Lesson One: Introduction

By: Doriane Ossene

Doriane Ossene

Education Collaborator

Doriane’s background includes education in France and learning a lot about Canada through her studies at York University in International Studies and Canadian studies, which she will be graduating from in 2023. She is passionate about stories people don’t know about and loves making them known. Her dream is to work in a field that supports underrepresented communities, in Canada and around the world.

Suggested Subject Areas


Grade Level

Adaptable across 9-12

Learning Goals

Lesson Outline 

Note: the following lesson directly addresses students while giving them instructions on how to proceed through the learning (i.e. the “you” is the student).

What is (im)migration?

Think about the term “migration” and different kinds of migrants, including asylum seekers and refugees. Have you heard these terms before? Do you know what they mean?

Reflect on these terms independently. Using your personal knowledge first and then, if necessary, a dictionary or online research, define the following terms in your own words:

Asylum seeker

You can find more information about these terms here:

Spend a few minutes reading through these resources. Update your definitions above with any additional information you learned from reading.

Next, watch the first two sections of this video:

What were your key takeaways from the video about Canada’s relationship to immigration?
Answer here:

Did you already know some of the information shared in this video before watching? If so, what was it?
Answer here:

Do you know of any individuals that have come to Canada as an immigrant, refugee, or asylum seeker? Or any communities or countries that have done so? Try to think of 3-5 examples. You can go as far back in history as you like.
Answer here:

Indigenous Peoples on this Land

Before learning more about immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers in Canada, it is important to (re)familiarize yourself with the Indigenous Peoples on this land (Turtle Island) before the state of “Canada” was created.

Read through the following sections of the Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada about First Nations, Inuit, and Métis People:

What are your key takeaways about First Nations, Inuit, and Métis people? How long have they been living on Turtle Island?
Answer here:

(Im)Migration and Canada

Read the timeline of the immigration from 1885 to 1956 in the first and second tables. 

Who are some of the groups of people immigrating to Canada during this period?
Answer here:

What do you notice about their social and economic class? Their ethnicities and countries of origin? Can you draw any inferences about who might be more likely to immigrate during this period and why?
Answer here:

In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It aimed to influence the next wave of social policies, in order to guide the transformation of social norms around the world. This also impacted the field of immigration.

You can find the numerous changes in Canada’s immigration policy following the Declaration under the title “Milestone 3: Canada’s Evolving Immigration Policy” on Canada’s Immigration History: Milestones and Stories website.

Based on your readings above, compare Canada’s policies before 1948 and afterwards. Are there similarities? Differences? Use the table below for your answer.

Policies before 1948Policies after 1948 (i.e. after the UDHR)

As a part of changing perspectives on and policies for immigration, Canada started to develop a reputation for being welcoming of immigrants, in part due to the 1971 Multiculturalism Policy and later the 1988 Multiculturalism Act. Take some time to read the Act.

Going forward in this learning series, we will see together what these policies mean for immigrants today. To do so, we will lean into the statements of the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, how the UDHR echoes within Canadian immigration policies, and concrete applications with specific cases.


Bellegarde, Perry. “Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada.” Indigenous Peoples Atlas of Canada. Accessed October 16, 2023.  

Caldararu, Alexandru, Julie Clements, Rennais Gayle, Christina Hamer, Maria MacMinn Varvos, and Lynn Sutankayo. “Canada’s Immigration History: Milestones and Stories.” Canadian Settlement in Action History and Future, December 21, 2021.

History on Maps. “Canada History – Timeline and Animation in 5 Minutes.” YouTube, March 16, 2019.  

Meister, Daniel, Emily Burton, Erica Gagnon, Jan Raska, Lindsay Van Dyk, Monica MacDonald, Patrick Kinghan, Siniša Obradovic, and Steven Schwinghamer. “Visit.” Canadian Multiculturalism Act, 1988 | Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Accessed October 16, 2023.

Phillip, Kanika. “Refugees, Asylum Seekers & Migrants: A Crucial Difference.” Habitat for Humanity GB, January 19, 2022.

United Nations. “Universal Declaration of Human Rights.” United Nations, 1948.