CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: The Rise of Quebec's Independence Movement

History, Political Science
2 lessons
To learn about the reasons for the rise of Quebec’s independence movement in the 1960s
Groups of students research and share presentations about various independence movements in Quebec.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Ask students what they know about the history of pro-independence or sovereigntist movements in Quebec. Ask if they can identify figures such as Rene Levesque, Jacques Parizeau, or Lucien Bouchard. Discuss with them the reasons why they think some Quebecois have supported or continue to support the idea that their province should leave Confederation and become a country of its own. Ask them what they think of this idea, how they would react if Quebec were ever to become independent, and what they think such an event would mean for the rest of Canada.

Explain to students that a major event such as the October Crisis of 1970 can only be understood within its historical context. This means that it was the result of many factors that led to it and contributed to its outbreak, some of which happened over several years before it.

Outline the Opportunity


Have students work in small groups to browse the topic The October Crisis: Civil Liberties Suspended on the CBC Digital Archives website in order to find out more about some of the major peaceful and violent groups that actively supported the cause of Quebec independence or sovereignty in the years leading up to the October Crisis. The most important of these were the R.I.N. (Rassemblement pour l'independence nationale, the forerunner of the Parti Quebecois), the PQ (Parti Quebecois), and the FLQ (Front de liberation du Quebec).

Each group of students should research and prepare a presentation about one of the groups. The presentation should focus on the following issues: a) why the group supported independence or sovereignty for Quebec, b) who its major leaders were, c) what strategies and tactics it used to promote its ideas and policies, and d) how much support it was able to gain from francophone Quebecois prior to October 1970. Each group should prepare a summary of its information and present it to the class for further discussion.

Revisit and Reflect


After the groups have presented their reports, ask the following questions:


What were the main similarities and differences among these groups in relation to a) their ideas and policies, b) their leaders, c) their strategies and tactics for achieving their goal, and d) the level of public support they were able to achieve prior to October 1970?


How did these groups respond to the October Crisis of 1970?

Discuss these questions with the class, and then have students write a one-to-two paragraph response to one of the questions based on all the information gathered.



Senior students can prepare and present a brief report to explain how their understanding of the roots of the October Crisis has been enhanced by studying the rise of pro-independence movements in Quebec in the years before the crisis.


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