CBC Digital Archives

Lesson Plan: For Teachers: Mercury Plague

History, Social Studies, Political Science, Geography, Science
1 to 2 lessons
To examine the causes and effects of mercury poisoning, to write a position paper responding to an issue
Students will write a position paper on the causes and effects of mercury poisoning.

Lesson Plan

Before Exploring

Provide students with a variety of newsmagazines and newspapers. In pairs, students will create a collage using key words and suitable drawings and/or pictures to illustrate types of pollution and the effect of pollution on the environment. Students should identify air, land, and water pollutants; outline the kinds of chemicals and effluence that can cause pollution; and identify the impact pollutants have on human and animal life.

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic James Bay Project and the Cree on the CBC Digital Archives website and have them review the clips "James Bay Cree experience dramatic change" and "Mercury poisoning and the Cree." Students will develop a position on an aspect of this situation, such as cleaning up the pollution, educating the Cree, or potential health problems associated with mercury poisoning. Students will write a persuasive essay of at least five paragraphs describing their position and, if applicable, their solution.

Revisit and Reflect

Have students share their essays and discuss the potential of their plans to address the mercury poisoning issue.



Students can write a petition demanding that the Quebec and Federal governments act to assist the Cree people who have been hurt by mercury poisoning. The petition should include ways that the governments should respond to the issue and state the argument to persuade people to sign.

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