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The Confederation Debates: Newfoundland and Labrador Intermediate Mini-Unit

  • Histoire des peuples autochtones
  • Intermédiaire

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This mini-unit for intermediate/senior-level classes helps students to understand and analyze the key ideas and challenges that preceded Newfoundland and Labrador’s entry into Confederation. The first section deals with the debates in the provincial and/or federal legislatures, while the second section addresses more specifically founding treaty negotiations with the First Nations. Each section can be taught independently.

The activities and attached materials will help students understand the diversity of ideas, commitments, successes and grievances that underlie Canada’s founding. 

By the end of this mini-unit, your students will have the opportunity to:

1.       Use the historical inquiry process—gathering, interpreting and analyzing historical evidence and information from a variety of primary and secondary sources—in order to investigate and make judgements about issues, developments and events of historical importance. 
2.       Hone their historical thinking skills to identify historical significance, cause and consequence, continuity and change, and historical perspective.
3.       Develop knowledge of their province/region within Canada, minority rights and democracy, and appreciate the need for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples.
The mini-unit includes primary documents from prominent historical figures who contributed to the debate, such as Charles Fox Bennett.

The mini unit provides short biographies of all historical figures.

Curriculum Objectives

This mini-unit has been broadly designed for Newfoundland and Labrador intermediate/senior level
classes. The activities described in the pages, for example, fulfill the following outcomes listed in Newfoundland and Labrador’s “Social Studies Grade 7,” “Social Studies: Grade 8—Newfoundland and Labrador History” as well as “Social Studies: Canadian History 120” curriculum guides.

The mini-unit can be accessed here:


Before each province and territory became a part of Canada, their local legislatures (and the House of Commons after 1867) debated the extent, purposes and principles of political union between 1865 and 1949. In addition to creating provinces, the British Crown also negotiated a series of Treaties with Canada’s Indigenous Peoples. Although these texts, and the records of their negotiation, are equally important to Canada’s founding, as the Truth and Reconciliation Committee recently explained, “too many Canadians still do not know the history of Indigenous peoples’ contributions to Canada, or understand that by virtue of the historical and modern Treaties negotiated by our government, we are all Treaty people.”

The vast majority of these records, however, remain inaccessible and many can only be found in provincial archives. By bringing together these diverse colonial, federal and Indigenous records for the first time, and by embracing novel technologies and dissemination formats, The Confederation Debates encourages Canadians of all ages and walks of life to learn about past challenges, to increase political awareness of historical aspirations and grievances and engage present-day debates, as well as to contribute to local, regional and national understanding and reconciliation.