War, Massacre, or Terrorism?


A critical thinking challenge for students, ages 16-18


In the spring of 1864 a series of killings sent a chill across Canada. The blood of 14 men, spilled into the Homathco River before dawn on the morning of April 29th, 1864, was only the beginning of this conflict. By the end of May, 19 road-builders, packers, and a farmer were dead. Within six weeks an army of over 100 men had arrived in the area to catch the killers.

The killings took place in a remote triangle in central British Columbia that, at the time, was inaccessible by road or even horse trail. The dead men had all been part of the teams trying to build a road from the Pacific coast to the recently discovered goldfields of the Cariboo.

This area was traditional territory of the Tsilhqot’in people who had lived on the high Chilcotin Plateau for centuries, perhaps for thousands of years. The survivors of the attacks identified the principal leader of the more than 20 people involved in the killings as a Tsilhqot’in chief, who was called “Klatsassin” by his people.

Historians have variously called this incident a war, a massacre, or an act of terrorism. But which is it? Soldiers who kill many others during the course of war are not likely to be punished for these killings; in fact they may be honoured for these actions. Committing the same killings outside the context of war would likely result in serious consequences. But here again it may depend whether the killers were acting on behalf of their people to bring about a desired political goal, or simply acting for personal gain or revenge. In short, there is much at stake in deciding upon the kind of incident. You will be invited to examine selected historical documents from the time and draw your own conclusions about which term — war, massacre, or terrorism — most fairly describes this event.

The Task

This MysteryQuest invites you to assess the underlying nature of a violent conflict between whites and First Nations peoples in 1864. Was the killing of the road crew an act of terrorism by the Tsilhqot’in to discourage further trade and traffic in the area? Or were they defending their territory against an invading population? Perhaps they were avenging the deaths of their people who were killed by the European introduction of smallpox years earlier?

You will begin by considering the differences between the terms “war,” “massacre,” and “terrorism.” You will read about the background to this incident and then examine historical documents looking for statements that suggest how this event should be described. Finally, you will decide on the most appropriate term and explain your choice in a one-page essay.

continue investigation ….

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Does Music Speak to Your Values?

The Courage of Conviction: Social, Political, and Spiritual beliefs

The 1960s was a time when popular music—whether country, R&B, gospel, Motown or rock—spoke of themes such as overcoming adversity and the possibility of freedom and equality. Songs touched on messages about the hardships of racism, poverty, and the urban experience. During the Vietnam War, many songs were also written raising questions and calling for peace. Not only were songs on personal issues heavily requested, but also personalized songs, dedicated for a loved one, were pervasive.

Composers of songs that addressed social issues took risks to express their values, as well as their social, political and spiritual beliefs through their music. Some songs were ignored by radio stations. Yet, some of these same songs from the 60s are still on the airwaves today and most of them have endured and been recorded on CD, and are widely available online (YouTube, iTunes, Play). Newly composed and recorded music still speaks to us on many of these social themes and concerns.

Listen and Respond

Think of a song that you enjoy today that you believe speaks of an important social issue, such as race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. Listen to it a few times, and reflect on the following questions. Write out your answers.

  1. What are lyrics from the song that stir emotions in you? Why? Record the lyrics that you believe are the most powerful or memorable below:
  2. How do you feel when you listen to this song?
  3. Why do you think the themes and messages in the song are important?
  4. Do you believe that a wide range of people, for many years to come, will be able to connect with the meaning of this song (in the way that people have connected with the meaning of “People Get Ready” for more than 40 years)? Why or why not?

Group Discussion

If possible, share your song (by playing it) with a group and have each person share the song that he or she chose for this activity. Talk about the messages in the songs. Tell each other what your answers were to the questions above.

Write a Post

Write a post about a song in which its composer addressed social issues and took risks to express their values – their social, political, and spiritual beliefs – through their music.



Try These:

Sweet Music (One of These Days)
Written by Alicia Keys
Produced by Alicia Keys and Kerry Brothers (as Kerry “Krucial” Brothers)
Performed by Alicia Keys

Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
Written by Stevie Wonder, Sylvia Moy, Henry Cosby
Performed by Stevie Wonder

Written by George Donald McGraw
Performed by Rock-a-Teens (as Rock A-Teens)

Rave On
Written by Del ‘Sonny’ West (as Sunny West), Bill Tilghman, Norman Petty
Performed by Buddy Holly

Kaw Liga
Written by Hank Williams, Fred Rose
Performed by Hank Williams

Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
Written by Hank Williams

If We Never Needed the Lord Before We Sure Do Need Him Now
Written by Thomas A. Dorsey

I Can’t Get Next to You
Written by Norman Whitfield (as Norman J. Whitfield), Barrett Strong
Performed by The Temptations

I’m Blue
AKA “The Gong Gong Song”
Written by Ike Turner
Performed by The Ikettes

Last Night
Written by Charles Axton, Chips Moman, Floyd Newman, Gilbert Caple, Jerry Lee ‘Smoochy’ Smith
Performed by The Mar-Keys

Shake It Up Baby (AKA Twist and Shout)
Written by Bert Berns, Phil Medley
Performed by The Isley Brothers

My Guy
Written by Smokey Robinson
Performed by Mary Wells

Function at the Junction
Written by Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.), Shorty Long (as Frederick Long)
Performed by Shorty Long

My Home is on the Delta
Written by Muddy Waters (as McKinley Morganfield)
Performed by Muddy Waters

I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honeybunch)
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)

Can You Do It
Written by Richard Street, Thelma Gordy
Performed by The Contours

Burnt Biscuits
Written by Chips Moman, Booker T. Jones (as Booker T. Jones, Jr.)
Performed by The Triumphs

I’m on My Way to Canaan
Written and Performed by Mahalia Jackson

Baby Love
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)
Performed by The Supremes

Jordan River
Written by James Herndon
Performed by Shirley Cesar

Texas Fight
Written by Colonel Walter S. Hunnicutt, James E. King, Burnett “Blondie” Pharr

Green Onions
Written by Booker T. Jones, Steve Cropper, Lewie Steinberg and Al Jackson Jr.
Performed by Booker T. & the M.G.s (as Booker T. and the MG’s)

I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)
Written by Otis Redding, Jerry Butler
Performed by Otis Redding

Ain’t That Good News
Written by James Cleveland
Performed by The Meditation Singers

El Paso
Written by Marty Robbins

Going to a Go-Go
Written by Smokey Robinson, Marvin Tarplin, Warren Moore, Bobby Rogers (as Robert Rogers)
Performed by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles

Written by Junior Walker (as Autry Dewalt)
Performed by Jr. Walker & The All Stars

You’re a Wonderful One
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Edwards Holland, Jr.
Performed by Marvin Gaye

Get Ready
Written by Smokey Robinson
Performed by The Temptations

Ain’t That Peculiar
Written by Smokey Robinson, Marvin Tarplin, Warren Moore, Bobby Rogers (as Robert Rogers)
Performed by Marvin Gaye

Down in the Boondocks
Written by Joe South
Performed by Billy Joe Royal

Ballad of the Green Berets
Written by Barry Sadler (as Barry A. Sadler), Robin Moore
Performed by Barry Sadler (as Sgt. Barry Sadler)

Road Runner
(AKA “I’m a Road Runner”)
Written by Brian Holland, Lamont Dozier, Eddie Holland (as Edward Holland Jr.)
Performed by Jr. Walker & The All Stars

Dancing in the Street
Written by Marvin Gaye (as Marvin P. Gaye), Ivy Jo Hunter, William Stevenson
Performed by Martha & The Vandellas

These Arms of Mine
Written and Performed by Otis Redding

People Get Ready
Written by Curtis Mayfield
Performed by The Impressions

Up All Night Blues
Written by Rick Garcia, Craig Eastman
Performed by The Raven Shadows

The Eyes of Texas
Written by John Lang Sinclair

On, On, U. of K.
(University of Kentucky)
Written by C.A. Lampert

People Get Ready
Written by Curtis Mayfield
Produced by Alicia Keys and Kerry Brothers (as Kerry “Krucial” Brothers)
Performed by Alicia Keys and Lyfe Jennings

I Will Make the Darkness Light
Written by Charles P. Jones
Produced by Alicia Keys and Trevor Rabin
Performed by Alicia Keys

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Canadian Military Spending

Politicians often state that one letter received from a citizen is worth a thousand votes.

Decide whether you think Canada is spending too little or too much on the military.

Now write a letter to the Minister of Defence, arguing your point deductively.

Apply your premise to a specific example or examples, such as tanks, fighter planes, destroyers, submarines, etc.

As you look over your “discovery draft,” see whether you have specialized in either argumentation or persuasion. If your treatment seems too extreme, modify it in your next draft with a dose of the other approach, to produce a more combined approach.

In your final draft, edit for conciseness (the best letters to politicians are short).

Finally, submit your letter to your member of parliament.

Canadian Forces “Combat Camera”
Members of Parliament
Leon Benoit
Hon. Peter Gordon MacKay

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Down Came A Blackbird and Pecked Off Her Nose!

“Let me write a nation’s songs, and I care not who writes its laws.”

Much has been written of the impact on children of mass media, with their excesses of violence and sex and their distortion of reality. The trouble may start at the parents’ knee with indoctrination through nursery rhymes.

Make a list of rhymes and stories that you remember and discuss their unpleasant overtones.

For example, did you ever think of the “four and twenty blackbirds” being baked alive?

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Do you believe in omens (signs of events that will happen)? There have been many accounts of people reporting the occurence of strange phenomena (facts or events as they appear to the senses) just before some significant event, good or bad, took place. Have you ever had or do you know someone who has had such an experience?

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Philosophy Conundrums

Philosophy Conundrums


 There are people on the streets without shelter; the government owns many vacant houses no one wants to buy. Should the government let these people live in these houses?


There is a book in the library that I think is a neat book. The publisher owns the copyright but will not print any more copies of the book to sell. Do I have the moral right to photocopy the book then?


Suppose that the earth was perfectly smooth all the way around, with no hills or valleys or bumps of any sort, and suppose you tie a ribbon around the equator after pulling it tight so that it fits snugly to the surface all the way around. Now imagine splicing in an extra piece of ribbon –exactly one meter (that is, 100 centimetres) long– and then smoothing out the entire ribbon all the way around the globe, pulling out all the slack so that the ribbon is now everywhere the same height above the earth’s surface, if it comes above the earth’s surface at all. Will you notice a difference?


If one twin gets in a rocket ship and takes a 50-year space trip at very near the speed of light, when he returns to earth, will he be much younger or older than the twin who stayed here on earth?


In order to figure out a math problem, do you need to know whether you are doing it in Greek math, French math, God’s math, or Canadian math?


Are Man’s hockey rules different from God’s hockey rules?


Are Man’s and God’s mathematical laws and principles different?


If you drop a raw egg from the roof of the Fr. Cordeau Centre onto the lawn below, will it break?


If the current 100-meter sprint world champion, Donovan Bailey is healthy and ran a fair 100-yard race tomorrow against Mr. Sader, will the Thirty-something-year-old, slightly scrawny, Mr. Sader win by at least 3 seconds?


For children to grow up to be happy, you should not raise them in ways that (1) make them insensitive to other people’s sorrows and problems so that they do not feel bad just because someone else is suffering, and so that they don’t have to be concerned with other people any more than is simply polite, and (2) make sure they have only limited goals and aspirations because those will be much easier to be successful at and therefore bring happiness.


 If God and people both have to figure out what is mathematically or morally correct, people cannot figure out any of the same principles or answers God can without looking at God’s answer sheet.


 Suppose that your spouse or your baby, like in an old movie, is tied to a railroad track with a train approaching that is carrying 100 people. You are at the switch, but if you switch the train away from your spouse or baby, it will run over a broken bridge off a high cliff with jagged rocks and a raging current hundreds of feet below. What should you do? Why?


What is the modern definition of death?


Do I have the moral right to secretly hook up to the cable TV company, even though it is illegal?


Is it reasonable to forgive somebody who is not sorry for the wrong thing that he did?


If a person is irresponsible and does something that hurts someone else, should he be punished?


If a person is irresponsible and does something that hurts only himself, should he be punished?


You can never leave any room you are in, because before you can get to the door, you first have to go halfway to the door. But before you get halfway to the door you must first get halfway to that place (that is, one-fourth of the way to the door). But there are an infinite number of such halfway places and you do not have time to go to an infinite number of places, so you can never get out of any room — or move anywhere. Right?


A turtle and a rabbit are about to run a race, and the rabbit wants to be fair so he gives the turtle a good head start. The race begins and pretty soon the rabbit gets up to the place where the turtle has started from. But, of course, the turtle has moved ahead a bit to a new place, further down the course. So pretty soon the rabbit gets to that place, but again, by then the turtle has moved ahead to the next new place. When the rabbit gets there, the turtle will again have moved ahead. Therefore the rabbit can never beat the turtle because the rabbit can in fact never even catch up with the turtle, since every time he gets to where the turtle was just an instant ago, the turtle will have already left that place. Right?


If your spouse wants to go out for the evening with you, say to a particular movie, but you do not want to go, what should you do?


Describe exactly what it is for someone to have a headache.


What is a brave act?


In the middle of a large field there is an old oak tree with a thick trunk. A squirrel is on the trunk of the tree, about five feet from the ground. A man is on the other side of the tree about 10 feet from it. He knows the squirrel is there and he circles around the tree in order to see the squirrel. But the squirrel does not want to be seen, so it circles the trunk too (in the same direction), keeping the trunk between himself and the man. Both are going around the tree, but is the man going around the squirrel or not? Why or why not?


Can you tell who wrote or is playing a piece of music (or who wrote a work of literature) even if you never heard (or read) the piece before? Do writers and performers have particular characteristics or styles? If a writer or performer does have particular characteristics that are in most of his/her work, does that make her/him better or worse than someone who does not have a particular style? Or does it make no difference? Why?


What makes a film or TV program or series a good one?


Would it be theoretically possible to make a robot or computer that could think?


When, if ever, is it right to break a promise or a date or appointment?


What makes a work of art (painting, music, film, sculpture, literature, or whatever) a good one?


What is a good person?


Is it more important to be a good person (and/or do the right thing) or to have good things happen to you?


If the mind is the place that all your sensations are perceived, how can you tell they don’t simply start there?













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Human Qualities and Ideals in Film

Davidge: “If one receives evil from another, let one not do evil in return. Rather, let him extend love to the enemy, that love might unite them.” I’ve heard all this before… in the human Taalmaan.
Jerry: Of course you have. Truth is truth.

From the film, Enemy Mine (1985)

Enemy Mine(1985)

Enemy Mine(1985)

Imagine a character from the film has arrived somehow in your world (in character, not the actor). Imagine the situation in which you sit down and have a 3-5 minute conversation with him/her. Write the dialogue of your conversation with the character.

Consider some of the following questions:

  1. What does this film make you think or wonder about?
  2. From this film, what did you learn about life, about different places, about history, about science, about religion, and so on?
  3. What is the film really about?
  4. Do you think the title is appropriate?
  5. What are some of the most important ideas?
  6. Were there parts of the film you didn’t understand?
  7. What does the film make you want to learn more about?
  8. What lessons does the film teach about life?
  9. Where else could the story take place?
  10. Could the setting be a real place that exists now?
  11. In any other time or place, how would the story change?
  12. Who is the most important character?
  13. Who is the most interesting character?
  14. Which character taught you the most?
  15. What seems to drive this person to action?
  16. What action tells us most about this person?
  17. What action affects your feelings about this person?
  18. What are some basic character traits of this person?
  19. What is the greatest weakness of this person?
  20. How does this person relate to other people?
  21. What is special or important about this person’s moral or religious life?
  22. How does this person change or mature?
  23. What personal insights enlighten this person?
  24. What in our world would shock the central character most?
  25. What would make anyone know this character didn’t fit in our world?
  26. What serious matters could you talk about with this person?
  27. What important values would you disagree on?
  28. What would your parents think about this character?
  29. What social causes would this person support?
  30. What television programs would be most appealing to this character?
  31. What would be the political affiliation, if any, of this person?
  32. What religious dogma would be most appealing or disgusting to this character?






“The story of a man, incomplete in himself, taught to be a human by his sworn enemy, an alien being who leaves with the human its most important possession: its future.” from iUniverse

The Human Condition


Pingo Lingo Discussion Questions on Enemy Mine

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