Citizenship study guide remains outdated in its ‘simplistic’ account of Indigenous history, critics say

Ironically, a simplistic article on the citizenship guide, citing only one activist and the NDP critic, and no reference to the previous guide’s, A Look at Canada, lack of reference to residential schools, and no detailed comments from the IRCC media folks unlike other CBC articles.

And while NDP immigration critic is correct in her critique of the government’s slow progress, she should look in the mirror as by and large her focus has been on immigration and refugees, not citizenship (like most MPs given constituent pressures):

When Nazanin Moghadami started reading the Discover Canada guidebook in 2018 to prepare for her citizenship exam, she says she felt like she was being lied to about the country’s real history.

While there were paragraphs about Hudson’s Bay and hockey, she says she found nothing helpful and accurate about Indigenous history, treaties and residential schools.

“It was the most triggering text I have read in a long time,” recalls Moghadami, who said she had educated herself about Indigenous history and culture before she started preparing for her citizenship test.

She had also taken the Indigenous Canada course, which explores key issues Indigenous peoples face today, before she picked up the citizenship guidebook.

On June 22, Canada adopted a revised citizenship oath that recognizes First Nations, Inuit and Métis rights.

But a revised Discover Canada study guide has yet to be revealed, something a number of Canadians say is needed to reflect a more inclusive history of Indigenous Peoples, treaties and residential schools.

“Reading [Discover Canada] felt like a bunch of lies, a very simplistic version of history in a way that was very biased and very much favoured picturing Europeans in a good light, really whitewashing the violence. It just sounded very hypocritical,” said Moghadami, who immigrated to Canada from Iran in 2005.

‘When Europeans explored Canada …’

Discover Canada was last updated in 2012.

That’s despite two of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 94 calls to action in 2015 urging the federal government to update the 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.

Source: Citizenship study guide remains outdated in its ‘simplistic’ account of Indigenous history, critics say

Canada’s citizenship study guide for newcomers is getting an ‘unvarnished’ makeover. Here’s how it’s evolved — from 1947 to today

Good overview of the evaluation of the guide as well as some of the key messaging in the forthcoming guide (we will see if roll-out “later this year” survives the expected election call, but clear from spokesperson the guide is ready for release):

For more than seven decades, the federal government has published a citizenship study guide for wannabe Canadians — a booklet that touches on Canada’s history and geography, its political structure and key tenets of what it means to be a good citizen.

The current version, however, hasn’t been updated in more than a decade, drawing criticism for using outdated terminology and leaving out or sanitizing darker moments of Canada’s past, including attempts to forcibly assimilate Indigneous Peoples.

In 2015, one of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s “calls to action” included that the information kit for newcomers “reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal Peoples of Canada, including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools.”

The current guide includes only one paragraph on residential schools.

After years of delay, and in the wake of the recent revelations of hundreds of unmarked graves being found at the site of former residential schools in Kamloops, B.C., and Marieval, Sask., the federal government now says it expects to roll out later this year a revamped study guide that will present a more “honest” portrait of the country’s past and present.

“The new guide will give aspiring Canadians an unvarnished picture of our country’s history, including extensive information (on) its darker moments,” said Alexander Cohen, press secretary for Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino.

He said the guide will include a section outlining the government’s attempts to compel Indigenous Peoples to adopt European customs through policies “designed to end Indigenous ways of life, languages and spiritual beliefs.”

“It includes thorough descriptions of the horrors of residential schools, like physical and sexual abuse, and the fact that many children died in residential schools and were buried in unmarked graves,” he said.

“It emphasizes the lasting effect of residential schools on both individuals and Indigenous communities writ-large, stressing that ‘these impacts will continue for generations.’”

The new guide will also touch on the history of slavery in Canada and the Underground Railroad; discrimination against Chinese immigrants through the head tax; the Komagata Maru incident that saw more than 350 South Asian migrants denied entry to Canada; the internment of Japanese-Canadians during the Second World War; the demolition of Africville, a community of Black Canadians in Halifax, in the 1960s; and Canada’s missing and murdered Indigenous women.

It will also include an acknowledgment of the existence of systemic racism and efforts to combat it, as well as new information on a variety of historically under-represented groups, such as Francophones, women, Black Canadians, the LGBTQ2 community and Canadians with disabilities, Cohen said.

People profiled in the guide will include Olivier Le Jeune, one of the first enslaved Africans brought to New France; Boyd Whiskeyjack, board member of the Edmonton 2 Spirit Society; Indigenous leaders such as senators Murray Sinclair and Nora Bernard; prominent feminists, such as aircraft designer Elsie MacGill and Idola Saint-Jean, the Quebec journalist and champion of women’s suffrage; and refugees, such as Supreme Court Justice Rosalie Abella and Victoria City Coun. Sharmarke Dubow. 

As the government prepares to release the new guide, the Star decided to take a look back at previous iterations to see what sort of language the government has used to represent Canada’s history to newcomers and to define what it meant to be a responsible citizen.

1947

Prior to 1947, people living in Canada were British subjects. But that all changed at the end of the Second World War, when Paul Martin Sr., then a Liberal cabinet minister and secretary of state, visited the Canadian war cemetery in Dieppe, France. It is said that visit inspired him to create legislation that would formally recognize Canadian citizenship.

The first version of the citizenship guide boasts of Canada’s emergence from the war as a “great nation.”

“Her vast resources, her agricultural and industrial capacity, exercise a profound influence on world affairs,” the guide states. “Her people, drawn from every racial group, are welded into a mighty democratic force through their love of freedom, hatred of oppression, and the steadfast determination that the powers of government shall be exercised by and through the people for the common benefit of all.”

Would-be Canadians are told Canada has the distinction of being first in the world in the production of newsprint, nickel, radium, platinum and asbestos. The quality of life in Canada is also said to be one of the highest in the world, due to “substantial” wages for industrial workers and “outstanding” production of consumer goods.

There is a lengthy recitation of the arrival of European settlers but scant mention of their interaction with Indigenous Peoples.

Citizenship applicants are told they must have “adequate knowledge” of English or French or have resided in Canada for 20 years. It is up to a judge to determine what is “adequate.” It is also up to a judge to determine whether an applicant has demonstrated good character.

“The definition of ‘good character’ raises a point involving wide differences of opinion as some judges are more strict than others.” 

1964

The 1964 version of the citizenship guide highlights Canada as a “nation of immigrants.” 

“All have brought with them the traditions of their various countries and cultures. They have settled in Canada, have become a part of it but, at the same time, they have contributed to the cultural diversity which is characteristic of the country,” the guide states.

The guide notes that a “very small part” of the Canadian population is composed of “native Indians and Eskimos” who had been “living here for thousands of years before the first European arrived.” 

“In this sense they are the most truly Canadian of the country’s citizens.”

Despite this acknowledgment, Indigenous people are only briefly mentioned elsewhere in the guide in the context of the fur trade and “violent wars … among the Indian tribes who had allied themselves with either French or British settlers.”

With a population of 19 million, Canada is seeing a decline in agriculture and rapid growth in manufacturing, commerce and urban jobs, would-be Canadians are told. More people are moving to cities and towns. Women are working outside the home more often and “many of those who work are married.”

There is a rather large section devoted to Canada’s cultural expansion. Theatre, opera, music, ballet, painting and other arts are said to be “flourishing.” Summer cottages, camping and motor trips are said to be very popular with many Canadians, as is indoor bowling during winter months.

New citizens are encouraged to not only obey the law, but to advocate for changes to laws if they feel it’s in the public interest to do so. They are also told stay on top of public affairs, including by listening to political discussions on radio and TV, and urged to participate in community affairs by joining local organizations or running for office.

“It may be that by concentrating on his daily work he can best serve the good of the people and the welfare of the nation. This may be true of the mother of a family, the scientist or artist, for example.” 

1975

In the late 1960s and early 1970s, Canada, under Pierre Elliott Trudeau, formally adopted policies of bilingualism and multiculturalism.

These developments are reflected in the opening pages of the 1975 citizenship guide. 

“Newcomers find it an advantage to learn at least one of these languages for their everyday use in Canada,” the guide states. 

“This does not mean by any means that you have to give up your own culture and traditions, as Canada is also officially a multicultural country. Through the Canadian government’s multicultural policy you can maintain your inherited culture and share it with your fellow-Canadians. In this way, all Canada will be richer, in developing a new identity that is drawn from all parts in the world.”

The guide goes on to define a “good citizen” as someone who has a keen interest in the community, a sense of responsibility for the common good, a respect for law, a respect for the rights of others, keeps up to date on public issues and is willing to share their talent, knowledge and experience to help solve local and national problems.

Besides voting, would-be citizens are encouraged to become engaged citizens by holding public meetings, writing letters to the editor, calling in to radio hotline shows and circulating petitions.

“In Canada such activities are not discouraged or forbidden by the government. Instead they are supported as a wholesome part of the democratic process.”

1995

Pride in the different cultural and ethnic groups that live and work “together in harmony” is emphasized in the opening pages of the 1995 citizenship guide. So is the idea of equality. “We have shown how much we value this idea by having it written into the Constitution as the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.”

For the first time, would-be Canadians are introduced to some of Canada’s symbols, including the beaver, the red-and-white maple leaf flag and the Queen as head of state. 

The guide also devotes a section to the “Aboriginal Peoples of Canada.”

“When Europeans arrived in what is now Canada, they began to make agreements, or treaties, with Aboriginal Peoples. The treaty making process meant that Aboriginal people gave up their title to lands in exchange for certain rights and benefits. Most of the agreements included reserving pieces of land to be used only by Aboriginal Peoples. These pieces of land are called ‘reserves,’” the guide states.

“Today, Aboriginal groups and the Canadian government continue to negotiate new agreements for land and the recognition of other rights. Aboriginal Peoples in Canada are working to keep their unique cultures and languages alive. They are trying to regain control over decisions that affect their lives — in other words, to become self-governed. Aboriginal Peoples continue to play an active role in building the future of Canada.”

The guide expands on what it means to be a responsible citizen, urging people to, among other things, “express opinions freely while respecting the rights and freedoms of others,” “care for Canada’s heritage” and “eliminate discrimination and injustice.”

2000-2002

At the start of the 21st century, the citizenship guide’s opening pages highlight Canada’s “genius” for compromise and coexistence and for being a peaceful nation.

“Canadian history and traditions have created a country where our values include tolerance and respect for cultural differences, and a commitment to social justice,” the guide states. In the 2002 version, the word “tolerance” is dropped.

A nod is given to the millions of immigrants who have helped build the country. Indigenous people are said to constitute an important part of the country’s population and are described as “working to protect and promote their languages, cultures and traditions and acquire self-government.”

In describing the treaties that granted Indigenous people certain rights and benefits in exchange for giving up title to land, the 2002 version adds that each treaty is “unique and is seen as a solemn promise.”

For the first time, the guide devotes a section to the importance of sustainable development, noting that while economic growth is crucial for the future of Canada, “it cannot come at the expense of the environment.”

The notion of environmental citizenship is introduced. Individuals are encouraged to recycle, carpool and use public transit. The 2002 version tells people they should also conserve energy and water, plant trees and avoid using chemicals.

2009-2012 (the current Discover Canada)

The most recent version of the citizenship guide was produced under the Conservative government of Stephen Harper.

Newcomers are told they “must” learn about Canada’s history, symbols, democratic institutions and geography. The guide also impresses upon would-be citizens the idea of “shared traditions, identities and values.”

It emphasizes in its opening pages the various responsibilities of new Canadians. 

“Getting a job, taking care of one’s family and working hard in keeping with one’s abilities” are described as “important Canadian values.” Serving on a jury is also highlighted.

Would-be citizens are told that there are different ways to help out in the community, including volunteering for a charity and “encouraging newcomers to integrate.”

Language reinforcing “the equality of women and men” is introduced for the first time.

“In Canada, men and women are equal under the law,” the guide states. “Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings,’ female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws.”

Serving in the Canadian Forces is said to be a “noble” career choice.

For the first time, the guide touches on how the arrival of European traders, missionaries, soldiers and colonists “changed the native way of life forever.”

“Large numbers of Aboriginals died of European diseases to which they lacked immunity. However, Aboriginals and Europeans formed strong economic and military bonds in the first 200 years of coexistence, which laid the foundations of Canada.”

There is a passing reference to how treaties “were not always fully respected.” A paragraph is devoted to how the government “placed” Indigenous children in residential schools.

“The schools were poorly funded and inflicted hardship on the students; some students were physically abused,” the guide states. “Aboriginal languages and cultural practices were mostly prohibited. In 2008, Ottawa formally apologized to the former students.”

More words are devoted later in the guide to the importance of hockey in Canadian culture.

Would-be citizens are told that after the first Métis uprising, Prime Minister John A. Macdonald established the North West Mounted Police in 1873 to “pacify the West and assist in negotiations with the Indians.” The Royal Canadian Mounted Police are described as “one of Canada’s best-known symbols” that has produced “some of Canada’s most colourful heroes.” (Scholars have in recent years challenged this romanticized version of the force’s historical role, arguing that they were involved in colonial “containment and surveillance” of Indigenous people.)

The guide includes a list of notable Canadians behind great discoveries and inventions.

They are all men.

Source: https://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2021/06/26/canadas-citizenship-study-guide-for-newcomers-is-getting-an-unvarnished-makeover-heres-how-its-evolved-from-1947-to-today.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=thestar_canada

‘It’s about time’ to update citizenship guide, Assembly of First Nations Alberta chief says

Of note:

Assembly of First Nations Alberta regional chief Marlene Poitras hopes newcomers to Canada will learn more about Indigenous history and culture once the federal government updates its citizenship guide.

The 68-page document, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship, prepares newcomers for the citizenship test. It has not been updated since 2012.

In its 93rd call to action, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission called for revising the guide and citizenship test to “reflect a more inclusive history,” including material about treaties and residential schools.

Residential schools are mentioned briefly in the current guide.

“The schools were poorly funded and inflicted hardship on the students; some were physically abused,” one sentence reads.

The Liberal government promised in 2016 that changes to the guide were coming but they have not yet materialized.

“It’s about time — it should have happened a long time ago,” Poitras said Wednesday in an interview with CBC Edmonton’s Radio Active.

Beyond consultations for the guide itself, Poitras said she has recommended that elders participate in the ceremonies for new citizens.

“We have been hard at work over the past few years crafting a new citizenship guide that reflects contemporary Canada,” said Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada spokesperson Nancy Caron in an emailed statement.

Caron said the process has included “extensive collaboration ” with leaders of Indigenous organizations as well as historians, academics, parliamentarians and groups representing racialized communities, women, francophones, the LGBTQ community and people with disabilities.

The ministry hopes to share the new guide with Canadians later this year, Caron said.

“From what I understand, from talking to some people who know this better than I do, the new guide will have more extensive coverage of Indigenous history,” said Andrew Griffith, former director general of citizenship and multiculturalism for the IRCC.

On Thursday, the Senate passed Bill C-8, which would revise the citizenship oath newcomers take to include mention of treaties with Indigenous peoples.

“While getting the oath changed is really important, it will really be important to see how the next version of the guide — which apparently is fairly advanced — captures these issues,” Griffith said.

Source: ‘It’s about time’ to update citizenship guide, Assembly of First Nations Alberta chief says

Why Canada so urgently needs to update its citizenship materials

Kind of surprising that Postmedia has largely ignored these criticisms to date (unless I missed them) and that little effort appears to have to engage more than one advocate and one academic. And why pick a pharmacology professor rather than one with citizenship and immigration expertise (e.g., Ravi Pendakur, Elke Winter, Audrey Macklin to name but a few).

But at least we have a glimpse of the revised guide themes: relationships, opportunity and commitment.

No public date yet set for release, and unclear whether it will be released before an expected election later this year:

More than a decade after its publication and at least four years after it was promised, an update is coming this year to the Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship study guide.

The current guide, created in 2009 and lightly updated in 2012, is provided to newcomers to learn about the nation’s history, culture and ethics in advance of the citizenship test they must pass to become Canadians. The study guide is, in essence, a distillation of how the government wants the nation to be seen and of the foundational touchpoints it wants immigrants to understand.

The guide has been criticized for its many misrepresentations about Canada, either by omission or part-truth, because it contains highly controversial statements that, critics say, have continued to whitewash the country’s historical treatment of First Nations and other minorities.

Source: Why Canada so urgently needs to update its citizenship materials

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

Home Office urged to correct false slavery information in citizenship test

Citizenship guides are tricky matters to navigate.

Despite promising a revised guide in 2016, the Canadian government has yet to release what I understand to be a largely complete revision to Discover Canada (which despite some flaws, is a vast improvement of the fluffy A Look at Canada):

More than 175 historians have called on the Home Office to remove the history element of the UK citizenship test because of its “misleading and false” representation of slavery and empire.

The signatories say the official handbook, which the Life in the UK test is based on, creates a distorted version of history, which directly counters the values of tolerance and fairness it purports to promote.

In an open letter, the signatories, including 13 fellows of the British Academy, two past presidents of the Royal Historical Society and the director of the Stephen Lawrence Research Centre, write: “The official handbook published by the Home Office is fundamentally misleading and in places demonstrably false … People in the colonies and people of colour in the UK are nowhere actors in this official history. The handbook promotes the misleading view that the empire came to an end simply because the British decided it was the right thing to do. Similarly, the abolition of slavery is treated as a British achievement, in which enslaved people themselves played no part. The book is equally silent about colonial protests, uprisings and independence movements.”

Source: Home Office urged to correct false slavery information in citizenship test

Petition calling for more representation of Indigenous people in citizenship guide headed to House of Commons

Pretty clear that there will be from public comments at both the political and official levels (see Pathways to Prosperity 2017: Building Bridges between Indigenous and Immigrant Communities):

….Indigenous people from B.C. say changes critical

For Wet’suwet’en and African-American youth Taleetha Tait, changes to the guide are critical.

“It allows our experiences to be acknowledged and not to be judged,” Tait said.

“I feel better about new people coming to Canada and learning the truth and not hiding the wrongs, so there is less ignorance,” she added.

Information about Indigenous people in the citizenship guide is placed in the “Canada’s History” and the “Who We Are” sections.

The first describes the hunting and gathering practices and traditional diets of Indigenous people. For example, it says “West Coast natives preserved fish by drying and smoking.” It also adds “warfare was common among Aboriginal groups as they competed for land, resources and prestige.”

The Indigenous section under “Who We Are”  starts with “the ancestors of Aboriginal peoples are believed to have migrated from Asia many thousands of years ago.” It uses the word “Indian” and “Aboriginal” to describe Indigenous people and says residential school ended in the 1980s.

Ry Moran, the director of the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation, says the guide is not giving newcomers the tools needed to participate in important conversations Canadians are currently having.

“It’s a very good example of a document that presents very poor information on Indigenous people and absolutely needs to be rewritten,” Moran said.

“It repeats the general narrative that there were Indigenous Peoples, there was a brief period of relationship and then goes into the predominant settler narrative. It doesn’t talk about the difficult relationship or serve newcomers well,” he added.

Changes a long time coming says new Canadian

There are two Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls to action pushing the federal government to revise the information kit for newcomers, the citizenship test and the oath to reflect an accurate portrayal of Indigenous people.

They call on the Government of Canada to change the Oath of Citizenship to observe treaties with Indigenous Peoples.

The guide currently says Aboriginal and treaty rights are in the Canadian Constitution, but there is nothing about treaties in the oath.

Kue K’nyawmupoe came to Canada as a Burmese refugee and is now a Canadian citizen. She says she is relieved the new citizenship guide and exam will be updated and wished she had learned more about Indigenous people when she first arrived.

“That is a very good change that has needed to happen for a very long time, and it would be very useful for Canadians  to recognize the first people of Canada, to be more inclusive,” K’nyawmupoe said.

Respecting Indigenous treaties is mandatory in draft rewrite of citizenship guide

Look forward to seeing the final version and doing a detailed comparison with previous study guides. Clear shift, as expected, from the current Discover Canada:

Respecting treaties with Indigenous Peoples, paying taxes and filling out the census are listed as mandatory obligations of Canadian citizenship in a draft version of a new study guide for the citizenship exam.

The working copy obtained by The Canadian Press suggests the federal government has completely overhauled the book used by prospective Canadians to prepare for the test.

The current “Discover Canada” guide dates back to 2011 when the previous Conservative government did its own overhaul designed to provide more information on Canadian values and history.

Some of the Conservatives’ insertions attracted controversy, including increased detail about the War of 1812 and a warning that certain “barbaric cultural practices,” such as honour killings and female genital mutilation, are crimes in Canada.

Getting rid of both those elements was what former Liberal Immigration Minister John McCallum had in mind when he said early in 2016 that the book was up for a rewrite. But although work has been underway for over a year, there’s no date set for publication of a final version.

In the draft version, the reference to barbaric cultural practices is gone, as is the inclusion of getting a job as one of the responsibilities of citizenship.

Instead, the proposed new guide breaks down the responsibilities of citizenship into two categories: voluntary and mandatory.

Voluntary responsibilities are listed as respecting the human rights of others, understanding official bilingualism and participating in the political process.

Obeying the law, serving on a jury, paying taxes, filling out the census and respecting treaties with Indigenous Peoples are mandatory.

“Today, Canadians, for example, can own their own homes and buy land thanks to treaties that the government negotiated,” the draft version says. “Every Canadian has responsibilities under those treaties as well. They are agreements of honour.”

The draft guide delves extensively into the history and present-day lives of Indigenous Peoples, including multiple references to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report on residential schools and a lengthy section on what happened at those schools. The current guide contains a single paragraph.

The draft also devotes substantive sections to sad chapters of Canadian history when the Chinese, South Asians, Jews and disabled Canadians were discriminated against, references that were absent or exceptionally limited previously.

The new version also documents the evolution of the rights of gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender groups, as well as other sexual minorities. Bureaucrats had sought to include similar themes in the 2011 book but were overruled by then-immigration minister Jason Kenney, with their efforts reduced to a single line on gay marriage.

There’s also an entirely new section called “Quality of Life in Canada” that delves into the education system — including a pitch for people to save money for their children’s schooling — the history of medicare, descriptions of family life, leisure time, effects of the environment on Canadian arts and culture and even a paragraph seeking to explain Canadian humour.

Canadians like to make fun of themselves, the book notes.

“Humour and satire about the experience of Indigenous, racialized, refugee and immigration peoples and their experiences is growing in popularity,” the section says.

The rewrite is part of a much broader renewal of citizenship laws and process that is underway. In June, legislation passed that changed the age for those who need to pass the knowledge test for citizenship, among other things.

Briefing notes obtained separately from the draft copy show nearly every government department is being consulted for input into the guide. But the team inside the Immigration Department didn’t just look there.

They were also taking cues from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, sharing copies of his remarks for themes to incorporate.

One of Trudeau’s often repeated mantras — “Canada has learned how to be strong not in spite of our differences, but because of them” — appears to be paraphrased directly in the opening section of the book: “Canadians have learned how to be strong because of our differences.”

The briefing notes say the guide is to be released to mark Canada’s 150th birthday but elsewhere note that production time is at least four months once a final version has been approved.

A spokesperson for the Immigration Department stressed the importance of the consultations that have gone into the new guide.

“While this may take more time, this broader approach will result in a final product that better reflects Canada’s diversity and Indigenous history, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission,” Lindsay Wemp said in an email.

Source: Respecting Indigenous treaties is mandatory in draft rewrite of citizenship guide – The Globe and Mail

New Canadians to pledge honour for Indigenous treaties in revised citizenship oath – Politics – CBC News

The first change to the oath since 1977:

New Canadians will soon promise to honour treaties with Indigenous peoples as part of their oath of citizenship.

The mandate letter for new Immigration Minister Ahmed Hussen lists making the change to the swearing-in ceremony as one of his key priorities, along with enhancing refugee resettlement services and cutting wait times for application processing.

According to the mandate letter, the proposed change is to reflect the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s calls to action.

That reads: “We call upon the government of Canada to replace the Oath of Citizenship with the following: 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.”The current oath does not include the words “including treaties with Indigenous peoples.”

The call for action was among 94 recommendations from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in December 2015.

Call to revise citizenship test

Another recommendation called on the federal government, in collaboration with national Indigenous organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and the citizenship test to “reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada.”

That would include information about the treaties and the history of residential schools, according to the document.

Lorna Standingready - RTR4YPUL3

Residential school survivor Lorna Standingready, left, is comforted during the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada closing ceremony at Rideau Hall in Ottawa. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

This past December, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the creation of an independent national council to help implement the recommendations.

Source: New Canadians to pledge honour for Indigenous treaties in revised citizenship oath – Politics – CBC News

The specific commitments of Minister Hussen’s mandate letter are (the emphasis on measuring outcomes for settlement services and “rigorous approach to data” is also of note):

In particular, I will expect you to work with your colleagues and through established legislative, regulatory and Cabinet processes to deliver on your top priorities:

  • Ensure the effective implementation of Canada’s increased annual immigration levels.

  • Working with the provinces and territories, ensure a renewed focus on the delivery of high-quality settlement services to ensure the successful arrival of new Canadians.  This will require a rigorous approach to data in order to accurately measure outcomes.

  • Following our government-wide efforts to resettle more than 39,000 Syrian refugees as of January 2017, continue to welcome refugees from Syria and elsewhere, and work with provinces and territories, service provider organizations, and communities to ensure refugees are integrating successfully into Canada to become participating members of society.

  • Work on reducing application processing times, on improving the department’s service delivery and client services to make it timelier and less complicated, and on enhancing system efficiency including the asylum system.

  • Continue to work with the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness towards the adoption of Bill C-6 which would repeal provisions in the Citizenship Act that give the government the right to strip citizenship from dual nationals.

  • Conduct a review of the visa policy framework, including its application to the transit of passengers through Canada, in a way that promotes economic growth while ensuring program integrity.

  • Work in collaboration with the Minister of Indigenous and Northern Affairs to make changes to the Oath of Canadian Citizenship to reflect the Truth and Reconciliation’s Calls to Action.

  • Work with the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour to improve the temporary foreign worker program so it meets the needs of Canadian workers and employers.  This would include:

    • further developing a pathway to permanent residency so that eligible applicants are able to more fully contribute to Canadian society; and

    • working with stakeholders to act on the recommendations of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Human Resources, Skills and Social Development and the Status of Persons with Disabilities’ study of the temporary foreign worker program.

These priorities draw heavily from our election platform commitments.