The World War Women special exhibition at the Canadian War Museum is well worth a visit. Multiple perspectives are addressed: women from different backgrounds, who participated in the war effort, protested the war, and were affected by war in different ways are profiled. It provides some excellent ideas for educators looking for entry points into Canadian women's experiences of war: types of womens' service in the Canadian Forces, Canada's labour history, technological advancements on the home front, continuity and change in gender roles, among many others. I was particularly struck by the oral testimony of a woman who worked at the airfields cleaning out cockpits after crashes. How many of the women war workers would have benefitted from mental health support that was not available to them?
World War Women also highlights a significant facet of Canada's experience of war that tends to be taught as an aside to the "real" story, rather than as an integral component of how we understand the experience of war. After all, it is a special exhibition rather than a part of the permanent collection. Do you teach about women' experiences of war in your classroom? Tweet us @TeachCanAtWar - what do you do? What ideas do you have?
On another note, the Teachers' Network is interested in exploring how to put together pieces of evidence such as letters, newspaper clippings and photographs, to create civilian packages similar to soldier files, to complement classroom work with the Lest We Forget project. It will be a longer-term project, but one we are committed to realizing, as the richness that civilian biographies can bring to the classroom study of the wars is much-needed. Anyone interested in participating in such a project, please drop us a line!