September 13

ELA A30 Section A3 – Scandals of the Past (Immigration)

Some students are about to start section A3 in the course, which recognizes all the accomplishments and successes of Canada’s past that we are well versed on, but this section also puts a magnifying glass over scandals in our history that people can go a lifetime not knowing about.

Like that British subjects once arrived on our West Coast by boat and had every right to enter Canada, which was a British dominion. However, the country at that time didn’t want “brown people”, so new laws were created specifically to keep them out. Canada, the Canadian government and its leader at the time, Stephen Harper, had to make an apology to this community of Canadians for their mistreatment in our history.

Immigration is a huge hot topic right now, not just for Canada, but world-wide.

The following poem has become quite popular to express what it’s like to be the immigrant fleeing home.


No one leaves home unless home is the mouth of a shark

Poem by poet Warsan Shire:

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be going back.

you have to understand,
that no one puts their children in a boat
unless the water is safer than the land
no one burns their palms
under trains
beneath carriages
no one spends days and nights in the stomach of a truck
feeding on newspaper unless the miles travelled
means something more than journey.
no one crawls under fences
no one wants to be beaten

no one chooses refugee camps
or strip searches where your
body is left aching
or prison,
because prison is safer
than a city of fire
and one prison guard
in the night
is better than a truckload
of men who look like your father
no one could take it
no one could stomach it
no one skin would be tough enough

go home blacks
dirty immigrants
asylum seekers
sucking our country dry
niggers with their hands out
they smell strange
messed up their country and now they want
to mess ours up
how do the words
the dirty looks
roll off your backs
maybe because the blow is softer
than a limb torn off

or the words are more tender
than fourteen men between
your legs
or the insults are easier
to swallow
than rubble
than bone
than your child body
in pieces.
i want to go home,
but home is the mouth of a shark
home is the barrel of the gun
and no one would leave home
unless home chased you to the shore
unless home told you
to quicken your legs
leave your clothes behind
crawl through the desert
wade through the oceans
be hunger
forget pride
your survival is more important

no one leaves home until home is a sweaty voice in your ear
run away from me now
i dont know what i’ve become
but i know that anywhere
is safer than here

January 12

ELA A30 Jan 12/17 B16 Arriving in Canada Today

There are discussions online by Canadians who argue Canada should not support as many immigrants as they do and instead spend more money on First Nations needs or address our Homelessness problem.

What is it really like living as an immigrant in Canada today? Are the treatments and attitudes towards them improved over how they were treated in the last 50 years?

There are a few online resources that go along with this next section, exploring what it’s like being an immigrant today in our current society.

CBC Ideas Podcast: In Their Shoes

A Day in the Life of Acsana Fernando – what is it like to step inside an immigrant woman’s daily life activities?


Comparing an Audio Text to a Visual Text: does seeing change how you take in / make connections to a topic?


December 12

ELA A30 B14 Short Story Texts – Canadian Landscape

This next section of the course specifically looks at one theme of CanLit through one genre: Canadian landscape and character relationships with the land explored through the genre of short stories.

You will soon have an assignment to develop a Canadian short story, so one of your purposes for reading is to identify techniques of the writers that you can play with to incorporate into your own writing.

The two texts we will study are linked below:

The Wedding Gift

Home Place

December 7

ELA A30 “Bartok and the Geranium” Livesay poem

Dorothy Livesay is one of Canada’s most popular and admired poets.

She wrote strong poetry during a time in history when the role of women was stereotypically to be passive, submissive, and a housewife or mate.  She caused waves and is now admired for the confidence and forcefulness her poetry includes.

The poem of “Bartok and the Geranium” is one of contrast between a soft, quiet living thing compared to a busy, aggressive, smashing living thing that interrupts the environment it invades. Read it and see if you can make comparisons of this poem to another of Canadian literature that you’ve studied recently.

You can read the poem in one piece here at this Noteography site where I have published it, or read the two images together below.





It’s also been shared on #Twitter. 

“Bartok and the Geranium”
by Dorothy Livesay (Canadian poet)

She lifts her green umbrellas
Towards the pane
Seeking her fill of sunlight
or of rain;
Whatever falls
She has no commentary
Accepts, extends,
Blows out her furbelows,
Her bustling boughs;
And all the while he whirls
Exploding in space,
Never content with this small room:
Not even can he be
Confined to sky
But must speed high and higher still
From galaxy to galaxy,
Wrench from the stars their momentary notes
Steal music from the moon.

She’s daylight
He is dark
She’s heaven-held breath
He storms and crackles
Spits with hell’s own spark.

Yet in this room, this moment now
These together breathe and be:
She, essence of serenity,
He in a mad intensity
Soars beyond sight
Then hurls, lost Lucifer,
From heaven’s height.

And when he’s done, he’s out:
She leans a lip against the glass
And preens herself in light.


December 2

ELA A30 Assignment Resources – Presenting Spoken Poetry

You’ll have an assignment where you’re asked to select a poem of at least 15 lines written by a Canadian poet of an appropriate difficulty level for Grade 12. You’ll prepare/practice your oral presentation of the poem and record it, combine that audio with image files using a multimedia program, like iMovie, and publish a polished multimedia project as a final product.

To help you get in the mindset of what proper speaking of poetry sounds like, there are resources collected here to support you.

Website of celebrities or poets presenting spoken poetry. 

  • In particular, you can listen to the very last poem spoken by actor Anthony Hopkins. Another is a Shakespeare sonnet spoken by the voice of “Darth Vader”, James Earl Jones.

Video: This resource reviews five specific things to consider when preparing to speak poetry orally.


Selecting a Canadian Poem:
There are hundreds of poems to select from on this resource page. 


November 10

ELA A30 A7.1 Assignment – Editorial Writing

One of the objectives of the A30 curriculum is for you to develop, revise, and publish an Editorial. This is very much like writing a persuasive paper. You’ll have your handouts provided for you with some resources, but here are additional resources for you to use in getting a real sense of what an Editorial is actually like. 

Sample Topics Others Have Chosen:

  • Distracted Driving in Canada
  • Water Drainage Issues for Farmers in Canada
  • Coyote Control in Rural Areas
  • Cell Phone Use in Schools (Rules in Schools)
  • Northern Youth Suicide Numbers
  • Rape Culture in Mass Media
  • Moose Culling Protested
  • Proposal for women to have to uncover their heads/faces for Gov services (Quebec)
  • Criticisms of financially supporting Syrian refugees and not homeless or F.N. quality of life
  • Carbon Tax proposed by Federal Government – implement in 2 years in prov
  • Increased White Supremacist activity in Canada (post Trump election) – hate/race crimes


Sample Editorial: with Word doc Comments to read through as a guide



Transition Words/Persuasive Signal Words:

  1. Transition Words:
  2. Transition Words:
  3. Persuasive Words:

Ultimate words and phrases




November 9

ELA A30 A6 Macleans Article 1967 – The Lonely Death of Chanie Wenjack

Here’s the original article that was published about the death of this young boy, who ran away from a Residential School and died trying to walk home.

This report of the story is what prompted Gord Downie, of The Tragically Hip, to develop poetry about the event that eventually became an album of songs, a graphic novel and an animated cartoon.


Here is the full animated video. It is about 40 minutes long and followed by other discussions on the topic.

November 2

ELA A30 Nov 2 Novel Options for Independent Reading

We’re at the point again in the course to do some independent deep reading, this time using fiction! I’ve collected some novels I’ve had for quite some time and bought newer titles to add to the list.

These are the book options you can choose from this year and, if you know of another title that would fit, run it by me and we could maybe add it to this growing list!

  1. The Diviners – Margaret Laurence
  2. Away From Her – Alice Munro
  3. The Shipping News – Annie Proulx
  4. Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  5. The Stone Diaries – Carol Shields
  6. The Jade Peony – Wayson Choy
  7. Crimes Against my Brother – David Adams Richards
  8. The Other Side of the Bridge – Mary Lawson
  9. The Englishman’s Boy – Guy Vanderhaeghe
  10. The Last Crossing – Guy Vanderhaeghe
  11. Indian Horse – Richard Wagamese
  12. A Quality of Light – Richard Wagamese  *This was a favourite of Grads from 2-3 years ago here.
  13. The Orenda – Joseph Boyden
  14. Three Day Road – Joseph Boyden
  15. Through Black Spruce – Joseph Boyden