We call upon the federal government, in collaboration with the national Aboriginal organizations, to revise the information kit for newcomers to Canada and its citizenship test to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Aboriginal peoples of Canada, including of information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools

Indigenous Watchdog Status Update

Current StatusAug. 17, 2020STALLED
Previous StatusJune 15, 2020STALLED

Why “STALLED”?

After almost two and a half years, the federal government is still struggling to announce the completion of the revised Citizenship Guide. The federal government announced on July 24, 2017 that they had developed a “draft” version of a new study guide for the citizenship exam integrating indigenous content based on discussions with the Assembly of First Nations, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council, as well as Indigenous historians. 

Evolution of Citizenship Guide Indigenous content

July 24, 2017 – a draft version of a new study guide for the citizenship exam breaks down the responsibilities of citizenship into two categories: voluntary and mandatory. Respecting treaties with Indigenous Peoples is one of the mandatory responsibilities. 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.

May 19, 2019 – (CBC) Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada said the revamp is focused on several key areas, including:

  • Responding to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call for language that better reflects the perspectives and history of Indigenous peoples of Canada.

Canadian Council for Refugees Comments

Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees, said it’s “incomprehensible” that the guide is taking this long to roll out. “Our major concern is that newcomers be presented with a fair and balanced picture of Canada that acknowledges the problems in Canadian and current reality, and how that affects Indigenous people and racialized people. When we fail to provide an accurate picture of our country, it’s a disservice to the country as a whole as well as to the newcomers,” she said.

Official Federal Government Response: Sept. 5, 2019

Since early 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has worked closely with the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Métis National Council, as well as Indigenous historians, to update the text and photos of the citizenship guide. On October 5, 2017, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada hosted a roundtable discussion with AFN representatives and First Nations experts to come to an agreement on key topics that will be included in the revised citizenship guide. A revised version of the citizenship study guide with more information on Indigenous peoples and residential schools is currently being developed. Following the launch of the revised citizenship guide, a new citizenship test will be created that will encompass revisions made to the citizenship guide, including new questions related to First Nations, Inuit and Métis history and perspectives.

The information kit for newcomers will be revised in accordance with the updates made to the citizenship guide and test, following the launch of the revised citizenship guide.