VEDay75 – Normandy to the Netherlands: Resilience

The VEDay75 Lesson Plans are developed by Craig Brumwell.

Big Idea

Resilience emerges as a critical human quality during globally challenging times.

Overall Description

Resilience is the capacity to endure hardship, challenge and injustice. It implies strength of purpose and an ability to recover from adversity against the odds.

People display resilience in times of conflict, such as during the Second World War. May 2020 marks the 75th Anniversary of the Allied victory in Europe, or “VE Day 75.” Canadians played a pivotal role in the collective effort to overcome German oppression over the countries that it occupied. In the 11 months between D-Day, the Normandy Invasion, on 6 June 1944 and VE Day on 8 May 1945, Canadian forces contributed to the Northwest Europe Campaign including the Liberation of the Netherlands. Resilience among troops, resistance fighters and civilians was the common quality that helped people to endure the challenges that they in Europe and the home front.

Resilience is associated with other human qualities. The diagram below illustrates a framework to recognize how they connect to each other.

You will be using the website, Defining Moments Canada: VE Day 75: Normandy to the Netherlands.

The story maps linked to this site depict three iconic Canadians who contributed to the war effort in Europe, Philip Pochailo, Mona Parsons and Charles Byce. These individuals demonstrated many of the qualities in the diagram above – and they all shared that of resilience.

Historian Mike Bechthold, in his overview, Canada’s Finest Hour, speaks to their resilience and associated qualities in passages such as:

His (Pochailo’s) flying career was brief as he was shot down just two weeks before D-Day. Unlike the rest of his crew, he parachuted to safety, evaded capture and joined the Dutch Underground. He spent the next year on the run, helping the Dutch resistance until he was liberated by Canadian troops in Rotterdam in 1945.

(Parsons) worked with a local resistance group until she was captured and sentenced to death by firing squad in September, 1941. A German officer took pity and commuted her sentence and she spent most of the war in a German prison/labour camp. She ultimately escaped and made her way across Germany, where she was rescued by soldiers of the North Nova Scotia Highlanders.

Byce was a Cree from Chapleau, Ontario. He had a tough childhood as he was sent to the local residential school, where he suffered much discrimination and denial of his Indigenous culture…He served overseas with the Lake Superior Regiment and was honoured many times for his bravery in combat. His remarkable story demonstrates the strength of the human spirit.

In this activity, you will act in the role of museum curator. These historians determine what photos and artifacts to arrange and display in an exhibition that connects to the curatorial them of “resilience”. 

Task

Select one of the worksheets (A-C) in this file and do the following:

Observe & Wonder

Answer the questions under each photograph (edit the file)

Contextualize
  • View the story maps of the iconic Canadians on Storymapping VEDay 75.
  • Read Canada’s Finest Hour. More context is provided by the sub-pages in the right-side panel if you choose to learn more.
  • Think about the historical thinking questions on the next page
Create

Design a didactic panel or audio guide entitled “Resilience During Wartime” that addresses the question: How was resilience evident among Canadians fighting in NE Europe in 1944-1945?

  • Select 4-6 images from one or more of the 3 Project 44 story maps from this link (right click on the image, click “copy image” then paste it into your file). Note: they do not have to be the images from your worksheet
  • Consider the historical thinking concepts on the next page
  • Write your curation text (250-500 words)
  • Present didactic panel as a:
    • poster with images and text (Word, PDF, Visme, Canva etc.)
    • Powerpoint-style arrangement of images with voice-over

As a curator, you must decide what images to include in your exhibit and how to contextualize and resilience.

Think about the following questions as you plan your curative text (you do not have to answer them categorically).

Worksheets

Worksheet A: Observe & Wonder

Worksheet 1 (A) is the first option for Lesson 5. It offers students a selection of photographs from the Project 44 VEDay75 Storymaps with a series of questions under each photo. Students will reflect on these photos and have the opportunity to create didactic panels that follow museological guidelines.

Worksheet B: Observe & Wonder

Worksheet 2 (B) is another option, in addition to the previous Worksheet 1 (A), for the purpose of Lesson 5. This worksheet offers students a selection of photographs from the Project 44 VEDay75 Storymaps with a series of questions under each photo. Students will reflect on these photos and have the opportunity to create didactic panels that follow museological guidelines.

Worksheet C: Observe & Wonder

Worksheet 3 (C) is another option, in addition to the previous Worksheet 1 (A) and Worksheet 2 (B), for the purpose of Lesson 5. This worksheet offers students a selection of photographs from the Project 44 VEDay75 Storymaps with a series of questions under each photo. Students will reflect on these photos and have the opportunity to create didactic panels that follow museological guidelines.

The VEDay75 Lesson Plans are developed by Craig Brumwell.