At the end of this strategy, students will understand the effectiveness of the negotiations carried out in Ottawa that saw the inclusion of Manitoba into Confederation under the terms of the inhabitants of Red River. Students will be able to compare the conflict in 1869–70 with other conflicts in history that deal with issues such as geopolitics, religion, and resources.
3.1: Why did the Métis resist the westward expansion of Canada and what were the consequences?
Historical Thinking Concepts:
5. Take a historical perspective
6. Understand the ethical dimensions of history
When the students arrive, ask them what they know about a contemporary issue in which a group is being denied their rights.
If students have a limited amount of knowledge of the conflict, you can show them interactive maps and infographics charts. It is critical that educators, despite personal opinions, allow students to draw their own conclusions.
Ask students how they would handle the negotiations if they were in charge of finding a possible solution. What would they have to take into consideration? Can they look at both sides objectively?
Following this discussion, ask the students if there are similarities between contemporary Métis conflicts and the conflict in 1869–70 between Red River and Canada. What were the residents of Red River negotiating for?
Your students may not know much about the negotiators sent to Ottawa. First, have them look up the three negotiators on the Manitoba Historical Society’s Memorable Manitobans site. You can have groups create biographies on flip chart paper that can then be presented and displayed in the classroom so they may be referred to throughout the lesson.
Next, students will need to understand Canada’s motives and the demands of the LAA. Desmond Morton provides a summary of both sides of the negotiations in his work A Short History of Canada (99–106) or find other sources such as Grade 11 textbook Shaping Canada. A graphic organizer might be useful here for some students in order to separate and make sense of the two positions. This could also be done as a class on an interactive whiteboard. Next, have students look specifically at the Métis Bill of Rights. Were these demands realistic? Were they justified? Why or why not?
You could also compare the Métis Bill of Rights with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Canadian Bill of Rights (1960). What is similar? What is different?
Now that students are aware of past and contemporary conflicts, create a series of debates in your class. The teacher can come up with these, or create them as a class. Have students choose which side they would like to be on and then have them create arguments based on the ARE model (Argument, Reasoning, Evidence). You can set up the debates in a variety of manners, but a simple framework would be as follows:
- Preliminary Statements (Stating the Case) — Affirmative
- Preliminary Statements (Stating the Case) — Negative
- Rebuttal — Affirmative
- Rebuttal — Negative
- Closing Statements — Negative
- Closing Statements — Affirmative
You can do this within the class itself or via voice recording applications.
As the speaker, the teacher should ensure that timelines are adhered to and that people are being polite and respectful.
Record the debates via video or via a voice-capturing application. Have groups of debaters listen to their debates and critique their own performance based on a criteria that you have developed as a learning community. Guiding Questions might include: What did you learn about peace, conflict, and negotiations? What did you learn about history? What did you learn about yourselves as historians? What did you learn about how history is written? Have students reflect on these questions via a journal or a blog, or in an interview with you. You can provide them with feedback through a variety of means, depending on how you have negotiated your assessment tool with your group.