area publication, is currently known for printing hate content attacking Jews, Muslims, women and other minority groups.
The editor has now been charged with hate crimes and labelled racist, homophobic, and sexist. Issues of the paper have glorified Hitler and shown Jews as dogs, used the n-word and other racial slurs. Despite facing legal action, the editors are determined to continue circulating.

Prince William, Duke of Cambridge, future king of Britain, visited Israel for the first time in June 2018. After touring Yad Vashem, the museum in Jerusalem that memorializes the murder of European Jews in the Holocaust, he wrote this:

It is almost impossible to comprehend this appalling event in history. Every name, photograph and memory recorded here is a tragic reminder of the unimaginable human cost of the Holocaust and the immense loss suffered by the Jewish people … we must not forget the Holocaust – the murder of 6 million men, women and children, simply because they were Jewish.”

Action 5


Holocaust Denial

We live in a time of fake news where facts are questioned and false information is easily shared. Why would someone deny the Holocaust when there is so much survivors’ testimony in addition to physical evidence it happened? Germany does not deny the Holocaust so how can someone in other countries be believed when they deny it? Divide the class into groups of 3 to 5 students and choose one or more of the following questions to research and discuss:

a) Why would someone deny the Holocaust when there is so much survivors’ testimony in addition to physical evidence that it happened?

b) Compare and contrast Canada's and Germany's laws against Holocaust denial. Why do you think Germany takes Holocaust denial so seriously?

c) What are the repercussions of spreading such a lie about the Holocaust?


Xenophobia – the fear or dislike of foreigners or people who are different from oneself. The term comes from the Greek words xénos meaning stranger and phóbos meaning fear.

Action 6


Preventing xenophobia

Canada is a new and still-growing country with a population comprised of immigrants. Most big cities and towns are very diverse and there a few places that are completely homogenous.

Has Canada been successful in integrating newcomers? If you worked for our government, how would you make sure that xenophobia doesn’t take place in our country? Write a letter to your constituents who voted for you, how you plan to integrate newcomers and prevent xenophobia in Canada.

Unit 6 Living Together in Today's World

Chapter 2 Cyberbullying

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Ask yourself:

  • How do you use technology to communicate, socialize, collaborate and research topics while developing your knowledge, critical and creative thinking strategies and ethical social skills?
  • How can you become a responsible digital citizen who respects the legal rights and privacy of others?

When surfing the Internet you need to be aware of your safety and security. You probably know how to make optimal use of your computer, mobile phone and tablet. You also need to distinguish between responsible online behavior and the legal, psychological and emotional consequences of irresponsible, hurtful online behavior. Cyberbullying, a harmful online behavior, is a growing international phenomenon.

Imagine coming home from school, grabbing a snack, turning on your computer only to discover numerous hurtful comments and several pictures of you at awkward moments during the last few days. You feel overwhelmed by the magnitude of the hurtful messages and pictures. You are crushed, sad and angry because you thought you had lots of friends. Why would they do this to me? What's wrong with me? You feel vulnerable and exposed in your own room, your safe haven from the world. And you don't know who sent this mean, hurtful, nasty junk. How can you react when your attackers are unknown? How can you return to school when you are sure that everyone has seen or heard about what happened? How can you be interested in hanging out with friends at the mall, the park or Cineplex? Who can you really trust? Should you tell anyone? Who? How do you complete your schoolwork when a knot in your stomach makes it impossible to concentrate? Your nights are restless with the cruel words and images racing through your mind. How do you deal with your already busy life with this additional burden of anxiety and stress?

Sergeant Brian Trainor – retired police officer talks about cyberbullying

Here are the facts

In the twenty-first century rapidly changing technologies are transforming many aspects of our daily lives. These new technologies, software and innovative applications are an integral, important, ubiquitous part of your world. Cyberspace is a hectic, busy place:

  • In Canada 83% of teenagers own or share a computer compared to 93% in the United States and 70% in the United Kingdom
  • Mobile phones have become a popular device for communication and connecting to the Internet with at least 70% of Canadian teenagers and 78% of United States teenagers owning cell phones
  • Young people 8-18 report talking on a cell phone for an average of 33 minutes on a typical day
  • Teens also receive and send text messages, or "texts". Girls report sending and receiving about 132 texts per day, whereas boys receive and send about 94 text messages
  • Boys spend more time per day on the computer playing games while girls spend more time visiting social network sites. But all teens equally like to visit social networking sites
  • Teenagers report on average spending 2.9 hours doing schoolwork online compared with 3.4 hours offline
  • The number of teens using Twitter is growing significantly
  • Ownership of different brands of tablets is also increasing
  • Canadians now spend more time online (18 hours per week) than watching television (16.9 hours per week)

Think about how you use technology:

  • To communicate and socialize with close friends or online friends around the world
  • Accumulate data and research information to complete school assignments
  • Research and purchase products, new or used
  • Find jobs
  • Use mobile technology to take and exchange pictures and videos, and text others
  • Play online video games, watch television shows and films, YouTube clips, listen and purchase music and music videos
  • Collaborate, create and post online content. Blogs, Wikis, podcasts, YouTube clips, websites and short films enable them to share ideas, images and information with a wider audience and receive responses about your creative endeavors
  • Connect in groups with others of the same age who have similar interests such as: musical groups, sports teams, clothing designers, celebrities, gamers or fellow gear heads
  • Multi-task on a range of platforms, e.g. game consoles, computers, tablets or smart phones

Exploring and embracing the many positive benefits of modern technology is great. But participating in online activities and communities also comes with responsibilities and consequences.

An Analogy

For example, for most of you, the day you pass the driver's test is a monumental occasion. Driving provides a sense of freedom, not having to rely on others and the key to new occupational and recreational experiences. But drivers are also expected to drive safely, know and obey the motor vehicle laws for their province or state. Hopefully they will also adhere to many courteous and thoughtful driving behaviours. Failure to follow these laws can result in citations, fines and suspended licenses. Reckless and dangerous driving behaviour too often results in death.

Be smart and be safe!

When surfing the Internet you also have to be aware of your safety and security. You need to distinguish between responsible online behavior and the legal, psychological and emotional consequences of irresponsible, hurtful online behaviour.

Cyberbullying, a harmful online behaviour is a growing international phenomenon among people your age. There are numerous definitions of cyberbullying. Some are broad definitions that include almost every possible type of online harassment. Others are specific examples of hurtful behavior. A Google search for "cyberbullying definitions" located over 600,000 hits. The search included definitions for young people, parents, teachers, Wikipedia information, dictionary examples e.g. Oxford, Merriam-Webster online dictionary, and legal definitions.

Two teens snicker while holding their cell phones behind a visibly upset girl holding her phone. enlarge image
Cyberbullying victim

Source: Getty Images


Cyberbullying: Sending or posting harmful material or engaging in other forms of social aggression using the Internet or other digital technologies. These online communications can be vicious. Cyberbullying can be 24/7. Damaging text and images can be widely disseminated and impossible to fully remove. Teens are reluctant to tell adults for fear of overreaction, restriction from online activities, and possible retaliation by the cyberbully.
Source: Nancy Willard, 2007
Cyberbullying is when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online or while using cell phones or other electronic devices.
Source: Patchin & Hinduja, 2012

Key Concepts: Recognized Forms of Cyberbullying

Harassment: Harassment occurs when an individual or a large group repeatedly sends distasteful, hurtful messages to one targeted individual.

Denigration: Denigration is spreading gossip or making up rumors, posting or sending materials that are untrue or cruel. The intention is to disrupt friendships or harm the reputation of a person.

Impersonation: Impersonation occurs when a young person obtains or knows someone’s password to an Internet account. Masquerading as the owner of the password the impersonator has the means to say or post harmful words or materials that could ruin a reputation or disrupt friendships.

Outing and Trickery: Outing is sharing publically personal information or images to embarrass an individual. Trickery, a component of outing, occurs when the target believes the personal information or image in an email or text sent to one person or a select group of friends and will not be forwarded to others. 

Exclusion/Ostracism: Being a member of numerous social media sites or online games is common with many young people. For many reasons an individual can easily be excluded or dropped from a group. Not belonging or being an outcast from an online social group can have a devastating impact on a young adolescent or teenager.

Flaming: Flaming involves the exchange of cruel, rude, insulting, crude and sometimes threatening exchanges between two individuals or small groups. These arguments usually take place in a public domain such as discussion boards of games. Sometimes bystanders try to end or escalate the argument.

Happy Slapping: Happy slapping involves the recording, usually on a mobile phone, of an assault on an individual or a fight. The video is circulated so that anyone in a school or community can witness the physical altercation.

Cyber stalking: Cyber stalking occurs when an individual or small group repeatedly sends hurtful, threatening, intimidating or extremely distasteful messages to another person. The sender(s) wants to degrade the target, by damaging his or her reputation and current friendships. The intimidating messages are sent through personal communications although the stalker may try to hide his or her identity. Cyber stalking sometimes occurs after an angry breakup or the termination of a friendship.

The Victims:

Almost anyone can be cyberbullied, from the most popular outgoing teenager to quiet timid individuals who barely make an impression on their classmates. Shariff (2008) reports that teachers, administrators and school support staff have also been victimized by cyberbullying. Similar to traditional bullying, cyberbullying victims are often perceived as being different. Some do not or cannot adhere to any of the current trends in clothing. Others are not associated with a certain group e.g. a sports team, the skate boarders or a dance group. Students who struggle with learning or have behavioral issues are more likely to experience cyberbullying. (Hinduja and Patchin, 2012) Twice as many lesbian, gay, and transgendered (LGBT) students than heterosexual students experience cyberbullying.

Some Victims of Cyberbullying in Canada:

In Nova Scotia - Rehtaeh Parsons

In British Columbia - Amanda Todd

In Saskatchewan - Todd Loik


The Prevalence of Cyberbullying
  • In Canada 34% of students in grades 7-11 have been cyberbullied (Media Awareness Network);
  • In a review of 35 published papers between 5% and 72% (average 24.4%) of young people experienced cyberbullying;
  • Other studies estimated from 6% to 30% of teens have been victims of some form of cyberbullying;
  • In England 25% of young people aged 11-19 have been bullied on the Internet,
  • Hinduja and Patchin (2012) found about 17% of young people admit to cyberbullying others.
Sign saying No Cyberbullying
Results of surveys
  • Although anyone can be a victim of cyberbullying, this behaviour seems to be most prominent during the middle school years.
  • However, online harassment continues in secondary schools.
  • Both genders engage in cyberbullying and academic research suggests that it is more prevalent in females.
  • Gaming is the most popular activity for males online whereas communication is the most popular activity for females.
  • Flaming and exclusion are the more common types of male cyberbullying.
  • Denigration and outing/trickery types are more common among females. (Willard 2007 reports)
  • More males report being cyberbullied than females but more females are likely to inform adults about their online harassment experiences.
  • Young people from different racial backgrounds report taking part in cyberbullying at comparable rates (Hinduja and Patchin, 2008.)
  • Only 5% of middle school students reported cyberbullying to an adult or teacher.
The question is: WHY do some young people participate in cyberbullying?
Possible Motives
  1. Revenge - most common reported reason
  2. Jealousy – also common
  3. Anger, frustration and trying to right a wrong
  4. Victims themselves -Young people who have been targets of various forms of traditional bullying or cyberbullying by the “mean girls” or “tough guys” can stand up for themselves or others while remaining anonymous.
  5. To maintain powerful social standing
  6. Boredom - for entertainment and amusement without considering the hurtful consequences
  7. Enhance social status - A creative but degrading video clip may be considered cool by others and increase popularity
  8. Young people involved in cyberbullying may believe their actions are a common behaviour and socially acceptable.
Harmful effects
  • Negative emotional and psychological effects.
  • Feeling angry, sad, frustrated, depressed, and heightened social anxiety.
  • Lower self- esteem and report more suicidal thoughts (offenders and victims).
  • Higher rates of school absences, substance abuse, aggressive behavior, and physical ailments such as headaches or stomach aches (as reported by Kowalski and Limber - 2010).
Comparing traditional bullying and cyberbullying

Bullying and cyberbullying are both acts of aggression. Both often take place without the knowledge and supervision of adults. These acts of aggression can occur over a period of time. Cyberbullying and bullying are about relationships and individuals with unequal amounts of power.

Traditional bullyingCyberbullying
Traditional bullying Cyberbullying
Takes place when a more powerful person attacks a less powerful victim. Victim worries about parents, teachers and other adults overreacting and taking away or placing restrictions on their mobile phones, computers, tablets and Internet access. Not being able to communicate or socialize with their friends, would cause you to feel cut off from your world; is like sucking cyber oxygen out of your life.
The attack can be physical: hitting, kicking, pushing, wrestling, verbal: name calling, insulting, put-downs, or psychological: spreading rumors, social exclusion or extortion. A perpetrator of cyberbullying does not have to be physically or verbally intimidating and is typically anonymous.
The individual or group of bullies is known to the victim. The cyberbully does not observe the suffering or pain of the target and does not receive immediate feedback about his or her hurtful actions.
Takes place in and around schools with some bystanders observing the bullying. Perpetrators do not believe they will be identified and punished therefore they can act in more cruel ways online.
  Content can remain on the Internet for an extended period of time.
  Social media such as Facebook, YouTube, websites and smart phones are common venues and mediums.

Source:Willard (2008)

Canadian Bullying Statistics

Should I report cyberbullying?

Victims of bullying are often reluctant to talk about their experiences because they perceive the bullying might become worse. It is critical to learn and understand the consequences of cyberbullying and especially the local laws against it.

Action 1  

Do >

Online survey

Create an online survey dealing with cyberbullying within your school. Ask questions to find out what students know about the nature of cyberbullying, personal experiences with cyberbullying, and the many consequences of this online behavior. Include questions about their gender, age, and use of technology but have the students remain anonymous. Compare your findings with the other reports. How would you account for any significant differences?

Action 2  

Do >

Responsibility, Recognition

In a small group design a Venn diagram that illustrates the differences and similarities of traditional bullying and cyberbullying. Share your diagram with other groups.

On Becoming A Responsible Digital Citizen

In the 21st century with the pervasive nature of technology, cyberbullying is a challenge for you and your peers. This behavior that often takes place in non-school settings can have a negative influence on learning and a school's atmosphere. There is not a "silver bullet" solution for addressing this online behavior. Rather it requires a pro-active response that enables you to become a responsible digital citizen. Responsible digital citizens know about privacy and invading other people's privacy. They carefully guard their personal information such as their name, cell number, home and e-mail addresses. Personal information about relationships or problems shared online can leave you in a vulnerable position. Responsible digital citizens know how and with whom to discuss intimate information.

Action 3 

Do >

Identity and Theft

Work with a partner as an Internet Security Specialists. List a number of practical strategies for protecting your identity when working on the Internet. Design a pamphlet creatively outlining your ideas for other students.

Laws in Cyberspace

In democratic societies there are a number of laws to protect citizens. There are also protections for their freedoms and rights. What happens when you are in cyberspace? How are you protected? What are your rights? A responsible digital citizen has knowledge about the laws, freedoms and rights in virtual environments. There is a developing body of work taking place dealing with the legal issues addressing cyberbullying, its impact on young people and learning in schools.

Although the laws in many countries stem from British Common Law, emerging laws relating to cyberbullying vary in different countries. Young people and teachers have an opportunity to investigate together how the law in their country, province or state addresses cyberbullying. Shariff (2008) suggests that together they can develop a legal literacy. You can come to understand which forms of cyberbullying would be addressed by civil law (a private case between two parties) or a criminal law (crimes against the state).

  • In online environments, when is a person engaging in slander, a potential libel case or creating an unsafe environment?
  • How are harassment and defamatory libel defined under the Criminal Code or other laws?
  • How is the freedom of expression balanced with an individual’s right to be free from irresponsible, hurtful speech, the disclosure of personal information, psychological and emotional distress brought on by the intentional harmful actions of others?

Just saying, " I didn't know…." is not good enough for when someone is confronted with the legal consequences of his or her acts of cyberbullying. Responsible citizens know they are accountable for their actions in cyberspace.

Action 4 

Do >

Mock trial dramatic presentation

Learn about the laws and regulations regarding cyberbullying in your school district, province/state and the federal laws. Then create a dramatic presentation dealing with a trial of an individual accused of being a cyberbully. Your audience should be able to clearly understand:

  • Why the cyberbullying took place
  • The nature of the online harassment
  • The duration of the cyberbullying and
  • The psychological and emotional impact of this experience.

Different students play different roles e.g. the perpetrator, the target, lawyers, witnesses, the judge etc. The drama should clearly demonstrate to the audience how the laws apply to cyberbullying and the consequences for inappropriate online behavior.



Netiquette is a code of behavior people follow in online environments.
Young people abiding to these social guidelines respect other people’s rights and well-being.

Action 5  

Think >

Responsibility in a digital age

Read the following paragraphs and decide who is demonstrating responsible online behavior:

  • Sonia received an email that left her basking in a sea of emotions. She quickly wrote a response but decided to follow the “24 Hours Rule” before sending her reply. The next day after thinking about the email, she revised her response to avoid the possibility of regretting her initial reaction.
  • Some teenagers consider themselves to be the smartest, most knowledgeable person they know in a particular area. Rui adopted the persona of the “school’s technical genius,” therefore nobody could trace his hacking, or cyberbullying activities.
  • Many people send provocative emails or pictures to others. These images, videos or messages can quickly be circulated to a wider often unknown audience. And they can remain on the Internet for a long period of time.

A “technical genius” or hacker needs to keep in mind the numerous Internet security specialists around the world who have successfully developed sophisticated procedures for detecting the identity of online participants. Ultimately he or she will get caught and there will be consequences because cyberbullying is against the law.

An analogy of the consequences of impulsive behaviour is the case of Laura and James who decided to get matching tattoos. Two years later they both regretted their hasty decision. Tats can sometimes be removed but it is often an expensive painful experience.

Think long-term about what you post or say online! Some online images can become a source of shame and embarrassment, particularly when they cannot be removed.

Digitally responsible citizens develop and adhere to a netiquette that guides their online communication, and behaviors.

Action 6  

Discuss >

Ethical digital citizenship

Locate several netiquette Web resources online. In small groups develop your own code of online behaviour.

The Internet is a powerful tool to enhance learning, thinking, communicating and socializing. Responsible digital citizens know how to behave ethically while using technology to enhance their lives.


A. Cyberbullying 411
- Answers questions about cyberbullying.

B. Cyber Mentors
- Offers assistance for victims of bullying and cyberbullying.

C. Digizen.org
- Encourages teens to become responsible digital citizens.

D. MediaSmarts
- Strategies for fighting cyberbullying