1918 Influenza Pandemic / Pandémie de Grippe de 1918

Submitted by Samantha Hendricks

Teaching About the 1918 Influenza Pandemic can help Students Understand COVID-19 / L’enseignement sur la Pandémie de Grippe de 1918 peut aider nos élèves à comprendre la COVID-19 

The Spanish Flu / La Grippe Pandémique 1918

The Spanish Flu Pandemic 1918-1919 was one of the most catastrophic events in history. For Canadians, the pandemic changed the course of our shared histories. In 2020, the world is experiencing another global pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 shares stark similarities to the Influenza Pandemic from a century ago.

In a short span of time, the Spanish Flu took almost as many Canadian lives as had been killed during the four years of the Great War. Indiscriminate and horrific in its proportions, the Spanish Flu Pandemic profoundly impacted the history of Canada.

Consider the following:

  • One third of the world’s population was infected by the Spanish Flu
  • 50% of those infected were healthy young men and women under 40
  • 3% of the world’s population died
  • The Spanish Flu killed more people in 18 months than AIDS has killed in 35 years or the Black Plague killed in 100
  • Stories that such statistics tell are seemingly endless
  • But Canadians responded with purpose and determination
  • The Pandemic brought about the creation of the Federal Department of Health
  • The Pandemic also persuaded Canadians to recognize disease as being a community problem, not an individual one

Teaching About the Spanish Flu / Enseigner la Grippe Pandémique 1918

To help teach this significant, yet difficult, history to students from a pan-Canadian lens, Defining Moments Canada is here for teachers  with access to free resources such as lesson plans and educator supports in both English and French. Visit the  “Projects” section of the Defining Moments Canada / Moments Déterminants Canada  (https://definingmomentscanada.ca/projects/; https://definingmomentscanada.ca/fr/projets/)

English Resources:  https://definingmomentscanada.ca/1918-influenza-pandemic/teaching-about-flu/

Ressources en français: https://definingmomentscanada.ca/fr/la-grippe-1918/enseigner-la-grippe/

Reflecting on the 1918 Spanish Flu in the Wake of COVID-19 / Des leçons à tirer de la Grippe Pandémique 1918

These educator resources, related to teaching about the Spanish Flu, can serve as an entry point for your students to learn and think about the unprecedented circumstances from the perspective of the world having to now live with COVID-19. Teachers and students across Canada are invited and encouraged to become both scientific detectives and historians as they embark on this inquiry and rediscover a critical part of our past.  To explore more definitional moments in our shared history, visit DefiningMomentsCanada.ca.