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Whitewashing 'New Citizens' of Canada

'Discover Canada' citizenship study guide filled with omissions, balderdash

by Miles Howe

Yazan Khader, a 'New Canadian' citizen originally from Palestine, holds a copy of 'Discover Canada', the study guide from which the department of Citizenship and Immigration will determine if you 'know' what it is to be Canadian. [Photo: Miles Howe]
Yazan Khader, a 'New Canadian' citizen originally from Palestine, holds a copy of 'Discover Canada', the study guide from which the department of Citizenship and Immigration will determine if you 'know' what it is to be Canadian. [Photo: Miles Howe]

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) -- The Discover Canada study guide is a sixty six page guide prepared by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. From the information contained in these pages, prospective 'New Citizens' to Canada will be tested. The implicit understanding is, if they know this book, then they know what it is to be Canadian.

But how does this book negotiate the violence and genocide that founded this settler state and continues in more sublime and nefarious forms to this day?

It doesn't. Page fourteen, one of only three pages in the book that mentions Aboriginal people in passing, reads:

"The arrival of European traders, missionairies, 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, religious and military bonds in the first 200 years of coexistence which laid the foundations of Canada."

Is this true? And what is being omitted? If we are a country that aims to continue to rely on immigration as our main population driver, how is the 'Discover Canada' study guide shaping 'New Citizens' understanding of this country?

What are we telling 'New Citizens' is important, and what is to be ignored? How does this whitewashing of history help anyone? And why did the 'Discover Canada' guide get ignored as an educational tool in need of a serious look in the recent TRC recommendations?

As someone who never had to take a citizen test, but was provided with a substandard high school education in Canadian history that glossed over 'Our Native' people, I figured it best to talk to a 'New Citizen' to Canada to get another opinion.

Here then is an interview with Yazan Khader, on the journey towards becoming a 'New Citizen' of Canada, and what gets overlooked along the way.

Due to the shoe string budget of our website, you'll only be able to play the attached audio on a laptop or home computer. You can download it off your phone or tablet, but can't stream it. Sorry!

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