New oath to in­clude ref­er­ence to Indige­nous treaties

Oath to in­clude ref­er­ence to treaties with Indige­nous Peo­ples

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE -

OT­TAWA A re­vised oath of ci­ti­zen­ship that will re­quire new Cana­di­ans to faith­fully ob­serve the coun­try’s treaties with Indige­nous Peo­ples is nearly com­plete.

The pro­posed new text was put to fo­cus groups held by Im­mi­gra­tion, Refugees and Ci­ti­zen­ship Canada in March, fol­low­ing months of con­sul­ta­tion by de­part­men­tal of­fi­cials.

It reads: “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 lan­guage comes from the 94th and fi­nal rec­om­men­da­tion of the Truth and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Com­mis­sion, which ex­am­ined the legacy of Canada’s res­i­den­tial schools.

Im­ple­ment­ing that rec­om­men­da­tion was one of the tasks given to Im­mi­gra­tion Min­is­ter Ahmed Hussen when he was sworn into his port­fo­lio in Jan­uary 2017, but work on it be­gan soon af­ter the com­mis­sion de­liv­ered its rec­om­men­da­tions in late 2015, brief­ing notes for the min­is­ter sug­gest.

The notes, ob­tained by The Cana­dian Press un­der the Ac­cess to In­for­ma­tion Act, show the govern­ment also wants to mod­ify the script de­liv­ered by those who pre­side over ci­ti­zen­ship cer­e­monies. The pro­posed notes say the script should re­fer to cer­e­monies tak­ing place on tra­di­tional ter­ri­to­ries, and in­clude re­marks on the his­tory of Indige­nous Peo­ples.

When it comes to the oath, the in­clu­sion of a ref­er­ence to treaties is the only pro­posed change.

Chang­ing the word­ing re­quires a leg­isla­tive amend­ment to the Ci­ti­zen­ship Act. The Lib­er­als are cur­rently in the process of over­haul­ing the act in a bid to make ci­ti­zen­ship eas­ier to ob­tain.

When the pro­posed text was put to fo­cus groups com­posed of both re­cent im­mi­grants and long­time Cana­dian res­i­dents, re­ac­tion was gen­er­ally pos­i­tive, ac­cord­ing to a re­port posted on­line by the Im­mi­gra­tion de­part­ment this week.

But there was a caveat: “Par­tic­i­pants only agreed with the mod­i­fi­ca­tions in­so­far as new­com­ers are ad­e­quately ed­u­cated about Indige­nous Peo­ples and the treaties,” the re­port said.

“Many felt that they them­selves would strug­gle with this new for­mu­la­tion, given their own lim­ited knowl­edge of the treaties.”

Some won­dered about the need for changes at all.

“A few par­tic­i­pants took it upon them­selves to ques­tion the need to mod­ify the oath and that it might rep­re­sent a prece­dent whereby other groups in Canada will want to be rep­re­sented in the oath,” the re­port said.

The new oath comes along with a ma­jor over­haul of the study guide used for the ci­ti­zen­ship exam. A draft copy ob­tained by The Cana­dian Press ear­lier this year re­vealed it, too, will in­clude ex­ten­sive ref­er­ences to Indige­nous his­tory and cul­ture.

The Lib­er­als had orig­i­nally been aim­ing to un­veil both the new guide and oath around Canada Day, but work is on­go­ing.


Min­is­ter of Im­mi­gra­tion, Refugees and Ci­ti­zen­ship Ahmed Hussen dur­ing ques­tion pe­riod Tues­day in the House of Com­mons.

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