Canadians of Chinese Descent Educational Package

Cover of the September 2023 issue of Kayak.

Oppressed, poor and starving, thousands of Chinese people left their country in the mid-1800s. Many came to Canada hoping to solve their misfortunes. Few did. Instead, Chinese immigrants faced hardship and racism

The reward they got for helping build Canada’s transcontinental railway was a series of discriminatory laws and head taxes, and eventually the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1923. One hundred years later, these once unwanted non-citizens have struggled to survive and eventually thrive, from those who established restaurants all over Canada to hockey heroes

Meet the Victoria residents who refused to be segregated into Chinese-only schools, a Chinese-Indigenous couple based on real people, and the guest co-editor for this special issue, Debbie Jiang

Discover these little-known stories and more in the September Kayak.


This educator’s guide has been developed to help support teachers in using this issue of Kayak in their classrooms and aligns with the themes of existence, struggle, survival, and celebration.

All lessons are based on the use of primary sources and centre on the historical thinking concepts. The lessons are suitable for grades 5/6 through 9/10 and are easily adaptable for different levels. To further support teachers, a background information document and supplemental reading/watching list have been included.

Download the PDF of this guide.

We would like to thank Flora Fung and Debbie Jiang for their contributions to this guide. We are also grateful to the Department of Canadian Heritage for their support.

Lesson Plans

Primary Sources relating to Canadians of Chinese Ancestry

In this lesson, students will work with a variety of primary sources and analyze each source for knowledge and meaning.

Analyzing the Impact of Policy on Chinese Immigration through Primary Sources

In this lesson, students will analyze primary sources relating to policies that affected Chinese immigration to Canada and the lives of Canadians of Chinese descent.

Resiliency of Chinese Immigrants and Their Descendants

In this lesson, students will analyze the ways Chinese immigrants to Canada survived and thrived despite the restrictions imposed on them.

Changemakers of Chinese Ancestry

In this lesson, students will focus on the contributions of successful Canadians of Chinese ancestry, analyze the challenges that they have overcome, and celebrate their successes.

Chinatown and its importance to Canadians of Chinese Ancestry

In this lesson, students will explore the history of Chinatown and its importance to Chinese immigrants and Canadians of Chinese ancestry.

More Kayak

Flying and Spying

Chinese-Canadian Kam Len “Doug” Sam served in the air force in the Second World War. Shot down in France, he gathered critical information as a spy for the Allies.

Flying and Spying: The Life of Kam Len Douglas Sam

Through exploring the life of Kam Len Douglas Sam, students will discover why Sam was the most decorated and highest-ranked Chinese Canadian in history.

Moments that Matter

Have students create a timeline of Chinese immigration to Canada and pick the five events that they consider to be the most historically important — then submit their work for a chance to win a free one-year subscription to Kayak!