Opinion: Canadian citizenship study guide should tell the truth about racism

October 18, 2020

By Vancouver Sun |

At this crucial time of confronting systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, the Canadian government must take responsibility for its enduring role in propagating racism. This includes through its misleading self-portrayal in Discover Canada, the official study guide for the test taken by Canadian citizenship applicants.

Issued in 2011, the guide aims to teach prospective citizens about Canada’s history, geography, culture, and political and justice systems. Disgracefully, the document whitewashes colonialism, conceals genocide, minimizes systemic racism and its inhumane consequences, and portrays these as remnants of the past even as the guide itself engages in racist discourse.

We write as women faculty members at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Our perspective on these issues is borne of our shared concerns yet differing relationships to “Canadian” nationality. One of us is Algonquin (Timiskaming First Nation), another is a woman of African ancestry, born in Canada, surviving transatlantic enslavement, two are new-ish Canadians (white European heritage, from the United States and South Africa), another is a permanent resident from the U.S.

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