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Defenders for Human Rights
Arthur Miki

Arthur Miki Equality and Redress

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GRADE LEVELS = 7 to 12  /  SUGGESTED TIME = Six 60 minute class periods

Preparatory Set

  1. To familiarize the students with the treatment of Canadians of Japanese ancestry during and after World War II, show one of the National Film Board of Canada films.

    Enemy Alien (26 min. 49 sec.) 1975. Black and white.
    Tells of Japanese Canadians' long, frustrating struggle for acceptance as Canadians.

    Minoru: Memory of Exile (18 min. 45 sec.) 1992. Colour.
    A Japanese Canadian film-maker tells the story of his Canadian-born father. Suitable for younger viewers.

  2. Give the students 5 minutes to write their thoughts feelings and reactions to how the Japanese Canadians were treated. Share their thoughts through class discussion.

Activity 1

Japanese Canadians Chronology

Print “The Chronology of Key Events in Japanese Canadian History” (PDF, 193 KB)

  1. Divide the timeline into the appropriate number of blocks for the students to read as a Reader’s Theatre in the round.
  2. Discuss the events and their implications for the people directly affected and society as a whole.

Activity 2

The War Measures Act

Immediately following World War I, the Canadian government invoked The War Measures Act which was used immediately following World War I, during World War II and during the 1970s FLQ Crisis. The War Measures Act gave unlimited power to the government to do anything necessary to support the war through federal government actions. In 1988, the War Measures Act was replaced by the Emergencies Act, which has more limiting powers.

  1. Japanese Canadians, perceived as spies by some, although there was no evidence to support this, had their rights severely limited when the War Measures Act was invoked. Thinking back to films, discuss the various human rights that were restricted for Japanese Canadians as a result of their internment.
    For additional information:
    Japanese Internment: Banished and Beyond Tears
  2. Other ethnic groups were interned in Canada due to the War Measures Act. Ask your students to research one of these ethnic groups and prepare a presentation for the class explaining why they were interned and how the internment was against their human rights.
    1. Astro-Hungarians (mostly Ukrainians), World War I
    2. Germans, World War I and World War II
    3. Italians, World War II
      For additional information:
      Internment Camps in Canada during the First and Second World Wars

Activity 3

Advances and Setbacks in Human Rights

Linking to the Moments in Time section of this resource, under the theme of this lesson plan ‘Equality and Redress’:

  1. Ask students to research one of the events identified under Equality and Redress.
  2. Ask them to write a short opinion piece that includes the following in their reflection:
    1. Media and other events surrounding that particular period and issue (e.g. 1885 – The Chinese Immigration Act is passed containing a head tax to discourage Chinese people from entering Canada.)
    2. Was this particular human rights moment in time perceived as an advancement or a setback? Please explain.
    3. Today, would that same moment still be perceived as an advancement or a setback? Please explain.

Culminating Activity — From Reflection to Action

Japanese Canadian Redress Public Process

The Government of Canada, led by Prime Minister, Brian Mulroney, signed the Japanese Canadian Redress Agreement on September 22, 1988. Arthur Miki also signed, as the representative of the National Association of Japanese Canadians (NAJC). The 25th anniversary marking the Agreement of September 1988 was in 2013. Arthur Miki’s presentation at that event provides an excellent summary on how to build momentum to garner public support for change. His presentation details the step by step process taken by Japanese Canadians in the pursuit of redress.

  1. Ask your students to read Arthur Miki’s presentation of 2013.
  2. Ask them to develop a chronology of steps taken to engage the public in supporting their cause.
  3. Ask students to identify the advancements and setbacks along the way.
  4. Again referring to Arthur Miki’s presentation of 2013, ask students to identify the outcomes for Japanese Canadians since the Agreement was signed over 25 years ago.

Extension Activity

Ask students to research other public apologies on behalf of our provinces, territories and federal government and to prepare a presentation on the issue, including a chronology of events, the human rights that were impacted, and the outcome of the resolution. For reference purposes, some apologies are listed below.

  1. Statement of Reconciliation for Damage done to Aboriginal Populations in Canada, 1998
  2. Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act, 2006
  3. Prime Minister Harper’s Apology for Indian Residential Schools, 2008
  4. Nova Scotia apologized to Viola Desmond, 2010.
  5. Halifax apologized to Africville residents and descendents, 2010.
  6. Governor General Michaëlle Jean apologized for Canada’s failure to respond to the Rwandan Genocide, 2010.
  7. Harper apologized to families of victims in Air India bombing, 2010.