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Lesson Plan:

For Teachers: Hong Kong Vets

Type: Assignment
Subjects: History, Social Studies, Political Science
Grades: Grades 9-10
Duration: 1 to 2 lessons
Purpose: To discuss, reflect, and decide on issues in order to solve a complex problem
Summary: Students assess whether the compensation for a given group of veterans is equitable.

Before Exploring

Present the class with the following problem: Sam is riding his bike. Several bullies jump him, take his bike and severely damage it, and then beat up Sam. The bullies are arrested and taken to court. They are convicted and are required to pay for the repair of the bike. At first Sam accepts this consequence, but a year later he is no longer happy with his reconditioned bike. He goes after the bullies to pay for a brand new mountain bike. Should they be responsible to pay for the upgraded bike? Why or why not?

Have the students discuss their answers and arrive at a consensus. Ask:

Does the perpetrator of a wrong always compensate a victim?

How are perpetrators of wrongs punished?

Is compensation a form of punishment?

How does compensating a victim affect the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator of the  wrong?

Outline the Opportunity

Direct students to the topic Continuing the Fight: Canada's Veterans on the CBC Digital Archives website. Have them view the clips titled "Canadians captured in Hong Kong receive compensation" and "Hong Kong veterans seek redress from Japan." Then have them read the following excerpt from Article 16 of the San Francisco Treaty of 1952, also available on the download sheet Article 16.

Article 16
As an expression of its desire to indemnify those members of the armed forces of the Allied Powers who suffered undue hardships while prisoners of war of Japan, Japan will transfer its assets and those of its nationals in countries which were neutral during the war, or which were at war with any of the Allied Powers, or, at its option, the equivalent of such assets, to the International Committee of the Red Cross which shall liquidate such assets and distribute the resultant fund to appropriate national agencies, for the benefit of former prisoners of war and their families on such basis as it may determine to be equitable.

Have students respond to the following questions: Should the Hong Kong veterans receive further compensation from Japan? Why or why not?

Revisit and Reflect

Have students share their results with the class. Ask: How could Canada have responded to the Hong Kong veterans? What response makes the most sense to you? Why?


Students can research the time that the Hong Kong veterans spent in captivity. Invite them to discuss their findings in class and reassess their response to the question in the main assignment.

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