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In this activity…

Students consider the significance of perseverance in the context of social change. They will use a variety of sources to gather, organize, and present information about Canadian communities or people who have persevered against all odds.

And the point is…

Many students think of challenges or rejection as failure. By identifying examples of historical people or groups of people, who have faced challenges and persevered to accomplish their goal, students begin to recognize that failure is not falling down but staying down. Additionally, this activity helps students understand the importance of perseverance in their own as well as other people’s life. Understanding the power of perseverance, motivates students to apply their knowledge in their everyday life.

Materials: Computer, books


Inform students that Canadian history is marked by countless examples of perseverance. In fact, much social change is initiated by individuals who suffer grave injustices, and who refuse to let these experiences define them. This continues to be the case today.

Ask students to think about specific people or communities who have faced incredible hardships, but who continue to fight for change. Students will likely mention movements like Black Lives Matter, Me Too, or No Ban No Wall. These are all great examples of people coming together and persevering towards a common goal of justice and peace.

For this project, students select a historical Canadian figure or community at large, and use primary and secondary information from a variety of sources to describe their lives, the challenges they faced, what they were able to accomplish, and how their perseverance impacted Canada. Students can choose someone from the list provided, or they can independently select a person/community to research. Students who independently select a person/community should receive your approval before starting their research.

People Who Persevered Handout available in download section of this page.

Give students the project instructions and let them know that they will have the rest of the period to decide who they will be researching and to start working. Over the next week, give students additional class time to conduct research and/or encourage them to work on the project as homework. Every student will be responsible for creating a 5-minute PowerPoint/Google Slides presentation that, at minimum, covers the points on the project instructions. Use your judgement to determine whether students will be allowed to work on this project with a partner. This may be especially beneficial if two students are determined to research and present on the same person.

Presentation Instructions available in download section.

The following week, allocate around 2 hours to presentations. Every student will deliver their presentation and be expected to answer one or two questions from the class. After everyone has presented, conclude this lesson on perseverance with a discussion based on the following questions:

  • What general statements can be made about the importance of perseverance in an individual’s life?
  • What general statements can be made about the importance of perseverance in Canada?
  • What similarities are there between the examples of perseverance from your own life and those which were talked about in the presentations? What differences are there?
  • Did learning about the challenges people face, and reading personal stories, help you develop a greater sense of empathy?
  • Did this project inspire you to persevere in your own life?

I have never overcome an obstacle before…

If you are having trouble thinking of an example from your own life, then this might be because you are thinking “too big”. Many people disregard small examples of perseverance because they think that these examples don’t qualify or that they’re not good enough. For example, you overcome obstacles when you learn new skills, like riding a bike or how to swim, and when you are at school. You are showing perseverance when you attend an event, participate in a sport, or when you challenge yourself to do something despite feeling nervous or uncomfortable. Perseverance is a skill, and no one is expecting you to do the impossible. Try to think about small moments in your life where you proved someone else or yourself wrong; where you thought outside of the box to problem-solve or approach a situation uniquely. Also, remember that you can overcome an obstacle without winning a gold medal. Sometimes perseverance is not about climbing back to the top once you’ve reached the end of your rope; it’s about tying a knot and hanging on.

I am not comfortable presenting in front of the class…

Some students might not be comfortable with presenting in front of the entire class for legitimate reasons, such as anxiety or a fear of public speaking. If this is the case, ask to speak to the student privately and determine an alternative solution. Some options include presenting to you privately during nutrition break or recording the presentation (video or audio) when they are at home and playing the presentation during class. However, if the student is able, then this might be a great opportunity for the student to challenge themselves and practice perseverance. Remind them of their strengths and how they might be able to take a strengths-based approach or encourage them to use Real-Time Resilience skills to overcome their fears. Let the student know that you are willing to support them in any way and ask them to think about the different options. You can revisit the topic with them the next day.