BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

Black Lives Matter

Grade 11


Black Lives Matter

Big Idea

Social justice initiatives can transform individuals and systems (from Social Justice 12).

Essential Question

How can understanding implicit bias and systemic racism help us address racial injustices?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • methods used by individuals, groups, and organizations to promote social justice (adapted from Social Justice 12)

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to do the following:

  • Assess the significance of people, places, events, phenomena, ideas, or developments (significance)

Core Competencies

I am able to define implicit bias and systemic racism.

I can analyze the significance of legislation and policies and determine their impact on historical and contemporary racial inequality.

I can explain why it is necessary to raise awareness of racism in Canada and to take action for justice.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning involves generational roles and responsibilities.
  • Use the Barometer Strategy to have students demonstrate their opinions on the following statements:
  • Racism is an American problem not a Canadian problem.
  • Canada has a history of racial injustices.
  • Anti-black racism exists in Canada today.

Part 1: Racial Identity and Racism

  • Explain that everyone has a racial identity. Sometimes white racial identity is seen as the “default” and people mistakenly think only minorities have a race. It is important to emphasize that all people have experiences with race. People might experience those encounters with race directly, witness them happening to others, or have opportunities, or privileges, as a result of their racial identity.
  • Have students respond to the following questions in a journal entry:
    • What is your earliest experience dealing with race and/or racism?
    • How did you feel while this was happening?
    • What was your response and what was the response of others around you?
    • What impact did it have on you? What did you learn from the experience?
    • Did the encounter change you in some way, and if so, how?
  • Divide students into four groups and provide each group with a different story from the New York Times First Encounters with Racism. Provide time for students to silently read their assigned stories.
  • Have students meet with their group to discuss their story:
    • What happened?
    • What was the young person’s response?
    • How did their encounter with racism affect/change them?
    • What is your personal reaction to this story?
  • Have each group report on the story they read.
  • Then lead a whole class discussion of the following questions:
  • What did you learn that you didn’t know before?
  • Did anything challenge what you know or thought you knew?
  • How did each of the people’s encounters with racism affect or change them?
  • How were these effects similar and different from one another?
  • What is the difference between interpersonal racism (individual acts of bias, meanness or exclusion) and systemic racism (policies and practices that are supported by power and authority and that benefit some and disadvantage others) in these stories?


Part 2: Black History in Canada

  • Show Heritage Minutes: Viola Desmond (1:00)
  • Ask: “Why was Viola arrested? What does racial segregation mean? Are you surprised that segregation laws existed in Canada in 1946 (post WWII)?”
  • Explain that in order to understand the current Black Lives Matter movement in Canada, we need to understand the history of Black people in Canada.
  • Divide students into nine small groups and assign each group one of the following topics:
    • Public Schools
    • Post-Secondary and Medical Schools
    • Housing
    • Employment
    • Military
    • Theatres
    • Restaurants and Inns
    • Recreational Facilities
    • Immigration
  • Provide groups with access to the Canadian Encyclopedia article Racial Segregation of Black People in Canada. Have groups record discriminatory practices and laws and then present these to the class.


Part 3: Systemic Racism in Canada

  • Remind students that systemic racism refers to policies and practices that are supported by power and authority and that benefit some and disadvantage others. This is also known as institutional racism.
  • Show at least one of the following videos:
  • Ask: “What policies and practices indicate systemic racism in Canada?



Part 4: Impact of Racism in Canada

  • Explain that in Canada the Charter of Rights & Freedoms and the Canadian Multiculturalism Act are two of our strongest pieces of legislation to combat racism. There are many ways in which the Government of Canada can address racism:
    • policy changes
    • providing funding to NGOs to support their efforts in addressing racism
    • collaborating with provincial governments and international institutions
    • sharing information with the public.
  • Distribute “Evidence of Racism in Canada” and have students indicate what information they already knew and which is new to them.
  • Have students select one topic from “Impact of Racism in Canada” to research. They can present their findings to the class using a Pecha Kucha slideshow with 10 slides.
  • Have students respond in a journal entry: “How can I raise awareness of racism in Canada and to take action for justice?”
  • Have students select one of the songs, listen to the song, find the lyrics online, annotate the lyrics, consider the meaning of the title and the theme(s), and explore the historical and cultural context.
  • Students should select one key lyric from their selected song that connects to Black Lives Matter and write the lyric on a piece of paper. Students can then tape their individual lyrics on the wall and discuss their songs and selected lyrics as a group.

Black Lives Matter – Canada. 2023. https://blacklivesmatter.ca/

Canada. 2018. Canada’s Anti-Racism Strategy. Canadian Heritage.


Cole, Desmond. [2017]. “The Skin We’re In.” CBC. [Documentary] [Scroll down to see this clip.]


Palmeter, Pam. 2020. Yes, Canada has a Racism Crisis and it’s Killing Black and Indigenous Peoples. Canadian Dimension.


Project Implicit. 2011. “Harvard Implicit Bias Test.” https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/selectatest.html

The Skin We’re In. [n.d.] “Docs for School.” https://media.curio.ca/filer_public/4f/a3/4fa39215-bfa5-4fb7-95b3-90de2a77ecf5/skinwereinhdguide.pdf

Spiegler, Jinnie. 2017. “First Encounters With Race and Racism: Teaching Ideas for Classroom Conversations.” The New York Times Lesson Plans.


University of British Columbia. [n.d.] Anti-Racism Resources. Faculty of Education. Teacher Education Office. https://teach.educ.ubc.ca/anti-racism-resources/



Cole, Desmond. The Skin We’re In: A Year of Black Resistance and Power. [Toronto]: Doubleday Canada, [2020]. 

Maynard, Robyn. Policing Black Lives: State Violence in Canada from Slavery to the Present. Halifax ; Winnipeg : Fernwood Publishing, [2017].

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Last Reviewed

March 01, 2023

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