Trade and the Economy, Then and Now: The Present Day

Posted by on Feb 28, 2013 in 11-12, Trade | 0 comments

This lesson, and its partner lesson, Trade and the Economy, Then and Now: The Postwar Period, are informed by the big idea of Interdependence. Students analyze and discuss a variety of primary sources on the current trading relationship between Canada and Asia. They compare the impact of this relationship at the national, provincial and regional levels, as well as upon local First Nations. Students also revisit their learning about the postwar socio-economic context in Prince Rupert and compare that context with the current and anticipated economic growth in international trade with Asia at the Port of Prince Rupert.

The lesson offers an introduction to some of the key trends and drivers in Pacific Rim trade today. The activities focus on a small number of reports and newspaper articles and some high-level statistical data. Students may wish to broaden and deepen their learning on this topic by conducting their own research. Some useful resources for such research are listed at the end of the lesson plan.


2 – 2.5 hours


Students will:

  • Understand in broad terms the economic, political and social context of the expansion of British Columbia’s trade with Asia
  • Compare and contrast trends in provincial, national and global trading patterns
  • Evaluate factors that affect economic growth



Optional: Computer and projector or Smart Board to display news headlines and import/export data tables


  • Optional: Set up computer and projector or Smart Board for displaying news headlines and import/export data tables
  • Print and make sufficient copies of the newspaper articles and reports

CRITICAL VOCABULARY (see Glossary for definitions)

Capital goods, Factors of production, Closed economy, Gains from trade, Comparative advantage, Multinational corporations, Consumer goods, Open economy, Demographics, Post-War Boom, Economic drivers, Product innovation


  • Shown on the screen or circulate as a handout the news headlines about growth and expansion at the Port of Prince Rupert.
  • Lead a discussion about the headlines that allows students to share what they already know about the expansion and the drivers of it. Questions might include:
    • How many of you have been aware of such headlines in the media?
    • What do you think this means for the City of Prince Rupert?
    • What do you know about the major exports and imports through the Port?
    • Where are the exports heading?
    • What do you know about what is fuelling this growth in trade with Asia?
  • Record students’ answers on a flip chart and keep for the final activity


  • Display the tables showing the Top 10 Import/Export Countries for Canada and British Columbia.
  • As a whole class, compare the data for Canada and BC and identify similarities and differences with respect to the amount (percentage) of trade with different countries. (One of the important facts to note is that trade with the Pacific Rim represents a much higher proportion of total trading activity for BC than it does for Canada.)


  • Explain to students that they will be examining a range of articles and reports in order to develop a picture of the economic impacts of trade with Asia over the past two years at the national, provincial and regional levels, as well as some of the impacts for local First Nations. Students will also be asked to compare the current picture with what they learnt about trade during the Post-War era.
  • Divide the class into eight groups. Two groups will be looking at sources that deal with trade at the national (Canada-wide) level; two groups will examine the provincial picture; two will look at the Prince Rupert regional picture; and two will examine the situation for local First Nations.
    • To the Canada groups give the following sources: Canada-China Economic Complementarities Report: Executive Summary; CBC News Article: What Does Canada Trade with China?
    • To the Provincial groups give the following sources: BC Stats Report: Year in Review: BC Export Growth Concentrated in Pacific Rim; Vancouver Sun article: Balance of B.C.’s export market shifting towards China
    • To the Regional groups give the following sources: Port of Prince Rupert Economic Impact Study Update – FINAL REPORT – students should be directed to read the Executive Summary and Chapter 3; The Northern View article: Prince Rupert Port Authority CEO says 2012 laid the groundwork for a bright future
    • To the First Nations groups give the following sources: article: How Tsimshian Nation is Succeeding; Vancouver Sun article: First Nation leads Northwest economic revival
  • In their groups, students read and discuss the sources and make notes on the following in preparation for sharing with the whole class:
    • What key trends in trade do the sources describe with respect to what is being traded and between which groups/regions/countries?
    • According to the sources, what are the drivers of these trends and developments?
  • What opportunities for trade-related economic growth do the sources highlight and what challenges (economic, social, environmental) are described?


  • Bring the class back together. Ask students to select a spokesperson for their group. (If more than one student would like to play this role, group responses to the three questions may be shared across several spokespeople.)
  • Write “Canada”, “British Columbia”; “Prince Rupert & Region”; and “Coast Ts’msyen” on the blackboard or whiteboard, and under each of these headings, write the subheadings: “Trends”; “Drivers”; “Opportunities”; and “Challenges”. As each group reports back on its findings, record the information on the board under the appropriate headings.
  • Lead the class in an oral review and comparison of the findings, noting the key differences and similarities nationally, provincially and regionally, and for First Nations.

ACTIVITY 5 – Comparison of then and now

  • Place students in small groups (try to make sure that each group has a mix of students from the previous groupings so that the information about national, provincial, regional and First Nations trade picture is shared).
  • Tell students that they are going to compare what they have learnt about present day trade in BC and Canada with trade during the Post-War period.
  • Referring again to the archival sources that they examined in the lesson, Trade and the Economy, Then and Now: The Post-War Boom, students discuss and make notes on the following questions:
    • Based on the information in the contemporary and archival sources that you have looked at, what are the main similarities and differences between the Post-War period and the present day with respect to: Economic sectors and trading partners?; The way in which the economic relationship between Asia and Canada/BC/Prince Rupert is framed and understood?
    • What do you find most interesting and/or surprising about the similarities and differences? Why?
  • Have the groups feed back the main points of their discussion to the whole class and record their findings and ideas on the blackboard or whiteboard under the headings “Post-War” and “Present Day”.

ACTIVITY 6 – Wrap up and reflection

Go back to the notes you made of the students’ responses to the questions from Activity 1. Ask the students to review the notes. How would they answer the questions differently as a result of the work they have done?


Have each student produce a summary of the small group and whole class findings from Activities 3 and 4. This may be done as a written report or PowerPoint or Prezi presentation.


Support students’ reading and analysis of the source materials by providing them with specific guidance about which sections of the articles/reports to focus on, or by providing them with an excerpt.


Student-led Research Project:

As a class, or in small groups, choose one of the major exports through the Port of Prince Rupert. Research the following and put together as a written, oral, poster or PowerPoint presentation:

  • Where does the resource originate and what is its destination? What transportation infrastructure facilitates its journey from origin to destination? Does the resource return to Canada and if so, in what form?
  • What economic and social drivers are creating a demand for the resource in the destination country? Why?
  • What are some of the economic, social and environmental complexities around the export of the resource? How might these be mitigated?


Lesson Plan Resources

Additional Resources

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