Social Studies 8 – 1.2

Canadian Identity: Democratic Rights & Responsibilities

Key Questions

  • What does it mean to live in a democracy?
  • What is a right?
  • What rights and freedoms do we have in Canada?
  • What responsibilities come along with our rights?
  • How is voting both a right and a responsibility?


Handout #1: Highlights from the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
Handout #2: History of Voting Rights in Canada
Worksheet #1: Presentation Planning Sheet
Worksheet #2: Our Rights and Responsibilities
Worksheet #3: Voting Rights in Canada
Worksheet #4: The Right to Vote

Step 1:

Read the following fictional story:

Last year, there was a lot of bullying amongst the students at Harrison Public School. Students were not treating each other with respect. There was fighting, teasing and tears almost every day and it was very disruptive to the school community. Over the summer, parents, teachers, the principal and members of the school community held meetings to find a solution. After lots of discussion, it was decided that students would not be allowed to choose their own friends anymore. Instead, parents would make those decisions and teachers would enforce them.

Step 2:

Class discussion

• Why did the students lose the right to choose their own friends?
• How would you feel if you lost the right to choose your own friends?
• Would a better solution have been reached if students had been involved in the decision-making process?
• How important is it that we are allowed to make our own decisions?
• How important is it that we do so in a responsible manner?

Step 3:

What is a right?
What is a responsibility?
What are some of the rights we have in the classroom or at school?
What responsibilities come with these rights?

For example, every child has the right to learn, but every child has the responsibility to arrive at school on time and complete their homework.
The right to a safe classroom comes with the responsibility to follow the rules.

Step 4:


1. All citizens living in a democracy have guaranteed rights and freedoms. Some of these basic rights include the ability to form your own opinion and express it freely (freedom of thought and expression), the choice to worship in your own way (freedom of religion), and the right to gather and meet with one another, or to protest (freedom of assembly).

2. In 1982, the Canadian government created the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms to protect our rights. One section is dedicated to our democratic rights, which include the right of every Canadian citizen, 18 years of age and older, to participate or vote in government elections. Elections are the method of how our elected representatives and government are chosen.

3. The right to vote in Canada has changed over time. In the early days, only wealthy men who owned property/land could vote. At that time, women and people of various ethnic backgrounds could not vote. Universal suffrage is the granting of the right to vote to all adult citizens, including the removal of restrictions against women and restrictions against people of various ethnic and religious backgrounds.


Fewer and fewer people are voting in government elections. Questions to discuss:

Is the decrease in voting disrespectful to those who had to fight for their right to vote? What are the responsibilities that go along with the right to vote?

2. In groups or individually, have students design a campaign poster or PowerPoint presentation to encourage people to cast a ballot in the federal election.

You should use images and words to describe why it is important to vote.