Teaching About Victoria Day

Posted by Nancy Callan on 28 April 2014 | 0 Comments

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Each year when I teach about Victoria Day, some students ask “When will Canada grow up?” Having a head of state determined by birth, living a privileged life in palaces, is archaic and unjust they argue. Severing ties with the British monarchy, however, is not an inevitable step in the evolution of Canadian nationhood.

Canada follows a form of government called Constitutional Monarchy where our head of state is apolitical. One misconception is that the monarchy is costly. In fact, Canadians spend under $2 per person per year (a total of a little over $50 million) towards this form of governance, with much of the money going towards maintaining associated government buildings, travel, and honouring Canadians who have made outstanding contributions. The Queen herself does not receive a dime from Canadians. Having an elected President to fill this role, as Germany and France do, would likely cost us more.

In my classes, I explain that Victoria Day is not just the beginning of camping season or the birthday of a long dead monarch. It is also the day we celebrate the birthday of the reigning monarch, at present Queen Elizabeth. With intermediate students, I like to also use the Victoria Day jigsaw in Callan's Holiday Jigsaws 2 to discuss Victorian morality. Students from countries with stricter social mores are often surprised to learn Canada was not always so socially liberal. Great conversations ensue when we all compare the social mores of our great grandparents' generation with our own.

With beginner classes, I teach the names of the members of the Royal Family and take advantage of the opportunity to teach the rules of capitalization. Here below is part of the Victoria Day unit from Callan's Canadian Holidays for Low Beginner ESL. Feel free to click on the images below to download the exercises for use in your own classroom. Also in the unit, not present below, is a Victoria Day Wordle and a couple cloze passages which can be used with or without the audio CD.


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