Lesson: New Lives
Students learn about the release of the internees from internment, their subsequent contributions to Canada and, through video, their perspectives on internment today.
Links to Historical Thinking Concepts:
Use Primary Source Evidence – Students analyze documents related to the release of individual internees, and video of former internees reflecting on the significance of their internment.
Take Historical Perspective – Students consider how internees view their wartime experiences today.
Understand the Ethical Dimensions of History – Students consider whether Canada’s wartime internment of refugees was justified.
Let students explore this page of the website or pre-assign Reading: Release.
Students examine the documents in Dossier: Release. In pairs or small groups, examine one of the documents closely and respond to the following questions:
- Who created the document?
- Who is the document about? What information about the individual does it provide?
- What insights about the conditions of release does the document provide?
Allow students to browse, or briefly summarize for them, the content on the following web pages: “Publicity,” “The War Years” and “The Legacy of Internment.”
Video Screening: Postscript
Let students explore this page of the website or pre-assign Reading: Remarkable Achievements.
In pairs (or, as computers permit, individually or in groups), students view Video: Postscript, which features four chapters in which internees discuss the following themes:
- The Holocaust
Students can watch all four themes, or focus on a single theme. Groups then present on one theme to their classmates, responding to the following questions:
- What are the key points or ideas expressed by the former internees?
- What comment struck you most and why?
- What question of your own would you ask to the former internees?
The class debriefs about the internees’ reflections as a whole, using the questions above as a guide. Additional prompts for each chapter include:
- Justice: Do you think Canada’s wartime internment of refugees was justified?
- Identity: How do the former internees’ comments about their identities, Canadian and otherwise, relate to your own feelings of identity?
- Legacies: How were the individuals affected by their internment experiences?
- The Holocaust: What are your thoughts about the individuals’ comments on the relationship between internment and the Holocaust?
Research Project: Internees Today
Students select one of the internees featured in the videos on this website and write a biographical sketch, highlighting their postwar accomplishments.
Extension: Other Histories of Internment
Students write a research paper about another episode of Canadian internment. Second World War examples include: the internment of Japanese Canadians, the internment of Italian Canadians and the internment of German Canadians. An example from the First World War: the internment of Ukrainian-Canadians, refugees from the Austro-Hungarian Empire who were interned as “enemy aliens.”