Students enrolled in Holland College's language instructions for newcomers to Canada program spend their days learning how to write and speak English — but lately classes have expanded to include civic studies as well.
Bethany Collicutt-McNab has been teaching her newcomer students at the college about the mechanics of Canadian government, political parties and elections.
"The election came up and I thought, this is really important for them to know," Collicutt-McNab said.
While her students aren't able to vote in Canada, for now, she's hoping the class will still encourage them to become civically engaged.
"Part of my job is to prepare them for life in Canada and I teach them everything from buying car insurance to getting flu shots," she said.
"I teach them that they're allowed to engage in political life in Canada, where in their countries it may not be encouraged or maybe not even allowed."
Collicutt-McNab said she feels it's also important to help her students identify functions of key roles in Canadian government, such as the prime minister and Governor General and how political parties work, and what to do if someone knocks on your door during an election.
"Parts of those mechanics are on the citizenship test," she said. "Their children are learning this in school, so they want to feel that they're learning as much about their new country as their children are."
'Important for everybody's life'
Cleo Li, who is enrolled in the LINC program, isn't able to vote just yet, but said she is hopeful the class will prepare her for the future.
"I can vote someday, I can become a citizen," she said.
Diana Tang, who is also a student in the program, said it's been exciting learning about the Canadian government.
"I learned a lot of information about what is human rights, what is the rule of law, and I think it's important for everybody's life."
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