Canada’s oath of citizenship now recognizes First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights

The formal announcement and messaging. But still no new citizenship study guide, five years later:

Canada’s Oath of Citizenship is more than words. It is a public declaration of belonging to our country and to our communities. That’s why the government has been hard at work over the past few years updating the Oath to include Indigenous peoples, through Bill C-8. This directly responds to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Call to Action 94.

The recent news of the findings in the area around the Kamloops Residential School is a stark reminder of the importance of this work and the reason why we need continue to deliver on the TRC’s Calls to Action.

The Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced that Bill C-8 has received Royal Assent and is now law. As of today, Canada’s Oath of Citizenship officially recognizes First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and the obligation that all citizens have to uphold the treaties between the Crown and Indigenous nations.

The new Oath of Citizenship recognizes that Indigenous rights are both enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and that they derive from the historic use of this land by Indigenous peoples. As new Canadians recite the Oath, they will make a personal commitment to observe the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.

Reconciliation is a national project that involves all of us, including our newest citizens. Over the past few years, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has been working to implement several of the TRC’s Calls to Action and educate newcomers about their unique role in reconciliation.

On June 14, we announced that Indigenous people can now reclaim their traditional names on passports and other documents, fulfilling Call to Action 17. In response to Call to Action 93, we have been working hard at updating Canada’s Citizenship Guide to ensure new citizens understand the role of Indigenous peoples in our past, present and future. We look forward to sharing the new guide with Canadians later this year.

New oath:

“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

Source: https://www.canada.ca/en/immigration-refugees-citizenship/news/2021/06/canadas-oath-of-citizenship-now-recognizes-first-nations-inuit-and-metis-rights.html

Canadian citizenship oath could help newcomers learn more about Indigenous people

Suspect the forthcoming guide along with news coverage will be more significant but nevertheless, important:

Sharon Nyangweso says she first heard of Indigenous people in Canada when she was eight years old. Her family had just moved to Canada for her mother’s job at the Kenya High Commission in Ottawa. At one of the gatherings, a guest approached her mom upon learning they just arrived in the city.

What happened next stuck with Nyangweso.

The person told her mom to avoid Rideau Street because Indigenous people were there and “they were always drunk.” This memory unsettles her to this day, because the comment came not from a naturalized Canadian but from someone in her own circle.

“That came from another immigrant,” she said in a telephone interview Thursday. “Not just another immigrant but one that had intimate knowledge of what it meant to be part of a colonized nation.”

Nyangweso said there’s a wide gap when it comes to dissemination of information to immigrants about Indigenous Peoples and cultures in Canada. One that, she said, causes the perpetuation of misconceptions resulting from the country’s history of colonialism.

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the history and legacy of residential schools in Canada, issued 94 recommendations, or calls to action. Numbers 93 and 94 urged the federal government to update the Canadian citizenship guide and test, as well as the oath, to reflect a more inclusive history of Indigenous Peoples and a recognition of their treaties and rights. This way, newcomers and immigrants to Canada would have a more thorough understanding about First Nations, Metis and Inuit, as well as their cultures.

On Thursday, the House of Commons was set to adopt Bill C-8, which would amend the Citizenship Act to update the oath in line with what the TRC recommended.

The new oath would read: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

The House of Commons unanimously agreed to fast-track the proposed legislation, on Tuesday.

At a committee meeting Wednesday, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino thanked all members of Parliament for supporting the passage of the bill, saying he looks forward to working with colleagues in the Senate to ensure it becomes law.

His press secretary, Alexander Cohen, said: “Reconciliation is a whole-of-government initiative.”

Cohen also said the Liberal government is still revamping the content of the new citizenship guide to make it more inclusive. The new guide will have 10 chapters and will paint a diverse image of Canada. It will include stories of Black Canadians, LGBTQ Canadians, francophones and Canadians with disabilities. It will also have a chapter on residential school. There’s still no schedule as to when the updated guide will be released.

Matthew Norris, board president of the Urban Native Youth Association in Vancouver, B.C., said recent immigrants to Canada are in a good position to be allies to Indigenous people.

“I think newcomers to Canada have a role to play to understand where the society has come, where to go, and to be voices of support for Indigenous people, as we’re constantly trying to fight for our rights,” said Norris.

Norris said he encourages people and stakeholders to also look at other TRC calls to action, particularly regarding the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Bill C-15, which deals with that, is currently before the Senate.

Stronger calls to recommit to the project of reconciliation have emerged after Tk’emlups te Secwepemc First Nation announced last week that ground-penetrating radar located what are believed to be the remains of 215 children in an unmarked burial site on the grounds of a former residential school in Kamloops, B.C.

Over more than a century, some 150,000 First Nations, Metis and Inuit children were forcibly sent to government-funded, church-operated schools, where many suffered abuse and even death.

“We talk about Indigenous history but it’s also the Indigenous presence,” Norris said. “Residential schools weren’t that long ago. It’s affected our family members. It’s affected younger generations. Intergenerational trauma is continuing to rear its ugly head throughout our lives.”

Nyangweso, who just took her citizenship test recently, said adequate information about Indigenous lands, peoples and cultures will help newcomers and immigrants to better engage in civic processes and become better allies for Indigenous rights.

She added she hopes teaching newcomers about Indigenous people and cultures should not just start and end with the citizenship guide or the oath.

She said good information, that’s accessible outside of the citizenship guide, will equip immigrants and new Canadians to be more respectful inhabitants on Indigenous lands.

Source: Canadian citizenship oath could help newcomers learn more about Indigenous people

Senator Omidvar: A Practical First Step to Distance Ourselves from the Monarchy

Senator Omidvar raises whether the citizenship oath should remain only the Queen (as the Crown in the institutional sense) or to Canada C-8, the bill broadening the oath to include Indigenous treaty rights is before Parliament. This raises the possibility of an amendment during the Senate review of the Bill, and an interesting and overdue debate.

(The Chrétien government considered amending the oath some 25 years ago but the PM nixed the idea given timing closing to the 1995 Quebec referendum: “I’m not sure I want to take on the separatists and the monarchists at the same time.”) Citizenship oath to Queen nearly nixed 20 years ago

Oprah Winfrey’s interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry has raised questions about Canada’s connection to the monarchy.

It’s a strong and deep connection that’s expressed in many ways, big and small: We have a Governor General who represents the Queen in Canada, we maintain a residence for the Queen in Ottawa, our currency bears the image of a monarch, and every so often we host a royal tour.

The Senate of Canada, which I am privileged to belong to, is likely the institution most steeped in the ritual and traditions of Westminster. The doors to the Senate chamber are opened every sitting by the Usher of the Black Rod, who carries an ebony cane as a symbol of royal authority. He’s followed by the mace-bearer, because, without the mace, the Senate cannot meet. As a senator, I must bow to the Queen every time I enter or leave the Senate chamber. Every bill passed in the Senate receives a “royal” assent.

Despite these traditions, calls to drop the Queen and the monarchy from Canada have grown louder. However, anyone who’s even the least bit pragmatic will realize that efforts to remove the monarchy will likely lead to a protracted conflict between the federal government and the provinces. The political risks would likely be too high.

So, if dropping the monarchy isn’t an option right now, what can be done to insert more Canadiana into our practices and traditions?

I would look to one of the most fundamental building blocks of Canada: the citizenship oath. I know this process well. In 1985, I took the oath of citizenship. It was a landmark day for me and my family, giving us the official enfranchisement to be Canadian in every way. But as someone who was born in post-colonial India, I couldn’t help but wonder why I was swearing my allegiance to a distant monarch. I know that many new Canadians wonder the same thing, especially those who come to this brave new world from countries that have suffered under the yoke of colonialism.

Since then, I’ve matured in my understanding of how Canada was built and how it works, and have come to appreciate our traditions and Constitution. However, I believe we should be swearing allegiance to Canada, not the Queen — or at least letting new Canadians choose to whom they swear their allegiance: the Queen or Canada.

Australia shed the sovereign from its citizenship oath in 1994, instead asking citizens to commit to Australia and its values. Sen. Philip Faulkner made the case for reinforcing the notion of an Australian citizenship. He noted that “Australian citizenship, with its attendant rights and obligations, is part of the glue which binds the nation and its citizens in a manner that gives adequate recognition to the reciprocity of that bond.”

Citizenship lies solely under federal jurisdiction. The oath can be changed simply by passing a bill through Parliament. It would require political will and leadership, but it’s within the realm of the possible.

This would demonstrate that Canada has come of age, is exerting more independence, and is ever so slightly breaking away from the troubling history of colonialism. It’s time for us to make our own traditions.

Source: http://www.ratnaomidvar.ca/a-practical-first-step-to-distance-ourselves-from-the-monarchy/

Five years after call to add Indigenous rights to citizenship guide, no changes made

Valid critique. The government has prepared an advanced draft (Revamped citizenship guide still a work in progress as election nears.  and has tabled C-6 to change the oath), but whether the new guide will be issued or the bill receive Royal Assent before a likely election in the summer or fall remains to be seen:à

More than five years after the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called on the federal government to revise the Canadian citizenship oath and exam guide, newcomers still study a book that contains a single paragraph on residential schools and they take an oath that doesn’t refer to treaties with Indigenous Peoples.

Calls for action Nos. 93 and 94 in the commission’s final report in December 2015 called on the government to update the citizenship guide and oath to reflect a more inclusive history of Indigenous Peoples and a recognition of their treaties and rights.

The Liberal government introduced a new law in October to adopt a revised oath of citizenship that will have new Canadians swear to faithfully observe the country’s treaties with Indigenous Peoples. Two previous versions of the law died with the 2019 election.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino told the House of Commons Indigenous and northern affairs committee last month that his department is consulting with national Indigenous organizations to revise the citizenship guide to include more information.

The five largest Indigenous organizations in the country told The Canadian Press that they have not been involved in any formal consultations recently with the government on the new guide. The organizations are the Assembly of First Nations, the Metis National Council, the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples, the Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Native Women’s Association of Canada.

AFN Alberta Regional Chief Marlene Poitras said Indigenous Peoples’ history and culture should be reflected in the materials that newcomers study to become citizens.

“Absolutely, (the citizenship guide) should be changed,” she said in an interview.

“Education is key — about who we are, how we existed here and welcomed the newcomers here, signed treaties, then had to deal with residential schools.”

Natan Obed, president of Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami, said his organization worked with the Immigration Department in 2017 and 2018 on a new guide, but work has stopped.

The AFN asked the department in 2018 to seek out First Nations historians to ensure inclusion of First Nations content in the guide.

“Officials from (the department) have been in touch with AFN recently to discuss next steps and to share a new version of the guide. A meeting has not yet been scheduled,” the AFN said in a statement.

The department said in a statement the new citizenship guide will be published “as soon as we can,” noting that a launch date for the new guide has not been set.

Clement Chartier, the president of the Metis National Council, said his organization received a draft of the revised guide on May 3, 2018.

“Since then, I’ve not seen anything,” Chartier said.

NDP immigration critic Jenny Kwan said her party shares concerns about the slow progress on the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls for action.

She said the government’s introduction of Bill C-8 to revise the oath of citizenship came too late.

“This is the third time in which this bill has come before Parliament, and each time prior to this the government’s chosen to introduce the bill so late in the day,” she said.

Kwan said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has talked recently about the possibility of having an early federal election.

“Will Bill C-8 once again be railroaded and not be completed?” she said.

Poitras is worried C-8 would die in Parliament if an election is called, since that wipes the legislative agenda clean.

“I’m hearing that there’s another election and they still kind of go back and forth about the semantics of it,” she said,

“It’s not going to go anywhere again.”

The department said Mendicino is grateful to the parliamentary committee members for voting to sending C-8 back to the House of Commons for third reading he looks forward to seeing it pass through the Senate and become law as soon as possible.

Conservative Indigenous services critic Gary Vidal said it’s unfortunate that the Liberals once again seem to be missing an opportunity to act.

“The Liberal government has been big on promises of reconciliation but slow on action,” he said.

Lorraine Whitman, the president of Native Women’s Association of Canada, said she was invited to testify on Bill C-8 last week, only two days before the committee meeting.

“It would have been nice to be able to be included prior to it,” she said.

National Chief Elmer St. Pierre of the Congress of Aboriginal Peoples said his organization was not consulted on any of the new laws the government has put forward to advance the rights and the livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples.

“I was able to speak for six minutes on the citizenship,” he said referring to his testimony at the committee meeting on Bill C-8.

“We weren’t really informed and it was kind of like the 11th hour when they gave us the opportunity to talk,” he said.

Poitras said all political parties should work together to pass Bill C-8 quickly.

“Make this a non-partisan issue,” she said.

“If Canada is really serious about addressing systemic racism and dealing with truth and reconciliation, they would honour those recommendations and move forward with this legislation to receive royal assent.”

Source: Five years after call to add Indigenous rights to citizenship guide, no changes made

Change to citizenship oath not needed, [Conservative MP] Melillo

The Conservatives are making this an issue (while I agree with the original TRC proposed additional wording, the government version is excessively long – see Liberals propose changes to citizenship oath to respect Indigenous rights):

Kenora MP Eric Melillo says a change to Canada’s Oath to Citizenship shouldn’t be the priority of the House of Commons, as the Indigenous community is facing much larger issues than the wording of an oath.

In his comments at the House of Commons, Melillo spoke of Bill C-6, an act to amend the Citizenship Act. The bill aims to address the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action #94, which is to update Canada’s current Oath of Citizenship. The official oath is recited at a citizenship ceremony, and it is the final step to becoming a Canadian citizen.

“As an MP who represents 42 First Nation communities in my riding, I recently took the opportunity to speak with chiefs, community leaders and community members on their thoughts on this proposed change,” said Melillo.

The current oath reads as “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

The proposed new oath reads as “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

“What I heard resoundingly, was that we should not be spending our time debating this, when we could be talking about issues like clean drinking water, healthcare, and many things that impact the lives of First Nation communities much more prominently,” added Melillo.

In response, Richmond Hill MP Majid Jowhari says that this is just one step on the journey of reconciliation, and more needs to be done.

As of Feb. 15, 88 long-term drinking water advisories have been lifted since November 2015, and 62 long-term drinking water advisories are still in effect. This is actually higher than the previous 57-long term advisories that were in place as of July 10, 2019.

Across Canada, northwestern Ontario has the highest concentration of long-term drinking water advisories. Of the 62 advisories remaining, 20 can be found in the Kenora District.

Source: Change to citizenship oath not needed, Melillo

Peter Kent, at Second Reading, on 24 February:

….In the week since these proposed changes were reintroduced by the government, I have received messages from constituents, and from far beyond, which contend that this amendment amounts to typical Liberal tokenism and virtue signalling, pandering and should be opposed.

    I cannot speak to the Liberal government’s motivation here, because when it comes to public policy, inconsistency and contradiction are the hallmarks of legislative process and decision-making. However, I can say that I have spoken often in this House against proposals, very often from the Liberal government, to burden various sections of clearly written sections of law, of the Criminal Code, with unneeded specificities.
    In this debate, I must be clear that I believe the existing oath of citizenship does not need to be burdened with 19 new words that I believe are redundant. If we are to add first nations specificity, why not official bilingualism, why not privacy, why not national security, why not anti-Semitism?
    Therefore, I propose the following amendment. I move:
     That the motion be amended by deleting all of the words after the word “That” and substituting the following: “this House declines to give second reading to Bill C-6, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act (Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada’s call to action number 94), since the existing Oath of Citizenship already includes the profound promise of citizens to faithfully observe the laws of Canada and the bill does nothing to support real action to address reconciliation with Canada’s first nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

Rail blockades could affect vote to change citizenship oath: Conservative critic

May be more virtue signalling to the Conservative base or just another way to raise the profile of the blockade issue and the government’s response. But we shall see (for my earlier commentary on the proposed change to the oath, C-99 New Citizenship Oath: Dead on the Order Paper):

Blockades by Indigenous protesters will make it harder for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government to adopt planned legislation to add respect for First Nations treaties to Canada’s citizenship oath, says Conservative immigration critic Peter Kent.

“It will be difficult to engage in debate of this piece of legislation without the shadow of this week’s illegal blockades and the refusal of some in the Indigenous community, and many beyond the Indigenous community, to respect the rule of law,” Kent told CBC News on Friday.

Blockades by Mohawk protesters near Belleville, Ont., have snarled train traffic and stalled shipments of goods by rail. They are calling on the RCMP to leave Wet’suwet’en territory in northern British Columbia, where hereditary leaders were blocking roads leading to a construction site for the Coastal GasLink pipeline.

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino has served notice that he plans to reintroduce a bill first tabled last May in the dying days of the last Parliament. The bill would require new citizens to promise to observe the laws of Canada, “including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

In 2015, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which studied the impact of Canada’s residential school system, recommended adding respect for treaties to the citizenship oath.

Trudeau made changing the oath one of his instructions to former immigration minister Ahmed Hussen in his 2017 mandate letter. By the time legislation was finally tabled, however, there wasn’t enough time left before the House of Commons rose for the summer — then dissolved for the election — for it to be adopted.

Now, the 157-seat Liberal minority government is facing a very different Parliament — one where it needs the support of one or more opposition parties to get legislation passed.

Mendicino has started that process; he reached out to Kent on Friday to discuss the bill.

Kent said it’s too early to predict whether the 121-member Conservative caucus will vote to change the oath. However, he said, the blockades should trigger a “dynamic” debate in the House of Commons and within the Conservative caucus.

“This would have received, I think it is fair to say, dynamic debate in the previous Parliament if it had been tabled in time for a responsible consideration,” he said. “But I think in this minority Parliament, and given the realities that we see today, it’s going to be perhaps more dynamic than it might have been.”Kent said the Conservative Party respects treaty rights and the quest for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. He also said it could be argued that a promise in the existing citizenship oath — to observe Canada’s laws — encompasses treaty rights.

“Although I stand to be convinced in debate, I’m not sure that the specificity of including treaties, which are respected and which are among our body of laws, need to be specifically added,” Kent said.

“This is an opportunity to discuss and debate and hear from all quarters.”

Carolane Landry, spokeswoman for the 32-seat Bloc Québécois caucus, said the party will wait to read the bill before deciding whether to support it.

The 24-seat New Democratic Party caucus has not yet responded to questions from CBC News about whether it plans to endorse Mendicino’s bill.

Source: Rail blockades could affect vote to change citizenship oath: Conservative critic

How The U.S. Citizenship Oath Came To Be What It Is Today

But while the 1790 naturalization law established a framework for becoming a citizen, it didn’t implement a standard oath for the country, leaving the naturalization process varied from state to state for more than 100 years.

With no uniform process in place, a presidential commission was created in 1905 to study how to reform the country’s naturalization process.

“Due to the high number of immigrants from all different locations spreading through all over and across the U.S., by then there was as many as 5,000 courts with naturalization jurisdiction, and each of these courts had developed its own processes for administering the oath,” Wang says.

Many of the commission’s recommendations were included in the Basic Naturalization Act of 1906, according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. While the recommendations still didn’t lead to a standardized oath, at this point the decision was made to include language about defending “the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; and bear true faith and allegiance to the same,” according to the USCIS website.

It wasn’t until 1929 that the oath’s text was standardized. For much of the next two decades, the oath stayed the same. But with the U.S. facing a growing threat from the Soviet Union, the oath was amended in 1952 to emphasize service to country.

“There was an intent to make it more explicit that in becoming a citizen of the United States that you are also explicitly going to take action in defending this country when asked to,” Wang says.

The three major changes, Wang says, included, “adding [a part] around bearing arms on behalf of the United States when required … performing noncombatant services in the armed forces when required, and then the final one was added around performing work of national importance under civilian direction.”

These changes still exist in the oath used today.

“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”

Wang has gone to many naturalization ceremonies and has heard the oath recited many times, including by his own parents. No matter how often he hears those 140 words, he says, they still have emotional significance to him.

“Words matter, and when you hear people say this, each of them are doing what my parents did, which is actually give up part of their identity,” he says. “Something that they grew up with. Something that their family is.”

As people take the oath, they are often embracing a new identity and completing a journey that has lasted years and possibly even decades, Wang says.

“It truly is something that matters deeply to each and every one of the individuals that say it,” he says. “So when you see the tears on their faces, you can’t help but feel them welling up in your own.”

Source: How The U.S. Citizenship Oath Came To Be What It Is Today

C-99 New Citizenship Oath: Dead on the Order Paper

Did seem a tad cynical to introduce this bill so close to the election, not to mention my concerns regarding the proposed expanded wording (Liberals propose changes to citizenship oath to respect Indigenous rights):

Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen’s (York South-Weston, Ont.) bill to change the citizenship oath is also poised to die on the Order Paper when Parliament is dissolved for the upcoming election, at some point this summer.

The bill would have changed the oath taken by new Canadians during their citizenship ceremony, to recognize that the Constitution “recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.”

Mr. Hussen introduced Bill C-99 in the House on May 28. It was never debated.

PCO looks to add Indigenous treaties into citizenship oath

Hardly news – mentioned in Minister Hussen’s mandate letter more than a year ago.

Will, however, be interesting to see what “the very near future” means in terms of legislation actually means and whether it is stand-alone legislation or combined with other unannounced changes:

The federal government is looking at adding a commitment to Indigenous treaties in the oath that new Canadians take.

A spokesperson for immigration minister Ahmed Hussen said that while no official decision has been made, legislation to change the oath’s wording will be brought forward in “the very near future.”

The last sentence of the oath currently reads: “I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.” A possible new wording would oblige new Canadians to say “I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including Treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

The idea of additional language in the oath of citizenship was included in poll questions by Forum Research Inc. The firm conducts regular surveys for the Privy Council Office.

Just under half – 49 per cent – of Canadians polled said they agreed with the proposed change. Twenty two per cent were on the fence, while 26 per cent were opposed.

The polling used a mixed sample of landline and cellphone responses. The survey has a margin of error of +/- 4.38 percentage points and a confidence level of 19 times out of 20.

Respondents only supported the change with a caveat that newcomers be adequately educated about Indigenous peoples and treaties to ensure they don’t struggle with the new wording, according to the Canadian Press.

The Canadian Press also obtained notes that showed the government intends to modify the script for those presiding over citizenship ceremonies. The changes would refer to “ceremonies on traditional territories, and include remarks on the history of Indigenous people.”

If implemented, the change would put into practice one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action.

Capping off the list at No. 94, the call to action in question proposes the government make the exact change to the citizenship oath’s wording that was considered in the polling.

Hussen’s mandate letter includes an order to add the acknowledgement of Indigenous treaties to the oath.

A spokesperson for Hussen also asserted the government’s commitment to make changes to the citizenship guide and to the oath of citizenship to reflect Indigenous treaties.

This isn’t the first change to the existing citizenship processes to cross Hussen’s desk. Last fall, Conservative MP Michelle Rempel sponsored a petition to “ensure that the final draft of the new citizenship guide includes the condemnation of female genital mutilation.” The petition has over 25,000 signatures.

In late January, the government committed to including a warning about FGM in the citizenship guide.

There is no word yet on the exact timeline for potential changes to the citizenship oath, although Hussen’s spokesperson said legislation will be introduced in “the very near future.”

Proposed citizenship oath change prompts some to call for more education about Indigenous people: Consultations

Good account of the results of the consultations:

A revised oath of citizenship that will require new Canadians to faithfully observe the country’s treaties with Indigenous people is nearly complete.

The proposed new text was put to focus groups held by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada in March, following months of consultation by departmental officials.

The language comes from the 94th and final recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which examined the legacy of Canada’s residential schools.

Implementing that recommendation was one of the tasks given to Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen when he was sworn into his portfolio in January 2017, but work on it began soon after the commission delivered its recommendations in late 2015, briefing notes for the minister suggest.

Focus groups mixed on proposed changes

The notes, obtained by The Canadian Press under the Access to Information Act, show the government also wants to modify the script delivered by those who preside over citizenship ceremonies. The proposed notes say the script should refer to ceremonies on traditional territories, and include remarks on the history of Indigenous people.

When it comes to the oath, the inclusion of a reference to treaties is the only proposed change.

Changing the wording requires a legislative amendment to the Citizenship Act. The Liberals are in the process of overhauling the act in a bid to make citizenship easier to obtain.

When the proposed text was put to focus groups composed of both recent immigrants and longtime Canadian residents, reaction was generally positive, according to a report posted online by the Immigration Department this week.

But there was a caveat: “Participants only agreed with the modifications insofar as newcomers are adequately educated about Indigenous Peoples and the treaties,” the report said.

“Many felt that they themselves would struggle with this new formulation, given their own limited knowledge of the treaties.”

Some wondered about the need for changes at all.

“A few participants took it upon themselves to question the need to modify the oath and that it might represent a precedent whereby other groups in Canada will want to be represented in the oath,” the report said.

The new oath comes along with a major overhaul of the study guide used for the citizenship exam. A draft copy obtained by The Canadian Press earlier this year revealed it, too, will include extensive references to Indigenous history and culture.

The Liberals had originally been aiming to unveil both the new guide and oath around Canada Day, but work is ongoing.

It reads: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada including treaties with Indigenous Peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”

Source: Proposed citizenship oath change prompts some to call for more education about Indigenous people – Politics – CBC News