The start of the Second World War shocked and surprised everyone. Canada reacted by joining the war. The Mennonites thought that war was wrong. What would they do? Designing an alternative service program was not easy. Mennonites were not in complete agreement. This made it hard to present a united front to the government during negotiations. Even when the two groups came to a common understanding, the judges who implemented the program made the process difficult at times. War was an uncertain time for the Mennonites.
- Research how people can become COs today with the Peacemaker Registration Form (courtesy of the Mennonite Central Committee).
- Do a role play (see suggestions) between the judges and the conscientious objector where different people in the group assume the roles of judges and conscientious objectors.
- Imagine that you had to appear before a judge to explain why you do or do not want to go to war. What kind of questions would the judge ask? How would you answer?
- Compare your school's anti-violence or anti-bullying rules to what the COs did. How are they the same? How are they different?
- Pretend to be the judge interviewing COs. What do you think he is thinking?
- Create a role play between the Canadian government and the Mennonites debating the different options for young pacifists.
- Research and write an opinion paper on what it means to “stand on guard” for Canada.
- Design front pages for two different newspapers announcing the start of the Second World War. Make one a Mennonite newspaper and the other a big city newspaper. How would they be different? What would the articles say?
- Write your Member of Parliament or another elected official and ask them what it's like to negotiate with the government. Is it easy or is it hard?
- Write your local army commander to ask what would happen if Canada got involved in another big war.
- Write and perform a drama focusing on
- a CO appearing before the judge
- the negotiations between the government and COs at the start of the war
The “Uncertainty” section can help students:
- see the advantages and disadvantages to living in a community
- use a variety of strategies to resolve conflicts peacefully and fairly
- recognize bias and discrimination and propose solutions
- evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of solutions to a problem
- improve communication skills as they
- listen to others to understand their perspective
- persuasively express differing viewpoints regarding an issue
- articulate their beliefs and perspectives on issues
- evaluate individual rights and responsibilities as they relate to the government and the community
- see that people can disagree and still resolve problems peacefully