CIVIX has made it a strategic priority to offer professional development opportunities for teachers in an effort to boost their capacity and commitment to civic education.
Between April and September 2019, CIVIX organized 17 Democracy Bootcamp events in 8 provinces. The events were designed to support teaching around the themes of democracy and informed citizenship, and to prepare for the Student Vote Canada program coinciding with the 2019 federal election. In total, 1,800 teachers, from 10 provinces and 2 territories, attended these capacity-building events.
Among findings in the independent evaluation completed by Abacus Data, participation in the Democracy Bootcamps had a very positive impact on educators’ knowledge of election campaigns, disinformation, and digital media literacy skills. The events significantly improved the confidence and capacity of educators to teach civic literacy and digital literacy, and enhanced their motivation as well.
In our post-election analysis, we also found that Bootcamp attendees engaged more students in the Student Vote program, with an average of 225 students per school, compared to 133 students per school among educators that did not participate in Bootcamp. Furthermore, educators that attended Democracy Bootcamp were much more likely to dedicate more than 10 classroom hours to the program compared to those that did not attend.
Like many organizations, the pandemic has affected our ability to offer Democracy Bootcamp events for the last two years.
As election speculation was heating up, CIVIX decided to try something new with a virtual adaptation.
On August 24-25, 2021, CIVIX hosted its first-ever virtual Democracy Bootcamp event to prepare educators for the Student Vote Canada program during the September 2021 federal election. The event was made possible by Elections Canada.
Nearly 600 educators attended from across the country over the two-day event.
Some highlights included:
- Inside the War Room – Supriya Dwivedi, Kathleen Monk and Tim Powers shared their insights about the federal election, including party analysis, emerging issues and the ballot box question.
- Electoral Participation in Canada – Miriam Lapp of Elections Canada presented voter turnout statistics in Canada and discussed the barriers some people face to voting.
- Polarization and Political Discourse – Sean Speer, John B. Santos and Elizabeth Dubois presented research about polarization and increasing hostility towards politicians, and discussed strategies for civil discourse.
- Race, Gender and Representation in Politics – The Honourable Jean Augustine, Celina Caesar-Chavannes, Laurin Liu, Wai Young and Raisa Patel discussed the challenges faced by women and racialized candidates in politics.
- Polling and Elections – David Coletto and Philippe J. Fournier talked about opinion polling in today’s context and important considerations for reading numbers during the federal election.
- Democracy and Social Media – Ahmed Al-Rawi, Elizabeth Dubois, Fenwick McKelvey and Jana Pruden discussed the current landscape of political communication and how to sort through the noise.
Participants also had a chance to preview the learning resources for Student Vote Canada, hear about best practices for the Student Vote program, and get a hands-on demonstration of CIVIX’s CTRL-F online verification skills program.
Teachers were appreciative of the opportunity and grateful for the resources shared.
“Thank you for the excellent PD you offered over the last couple of days to prepare us for the Student Vote program. I can hardly wait to dive in with my students!” (Dawn, Alberta teacher)
“Thank you so much for your incredible staff and resources. This is the second bootcamp that I have participated in and I have enjoyed them so much.”
“The virtual format was not my favourite but I understand it was the best that could be done at the time. I look forward to a return to in-person Bootcamp, though I fear it might be a thing of the past with cost-cutting measures.” (Anonymous, post-election survey)
Hopefully, the next time will be in-person. We miss it too!
The sessions are available for viewing online here: