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Remembrance Dog Tags – Fallen Canadian air force members


To increase youth awareness about the contributions of Canadians who have died while serving in the air force.


Through this activity, youth will:

  • better understand the contributions of Canadians who died in the air force since the First World War  
  • learn about the history of the Royal Canadian Air Force
  • learn more about military “dog tags”

Target audience

This activity is aimed at youth 12 to 18 years old.

Activity sequence and expected duration [approximately 75 minutes]

(You can modify this activity to fit the amount of time available.)

  • Introductory discussion [15 minutes]
  • Research and preparation [15 minutes]
  • Presentations [30 minutes]
  • Wrap-up discussion [15 minutes]
  • Optional extension activities [variable]


Introductory discussion [15 minutes]

You may refer to the Canadian Encyclopedia article Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) for some historical context. Many Canadians served as part of British forces before Canada established the Royal Canadian Air Force in 1924.

Begin the class by showing the short video RCAF 100 aircraft video. The Royal Canadian Air Force compiled this set of short clips featuring aircraft and Canadian air force personnel. After the video, lead a discussion about your students’ impressions.

Questions your class might consider include:

  • What do you think of the video?
  • Do you recognize any of the aircraft shown in the video?
  • Discuss the different landscapes and type of image to highlight Canadians services across many conflicts. For example: 
    • landscapes such as snowy areas, mountains, cities, oceans and deserts
    • some clips are in old black and white film which reflects the era Canadians served.
    • Canadians have served in many wars and conflicts such as
      • the First World War, Second World War, Korean War, Afghanistan War
      • peacekeeping, humanitarian, search and rescue and arctic operations
      • air shows
  • What jobs did you see people doing in the video?
    • Some examples include: pilot, navigator, bomb aimer, mechanic, radar operator, paratrooper, and search and rescue
  • Do you know any famous Canadians who were part of the air force?
    • Some examples are:
      • First World War pilots Billy Bishop and William Barker
      • pilot and Doctor Stephen Blizzard
      • astronaut Chris Hadfield
  • Do you know a Veteran or a current member of the Royal Canadian Air Force?

Tell your students today’s lesson focuses on Canadians who have served with the air force. Students will research an air crew member who died in service.

Hundreds of thousands of men and women have served in Canada's air force.

Did you know that more than 20,000 of them have died in service?  

Tell your students they will research one of 100 airmen and airwomen selected to represent all regions of the country. These Canadians died serving their country during the First World War to more recent years. By focusing on one individual in their research project, students can recognize and remember all Canadian air force personnel who have served.

What is a military dog tag?

Ask the students if they know what a military dog tag is. Have they ever seen one?

A dog tag is a piece of formal identification military personnel must wear while on duty. It is used to identify them should they die or are injured while on the job.

The term “dog tag” comes from its similarity to the tags used to identify dogs. Officially, it is called an “identity disc” or “ID tag.” The tag bears key information about the person wearing it. This includes their name, rank, service number and blood type. It also includes religion, so the appropriate clergy person is called in case of injury or death.

Canadian troops have worn these tags since the First World War. Canadian identification tags are now breakable into two pieces should a person die. One piece stays with the deceased and the Department of National Defence keeps the other piece of the tag. 

Click on these links to see images of some military dog tags:

Remembrance dog tags help youth to “put a face on remembrance.” In the context of this learning activity, these tags help youth to remember Canadian air force members who have died in service.

Research and preparation [15 minutes]

Using card-stock paper, print the dog tags of 100 fallen Canadian air force members  (PDF).

  • Cut out each dog tag. Laminate them if you would like to reuse them.
  • Punch two holes in each of the dog tags and insert a piece of string or a metal chain through the holes.
  • Hand out the dog tags.
  • Have students research the individuals using the Canadian Virtual War Memorial. Ask students to add the service number and age of the individual to the dog tag.
  • Encourage students to search online for more information about the person on their dog tag. They can enrich their presentations with their findings, such as information about the person’s hometown, where they enlisted, the places they served, the circumstance of their death and where the person is buried.

What is the Canadian Virtual War Memorial?

The Canadian Virtual War Memorial is a registry of more than 120,000 Canadians and Newfoundlanders who served and died for their country. It contains digitized photographs and personal memorabilia. It honours and remembers those who served and died in military uniform.

For further research

  • If the student is researching an individual who died during the First World War, suggest they use Library and Archives Canada’s Personnel Records of the First World War online database. The service records of all First World War personnel are available there to download.
  • If the student is researching an individual who died during the Second World War, suggest they use the Library and Archives Canada’s Service Files of the Second World War – War Dead, 1939-1947 online database. You can also encourage students to click on “How to obtain copies or consult a file” from the left-hand side menu and follow the instructions noted for Option #1, which will redirect them to the website. The service records of all Second World War personnel who died in service are available here to download. You and your students can create free accounts on Although there are a few important steps to follow before accessing a military file, with some patience you will be able to access a wealth of information on the person.
  • Researching an individual who died after the Second World War is sometimes challenging. Students may find online searches for relevant public information, such as newspaper websites, their best approach. Official sources of relevant personal information, like Library and Archives Canada, are generally not accessible due to privacy legislation. A minimum number of years must have passed before their military records are made public.

Presentations [30 minutes]

Ask each student to present information on the person they researched.

Wrap-up discussion [15 minutes]

Lead a discussion on the dog tag activity. Explore questions like:

  • Do you now have a better appreciation of the contributions made by Canadian air force members, especially those who died in service?
  • Who was or wasn’t represented in the group we researched?
    • What provinces and territories did they come from?
    • How old were they?
    • Where did they die and where are they buried?
      • Until 1970, Canadians were buried near where they died. Now, fallen service members are buried in Canada.
    • Were there very many women? Minorities? Indigenous peoples?
      •  This is an excellent opportunity to talk about barriers to service in Canada’s armed forces.
  • Is it still relevant to take the time to remember Canadians who died in service? What if  the person died more than one hundred years ago?
    • What are some other ways we can use our dog tags to honour those who have served? Some examples are:
      • wear the dog tag during remembrance ceremonies
      • add them into the design of a remembrance wreath
      • create a display in your classroom

Optional extension activities

Imagine the future

Share the Latin phrase Sic itur ad astra (“Such is the pathway to the stars”) with your class.This motto is associated with the Canadian Air Force since the 1920s.

What could it mean in the context of this lesson plan on Canadians who died while serving in the air forces? What do students think it says about the future of the air force?

Visit the RCAF 2024 centennial website and Fly back in time to explore important events in Canadian air force history.

What types of jobs do students think members of the air force will hold 100 years from now?

Stories firsthand

Help students meet and connect with a Veteran of today. Listen to the Veteran’s firsthand stories.

Invite a Veteran or a current member of the Royal Canadian Air Force share their experiences with your class as a guest speaker.

You can order and distribute recognition cards to show your gratitude to your speaker or to any Veteran or Canadian Armed Forces member in your community. It’s always the right time to say thank you!

If you are unable to find a speaker, have students watch some of these Heroes Remember videos in groups or as a class:

French interviews:

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