Father Christmas: Soon to be a Canadian citizen? - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 10 December

Father Christmas, North Pole, Canada

Father Christmas: Soon to be a Canadian citizen?

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 10 December

Photograph: I-stock

By Darren Evans

With just over two weeks to go until Christmas Day, all children’s eyes are on the North Pole as the Arctic’s most famous resident prepares to make his annual rounds.

But this year it’s not just excited five-year-olds who are looking expectantly towards the place Father Christmas traditionally calls home; one of the world’s biggest economies is eyeing the region too.

Canada is set to make a territorial claim on the North Pole in an effort to assert its sovereignty in the Arctic region, which is rich in resources such as oil and natural gas.

John Baird, the Canadian foreign affairs minister, said that his government had asked scientists to work on a submission to the United Nations arguing that the Pole was located on part of a continental shelf controlled by Canada.

Mr Baird said: “We are determined to ensure that all Canadians benefit from the tremendous resources that are to be found in Canada’s far north.”

A growing number of countries, including the US and Russia, are looking to the Arctic as a source of natural resources and shipping lanes but so far none has claimed the North Pole itself. The US Geological Survey reckons that the region contains about 30 per cent of the world’s undiscovered natural gas and 15 per cent of oil.

Canada has already applied to extend its Atlantic Ocean seabed rights but now wants more time to prepare a claim that would extend 200 nautical miles beyond the North Pole.

The submission itself would not result in a binding decision from the UN but would pave the way for future negotiations between competing countries that could take many years to resolve.

Michael Byers, an expert on Arctic and international law at the University of British Columbia, said the claim was more about politics than economics. “We’re talking about the centre of a large, inhospitable ocean that is in total darkness for three months each year, thousands of miles from any port,” he said.

“The water in the north pole is 12,000ft [3,650m] deep and will always be covered by sea ice in the winter. It’s not a place where anyone is going to be drilling for oil and gas. So it’s not about economic stakes, it’s about domestic politics.”

If Canada’s claim on the North Pole is ultimately successful, it remains to be seen whether Santa will become a Canadian citizen.

Your class can ask Father Christmas questions during our live chat on Wednesday 18 December. For more details, go to tesconnect.com/FatherChristmas.


1.) Where is the North Pole? What do you imagine conditions are like there?
2.) What would be the benefits to a country like Canada claiming the North Pole?
3.) The North Pole is often thought of as the home of Santa Claus. Find out five facts about the history of Santa Claus.
4.) What is the United Nations and what role does this organisation have to play claims such as this?

Related resources

Santa’s hat

  • These simple comprehension worksheets encourage children to engage with a story and produce meaningful answers.

Reindeer ratios

  • Ensure Santa's reindeer are well-fed for their journey on Christmas Eve in this problem-solving activity about ratios.

The Arctic

  • Introduce the environment and animals of the Arctic using this image-led presentation.

Antarctica and the Arctic

  • A collection of worksheets about the similarities and differences between the two poles.

Further news resources

First News front page

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Write all about it

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What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week

Nelson Mandela, South Africa's first black leader and the man who came to symbolise the struggle against apartheid, has died aged 95.

An animal rights group claims that he is, and they are not monkeying around. The non-profit Nonhuman Rights Project has filed what is said to be the first lawsuit seeking to establish the “legal personhood” of chimpanzees.

Japanese scientists shoot for the moon in ambitious solar-energy plan

Computer giant Microsoft was forced to apologise yesterday for an advertising campaign for its new games console that was widely criticised as being sexist.

In the news archive index