New citizenship study guide to help newcomers and Canadians better understand Canada

A new, more comprehensive study guide for Canadian citizenship was launched today by Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney.

Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship includes information on common values such as freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and the equality of men and women. It promotes to immigrants and Canadian citizens alike a greater understanding of Canada’s history, values, symbols and important Canadian institutions, such as Parliament and the Crown. It also highlights the contribution of ethnic and cultural communities in shaping our Canadian identity and the sacrifices made by Canada’s veterans for our country.

People come from all over the world to seek Canadian citizenship. It is highly valued,” said Minister Kenney. “We expect people who want to become Canadians to have a good understanding of their rights and responsibilities, and the values and institutions that are rooted in Canada’s history. By strengthening the guide, we are increasing the value of Canadian citizenship.

In developing the study guide, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) consulted with a panel of prominent Canadians, including public figures, authors and historians. The new guide has also been reviewed by well–known organizations involved in citizenship promotion, such as the Historica–Dominion Institute, the Association of Francophone and Acadian Communities and the Institute for Canadian Citizenship.

Discover Canada should be in the hands of not only new Canadians, but every high school student in Canada,” said Marc Chalifoux, Executive Vice-President of the Historica-Dominion Institute. “All citizens, whether they were born in Canada or not, need to understand how the institutions of this country came to be. This guide tells them how.

These are the first substantive changes to the study guide since it was created in 1995.

It is not easy to capture Canada—its geography, its people, its society and its history—in a brief document, but this one does a fine job,” said Canadian historian Margaret MacMillan of Oxford University, author of the bestselling Paris 1919.

“At last, Canada has a guide for prospective citizens that is not an embarrassment,” said historian Jack Granatstein, author of Who Killed Canadian History?

Rudyard Griffiths, co-founder of the Dominion Institute and author of Who We Are: A Citizen’s Manifesto, said: “Finally we have a citizenship guide that provides newcomers with a comprehensive overview of the people, places, symbols and values that define our collective way of life. Two thumbs up!

One of the requirements of citizenship is to demonstrate an adequate knowledge of Canada, and the rights and responsibilities of citizenship.

Xavier Gélinas, a Quebec historian and curator at the Canadian Museum of Civilization, noted that the guide, in both text and powerful images, includes a focus on the bilingual and bicultural nature of Canada. “One example is the inset photograph of the Speaker’s chair in the Quebec National Assembly, featured on the cover. As a historian, I have rarely seen such a frank recognition of Quebec’s reality and distinctiveness in a document published by the Canadian government. It demonstrates federalism in words, deeds and images.”

Discover Canada introduces would–be Canadians to a nation of distinctive history, geography, character and traditions,” said Professor Randy Boyagoda, novelist and contributor to The Walrus magazine. “This guide cogently describes many of Canada’s strengths, not least of which are the rights and responsibilities of its citizens.

The new guide is a very positive step forward in providing more historical context than we’ve seen in previous editions, and presenting it in a way that helps readers to understand its relevance in shaping the way we are today,” said Deborah Morrison, President and CEO of Canada’s National Historic Society. “I hope you will encourage even greater distribution of the guide as I think it will be beneficial to all Canadians, the old and the new!

Citizenship applicants who are scheduled for a test or an interview before the end of February 2010 should read the old study guide, A Look at Canada, which will continue to be available on the CIC website. Those who take the test, or who have an interview in March 2010 or later, should study Discover Canada.

Cover of Discover CanadaDiscover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship can be downloaded or ordered from the CIC website.

Citizenship applicants can contact the CIC Call Centre if they have any questions.

 

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