Petition: Make Canadian History Mandatory for Grade 12 Students in Ontario
In 2014, high school students in Belleville, Ontario circulated a petition in support of making a Canadian history course mandatory at the Grade 12 level in Ontario. Students collected over 2,000 individual signatures as well as more than 30 letters of support from notable Canadians. John Ralston Saul, distinguished Canadian author, eloquently responded:
“I cannot think of another country in the Western democracies which takes so little care to teach students about the foundations of the democracy and the country in which they live. This is not a matter of choice for students or parents. It is a matter of citizen responsibility. For governments to refuse to ensure that all students are given the opportunity to understand their citizenship by understanding their history is quite simply irresponsible. I most happily and enthusiastically join in the support of your campaign to have a mandatory Canadian history course included at the Grade Twelve level.”
The initiative was begun in response to dismal survey results when Canadians were asked about their understanding of Canadian history. For example, only 34% of Canadians between the ages of 18 and 24 received a passing grade in a recent survey on Canadian history, conducted by the pollsters Ipsos and Reid. The pollsters also discovered that 76% of Canadians are embarrassed by their lack of knowledge of Canadian history. Currently, Ontario high school students are only required to take one course in Canadian history. This occurs at the Grade 10 level, and begins with Canada’s involvement in the First World War. Consequently, Ontario students graduate from high school with little knowledge of Canadian history prior to 1914. This raises significant concern, as students are expected to become active, well-informed citizens, yet often lack a rudimentary knowledge of their own history. In a country as diverse as Canada, how can Canadians share a collective identity if they lack a collective memory?
At this time, the Ontario curriculum includes an optional course in Grade 12 History entitled Canada: History, Identity, and Culture (CHI4U). The course focuses on the formation of Canadian national identity by examining themes such as citizenship and heritage, local/national/global communities, and Canadian political, economic, and social structures. By making a course such as this one mandatory at the Grade 12 level for all Ontario high school students, we can greatly increase the provincial understanding of our Canadian heritage. Perhaps a stronger focus on local history could be included, to connect Ontario’s history with that of Canada as a whole.
The Ontario Historical Society fully supports this initiative, and would like to expand upon these efforts to bring Canadian History to Grade 12 students. With your support, we can make a real difference in increasing heritage awareness within our province.
Please sign the petition below, and share this message with others.
Note: As this initiative was begun a couple of years ago, some OHS members may have signed this petition in the past. If you have already supported this cause, please refrain from signing this version in order to prevent duplicate signatures.
To review both the Grade 10 and Grade 12 history curriculum documents (Canadian and World Studies) in Ontario, visit:
The Petition to Make Canadian History Mandatory for Grade 12 Students in Ontario is hosted at Change.org