Mavericks Teacher Resources
Teacher Resources Home
How to Use the Mavericks Site
Inquiry Based Learning
Integrating ICT Strategies
Curriculum Mapping
Assessment & Evaluation
Glossaries Index
Knowledge Hunt Index
Essential Questions Index
Web Link Index
Student Resources
Glenbow museum

War and the Homefront

[ Project Plans | Essential Questions | Knowledge Hunt | Glossary | Links ]

Could That Ever Happen in Canada?PDF document

Using Personal Stories to Study the Moral and Ethical Issue of Internment in Alberta


Students need to recognize how individuals, groups and governments interact and bring about change, recognize and respect the democratic rights of all citizens in Canada, and recognize the influence of historical events and legislation on democratic decision-making in our country. How can we critically analyze a time in Canadian history where the rights of citizens were taken away for the good of the nation? What was the internment of enemy aliens? What was done to them? How did they react? Did the government do the right thing? Will we ever face this issue again in the future?

Project Explanation

In this project, students will develop skills of critical and creative thinking as they analyze a significant historical event from different perspectives. A major factor in the development of Alberta and Canada was the immigration of people from many different regions of the world. Students will research and discuss the internment of people from certain nationalities during World War I and II. Students will analyze the pros and cons of the issue, then participating in critical group discussion about internment. Finally, they will write about their opinions and feelings on the issue in a format of their choice.

Alberta Social Studies Curriculum Unit Connections

Grade Four - Alberta: The Land, Histories and Stories
4.2 The Stories, Histories and People of Alberta

Grade Five - Canada: The Land, Histories and Stories
5.2 Histories and Stories of Ways of Life in Canada

Grade Six - Democracy: Action and Participation
6.1 Citizens Participating in Decision Making

Materials and Resources Needed


Students will create examine the issue of racism and prejudice through a study and discussion of the internment during the First and Second World Wars. They will research the history of internment in Alberta, discuss the pros and cons surrounding the issue, and write about their own personal opinion as to what should have happened during these times.

Begin by introducing the terms "prejudice" and "racism," asking the students to share thoughts and ideas that they have when they hear the words. Explain that they will be looking at some Canadian historical situations and assessing whether the actions taken were justified or racist. Define the concept of the "internment of enemy aliens" and that it was used by both the U.S. and Canadian Governments during the First and Second World Wars on people of German, Ukrainian, Italian and Japanese descent, members of communist of fascist organizations, and even members of religious groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses.

Using the War and the Homefront section of the Mavericks: An Incorrigible History of Alberta site, as well as the other Internet resources above, students will research about the internment of enemy nationals during the First and Second World Wars. How did the people deal with prejudice and life in the camps? What was life like living in an internment camp? What was done to people who were interned? What kinds of prejudice did they have to deal with at the time?

On their own, students will now create a chart where they list the pros and cons of the Canadian Government's decision to use internment on its own citizens. Then students may share their ideas with the class during a critical discussion about the ethical issues of the use of internment during the World Wars. Questions such as the following may be discussed:

  • Why did Canada have internment camps during the Second World War?
  • Did Canada have the right to imprison innocent immigrants during the Second World War?
  • How should the situation have been handled by Canada?
  • What are the alternatives to internment?
  • How would you feel living in these people's place?
  • Should internees or their families receive compensation from the Federal Government?
  • What about if we enter into war now? Could internment still be justified?
  • Due to Islamic terrorists, how should we treat Canadians who look Arabic or are from Arabic countries?

Have the students write a journal entry about the issue of internment. Somehow, they should answer how they feel about the question "Was the internment of possible enemies during the First and Second World Wars a correct and justified government action or was it a racist act against our fellow Canadians?" They may write their response as a narrative, a personal reflection, an essay, or even as a poem.

Assessment and Evaluation

  • In groups or as a class, students may conference and debrief each other after they have presented their projects. Students should be encouraged to share their personal reflections about how it felt to speak in front of their audience.
  • Students may use their rubric as a guide for writing a self-assessment of their project work. They will determine their level for each of the categories and use the criteria specified in their rubric to justify them.
  • Students should use their journal to demonstrate their journey through the problem solving process. This will allow the teacher to evaluate whether they looked at all content and possibilities, their brainstorming, the pros and cons they examined for their solution, and why they settled on the solution they did.

Ideas for Enriching this Project

  • The examination of this issue could be turned into a formal debate where students take one side of the issue and attempt to persuade others to agree with them.
  • Photographs from the website may be used to by students to gain an idea of what an internment camp looked like in Canada and how people who were interned lived everyday life.


Mavericks Home | Teacher Resources Home | Student Resources
Help | Contact | Site Map | Credits


© Copyright Glenbow Museum, 2006. All Rights Reserved