On Tuesday, October 17, 2017, Tamarac Education Centre’s Grade 7 and 8 French Immersion students, along with their teachers Lisa McNamara and Stephanie Sampson, travelled to Halifax for a hands-on social studies experience. Thanks to funding received through the Ruth Goldbloom Educational Bursary Fund, they toured Pier 21 and participated in a simulation workshop where they adopted the role of an immigrant but were unaware of their country of origin. During the simulation exercise, to gain admittance to Canada, they were subjected to a series of questions by immigration officers regarding their motives for coming to Canada and about what work they would be doing. Some students were easily admitted to the country and charged little or no money. While others had some challenges, were detained or even rejected. An excellent discussion followed this exercise during which students discovered not only their country of origin but also the discrimination that immigrants faced based on their ethnic/cultural identity and/or nationality.
Following the visit to Pier 21, students participated in a guided tour of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly, observed from the public gallery Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) for Pictou East and opposition member Tim Houston critiquing funding for education. While the students were in the gallery, they were publically acknowledged by MLA for Richmond, Alana Paon, which was one of the highlights of the day. Before leaving the House, the group had the opportunity to meet both Ms. Paon and MLA for Inverness, Allan MacMaster.
The visit was an amazing learning opportunity for students to expand their knowledge of Canadian history and government beyond the four walls of a classroom. The visit to Pier 21 and the Nova Scotia House of Assembly were planned to foster in students a spirit of acceptance of all individuals and an appreciation of the democratic process.