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Lesson Plan: The Canadian Armed Forces and the Gulf War Fact Quest


To increase youth awareness of Canadian Armed Forces efforts during the 1990-1991 Gulf War.


Youth will:

  • demonstrate a basic understanding of the events surrounding the Gulf War;
  • gain an appreciation of the challenges faced by Canadian Armed Forces members who served in the Persian Gulf during the conflict; and
  • develop an awareness of the importance of remembering the sacrifices and achievements of Canadian Armed Forces Veterans.

Target audience

This activity is suitable for ages 12 to 18.

Sequence of events and anticipated time frame [70 minutes]

(This activity can be modified to fit available time.)

  • Introductory discussion [15 minutes]
  • Research [20 minutes]
  • Debrief [20 minutes]
  • Wrap-up discussion [15 minutes]
  • Possible extension activities [variable]


Introductory discussion [15 minutes]

More than 2.3 million Canadians have served our country in uniform over the years—that is more than the entire population of several provinces. Begin a discussion about how Canada, despite having a largely peaceful society that is the envy of many around the world, has taken part in several conflicts during our history.

Brainstorm about the various roles played by Canadian Armed Forces members. Are the students aware of any military or humanitarian efforts that they have undertaken in more recent years either here in Canada or abroad? Ask if any of them know about the Gulf War that was fought in the early 1990s and the role that Canadians played in this conflict. You may wish to record their responses in a thought web.

Talk about where Iraq, Kuwait and the Persian Gulf are in the world relative to where Canada is located. You can then segue into discussing in general terms what the 1990-1991 Gulf War was about. In the process you could explore existing knowledge youth may have based on movies they have seen, books they have read or stories they have heard, and then tell them how this activity will give them an opportunity to learn more about this unique conflict.

Research [20 minutes]

Distribute the Canadian Armed Forces and the Gulf War information sheet and the accompanying student question sheet. Have everyone read the information sheet and answer the questions. Tell them that they will be called on to share what they have learned. They should also search out the Persian Gulf region on a world map during this phase of the activity.

Debrief [20 minutes]

Ask the youth to identify the countries in the Persian Gulf region on the world map and lead a debrief of the answers they found for the questions. Take the opportunity to see if anyone has family or neighbours who may have served in the Gulf War. Youth could also share their personal thoughts about the nature of Canada’s military actions there in the early 1990s and the importance of remembering these events.

Wrap-up discussion [15 minutes]

Ask them to reflect on the following statement:

Some 4,000 Canadian men and women served during the 1990-1991 Gulf War. It was dangerous duty in an inhospitable war zone far from home in the Middle East. Our warships helped patrol the waters of the region, our warplanes launched attacks on enemy targets, and our soldiers helped defend military installations and established a field hospital to treat the sick and wounded. With great courage the Canadians helped the coalition forces achieve victory and liberate Kuwait.

Then lead a discussion based on the following questions:

  • What do you imagine the people of Kuwait thought about the Canadians who came halfway around the world and put their lives on the line to help liberate their country?
  • Do you think the efforts our country made in the Gulf War were worth it?
  • Do you think it is important to remember the Canadians who served in the Gulf War even though the conflict has been over for a quarter of a century?
  • How do you think the efforts of Canadian Armed Forces members during the Gulf War compare with those of Canadians who served during the First and Second World Wars, the Korean War and in Afghanistan?

You may conclude this activity by showing The Pride of our Country video [1 minute] and/or the Our Veterans Matter video [1 minute] which offer a small glimpse of the kind of men and women who make up Canada’s modern-day Veteran population.

Possible extension activities [variable]

There are a number of ways you could extend this lesson. For example, you could ask youth to imagine that they are war correspondents covering the Gulf War and then have them file news reports. These could be in the form of mock newspaper articles, radio broadcasts or television news stories.

Alternately, students could imagine that they were Canadian Armed Forces members taking part in the conflict who are writing home to tell their family or friends what they have been going through. Or they could imagine that they are loved ones writing to military personnel in the Persian Gulf region asking them if they are okay, what it is like and how they are feeling.

Inviting a Canadian Armed Forces Veteran who served in the Gulf War to be a guest speaker would be an exceptional opportunity to learn first-hand what it was like to serve in the cause of peace and freedom in our country’s more recent international military efforts. For more information visit the Memory Project Speakers Bureau website.

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