7-12, Unit One, Activity 1: "Same Colo(u)rs, Different Flavo(u)rs..."

E-mail discussion between Canadian and American students about their similarities and differences.

Grades: 7-12
Time: 2-10 hours
Subjects: Social science, history, economics, language arts, technology

Teacher Background:
This is an open-ended, student-directed activity which can take many forms and is highly variable in the amount of time you may wish to devote to it. It may, in its best form, never end. For assistance with finding a Canadian School to participate, contact the Education Specialist at Glacier National Park. You may also want to read the Unit One Introduction about the establishment of the International Peace Park and see a list of similarities and differences between Canadians and Americans.


  • Computer(s) with internet and e-mail capability

Americans have Canadian jokes. Canadians have American jokes. One has "states" and the other, "provinces." Canada has a prime minister and a parliament, the U. S. has a president and a senate. Canada has a ministry and a minister of natural resources, finance, etc. The U. S. has secretaries of defense, interior, commerce, etc. Canadians like gravy on their fries – in the U. S., it’s ketchup… Even though the English language is nearly identical in all of North America, Canadians speak “the Queen’s English”, with words like “colour”, “centre”. “flavour”, etc. This is a reflection of the relationship that a “Commonwealth” country has with the British Empire. This relationship is largely symbolic, but, officially at least, the Queen of England is also the Queen of Canada. The U. S. takes great pride in its independence, having fought two wars with England to preserve U. S. sovereignty. Canada was involved in one of those wars in 1812, on the side of the British. It was the last time the two North American countries were not on the same side of a conflict. Nearly 200 years of peace is worth celebrating, especially when considering the ways neighbors with a few thousand miles of common border could disagree and fight over those disagreements. Canadian and American money value, politics, taxation, economics and culture are slightly different from each other. Canada is bilingual, with both French and English necessary on all public documents. Canada also views international relations differently – they view some Americans’ suspicions of the United Nations, World Heritage Sites and Biosphere Reserves as a bit paranoid and humorous. Canadians see themselves as members of a world community more so than Americans. Because of that attitude, Canadians usually know more about America than Americans know about Canada.

1. Start by contacting the Canadian school teacher that is interested in participating with your class and arrange schedules for when the students will make initial contact.
2. Read the class the narrative above and discuss similarities and differences they already know about between Canadians and Americans. Use the Unit One Introduction materials to introduce students to what an International Peace Park is.
3. There are now many "Peace Parks" around the world and they are often referred to as "Trans-Boundary" parks. The 75th Anniversary of the "Peace Park" was celebrated with an International Conference. The "Parks, Peace and Partnerships Conference" brought together International Peace Park and transboundary management professionals from every continent to Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta, Canada from September 9-12, 2007. To learn more about how the "Peace Park" idea has spread to other nations, read about Transboundary Protected Areas, the parks that have been created following the International Peace Park idea.
4. When you feel both classes are ready, make contact with the other class in the manner both schools have agreed upon. You may choose to communicate as an entire class or send individual e-mails from the same site. The initial questions below are a starting point, designed to examine the differences and similarities between the two countries.

Part One:
After introductions, students in both countries will attempt to answer the following questions about their own country:

1. What things about your language have you noticed are different in our country (both spoken and written)?
2. Do you think your food is different than ours? How?
3. What kind of classes do you take? Which are mandatory and which are elective?
4. How (briefly) does your government work, and what do you see as the most important differences?
5. What, in your opinion is the historic and present relationship between Native Americans and European descendents in your country?
6. What would you brag about regarding your country? What are its weak points?
7. Do you think that the International Peace Park is important? Why?
8. Do you speak languages other than English? Which ones?
9. What do you do for fun?
10. What do you want to know about me? About my province/state or country?

Part Two:
Set up small collaborative discussion groups of 3 or 4 students. You may choose to have a moderator, a recorder and a reporter. Divide the group work by asking them to spend 15 minutes on one of the following questions (these questions also form an assessment sequence regarding their basic understanding of the similarities and differences between the U. S. and Canada):

1. What would you like about living in the other country?
2. What would you dislike about living in the other country?
3. What do you think are the advantages of their government system?
4. What are the disadvantages of their government system?
5. Do you think that they (the other country) view international relations differently than us? How?
6. How do they view the International Peace Park? Are there serious differences of opinion about its function and usefulness? From this point you may wish to share the discussion results with your partner class in America / Canada.

Variations and Extensions:
Obviously, this can be just the beginning of a long conversation. Students can ask about Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (W-GIPP) issues, such as grizzly bears, wolves, etc. The activity can end here or daily conversations can go on all year. You may even want to consider a field trip hike with your “pen pals” somewhere in the W-GIPP, to meet them in person. Waterton-Glacier leads ranger-led hikes across the border during the summer out of the Goat Haunt Ranger District (see the Ranger-led Activity Schedule). Encourage students to participate in one of these hikes with their families.

For multiple-intelligence assessment, you may choose to have students do their choice of visual art, creative writing, a musical piece, or a stylized map of the relationship between the U.S. and Canada.

Last updated: November 8, 2017

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