Sample Lesson: Elementary
The Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Treatment of
- Students demonstrate an understanding of equality and fairness in
Canada with respect to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
learn how the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms might have protected
Japanese Canadians from the treatment they received in the 1940s.*
- Students find evidence to back up their opinions using a variety
of primary and secondary sources.
- Students will also learn about some
of the challenges that Japanese Canadians faced.
Time: 40-60 minutes
Materials and Resources:
The War Measures
- Harry Yonekura about the
seizure of fishing vessels belonging
to Japanese Canadians; the town of Steveston in 1941/42; and
his arrest and imprisonment
in Angler, a Prisoner of war camp for not having the proper papers.
Sumiya, a student at the University of British Columbia in
and his arrest and imprisonment in Angler for refusing to be evacuated.
of Angler, POW camp – Funeral of an inmate. All prisoners
wore a uniform with a red circle on their back so that they are easily
Teaching the Activity:
- Remind students of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
(from an earlier lesson).
- Tell them that the Charter is designed
to protect all of the citizens of Canada, but that it was not
adopted by Canada until 1981. Japanese
Canadians were not protected by the Charter then, but would be today
if this were to happen again.
- Students fill in the chart: “Treatment of Japanese
- Students use the documents provided as their
evidence. (They could also use the video: Minoru, if it is
- Have students go through the Charter and find
which Rights Japanese Canadians were not allowed during World
Students should give
are as specific as possible.
- Given the amount of documentation that students must go through,
in the interest of efficiency, it is recommended that students “jigsaw”. (i.e.
Each student or team becomes responsible for one area or one
They fill in their part and share it with the rest of the group. Once
all groups have shared they should be able to complete the entire chart
as a group. This way, students do not get overwhelmed by all of the
documentation and are only responsible for one section.)
an extension, students could write about other (human) rights
that were violated, (e.g. education, health care, etc.).
to teachers: The Charter may have protected Japanese Canadians,
however there is a “Notwithstanding Clause” (Section
33 of the War Measures Act) that allows the government to withhold
rights of citizens in times of war. Teachers may include this clause
in their lessons, but it is probably beyond the comprehension of students
at this age level, and it could cause unnecessary fear and confusion
if introduced. In 1988, the Emergencies Act replaced the War Measures
Act. The Emergencies Act does not allow discriminatory emergency actions
and includes compensation for victims of government actions.