Centre Block Redux

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General steps:

This project asks students to diversify the symbols featured on the Parliament buildings (Centre block) to better reflect both our historical roots (especially the role of First Nations in the founding of our country) and our modern day Canadian society. I created this project after a recent trip to Ottawa where I noticed that the Parliament buildings featured many examples of English, Irish, Scottish and French symbolism, but lacked any reference to First Nations and other cultural groups.

Driving question: Do the symbols featured in and around Centre Block truly represent who we are as Canadians?  

Step 1: Students will examine what symbols are currently featured on and in Centre Block. The goal of this part is for students to identify what these symbols represent and to assess why they were chosen to be featured on the building.
Step 2:  Students will then consider other groups who have played a role in the shaping of Canada, the various waves of different immigrants arriving in the country, and the modern composition of Canadian society Students will then research cultural and historical symbols that have represented these populations. Reflecting on the driving question, students will evaluate which symbols to feature in the redesigning of Centre Block and in what way.
Step 3: Students will create (through sketch, models, or using an online design program such as minecraft) their new design for Centre Block incorporating the symbols of their choosing. Architects and designers may be brought into the class at this point to assist students with their vision.
Step 4: Students will present their design to the class and/or a panel ensuring that they answer these three essential questions:

• Which symbols from the original Centre Block did you choose to keep, and why?
• Which new symbols did you choose to feature, and why?
• How do the symbols featured in and around your Centre Block truly represent who we are as Canadians?

Suggested Resources:

Public Works and Government Services of Canada: History & Architecture of Centre Block

Public Works and Government Services of Canada: The Fire of 1916

Collections Canada: Archived – Canada by Design: Parliament Hill, Ottawa 

The Canadian Encyclopedia: Parliament Buildings

Canadian Heritage : National Symbols

Statistics Canada: One hundred years of immigration to Canada 

Statistics Canada: Ethnic Diversity and Immigration

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LESSON RESOURCES (Click on the link)


Centre Block Redux

Bronwen Davies


Winnipeg, Manitoba

This project involves the creative task of redesigning of Centre Block to better incorporate Canadian symbols.

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