Throughout the first two weeks of May 2016, Valour Canada ran its signature school programs for Junior High (grades 7-9) and High Schools (grades 10-12) at the Military Museums in Calgary.
This season's topic focused on the conflict in Syria and Iraq, and particularly the consequences this is having on civilians living, or formerly living, in the affected areas. Particularly timely given Canada's decision to accept 25,000 Syrian refugees, the program enabled students to better understand the context in which the refugee situation arose. Helping Junior High students empathize with the refugees, representatives from the Syrian Refugees Support Group in Calgary delivered several talks highlighting the stories and experiences of refugee life.
For senior high students, we included a policy-making element, guiding critical thinking regarding potential options for Canadian policy (domestic and foreign) on the issue based on evidence provided in our program packages, guest speakers, and discussion facilitators. The students examined several policy areas, including military intervention, humanitarian aid, Canadian national security, and environmental impact within the context of the conflict. For each of these, facilitators encouraged nuanced discussions as students weighed the pros and cons of different options.
Valour Canada Education Coordinator Leanna Darling looks on as members from the Syrian Refugees Support Group speak to Junior High students from Calgary and nearby cities
Retired Royal Canadian Air Force Colonel Don Matthews speaks to Senior High students about the complexity of military interventions and peacekeeping, drawing on his experience in the 1991 Gulf War and the mid-'90s Haiti peacekeeping operation.