In 2009, Stephen Harper’s Conservative government changed the contents of the official citizenship guide that is given to all recent immigrants. The new version contained a lot more military history and plenty of information about the monarchy, but little about public programs such as medicare or education, or our rich history of social justice movements. Ignoring the work and democratic struggles of generations of newcomers, it presumes that new immigrants need to be taught how to “take responsibility” for their families. In short, the official guide outlines an exceptionally narrow, conservative view of Canadian politics and society. In People’s Citizenship Guide, a group of progressive scholars offer an alternative citizenship guide: a lively, political, humane—and more honest—alternative to Stephen Harper’s version of the story.

Royalties from the sale of this book will be donated to the Canadian Council for Refugees.

A catalogue of mouldy leftist myths.

Candice Malcolm, Jason Kenney’s press secretary

The People’s Citizenship Guide is the work of a team of contributors from across the country, handsomely produced and effectively illustrated. In appealing for an informed, engaged and critical citizenship, this guide also finds room to discuss the place of cultural activism as a source of alternative identities pointing to the significant role of writers, artists, and performers in telling the Canadian story.

David Frank, Our Times

Subject Democracy/Civics & Citizenship/Canadian History
Published November 2011
Price $14.95 CDN
Pages 80 pp (Paper)
Dimensions 7″ × 10″ × .5″
ISBN-10 1894037561
ISBN-13 9781894037563

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Reviews

  • Elise Chenier, in BC Studies writes:

    The People’s Citizenship Guide offers an interesting and engaging counterpoint to the current re-branding of Canada’s once peaceful, rights-championing image (although we quarreled with that, too). Penned by historians Esyllt Jones and Adele Perry, the Guide is a testament to the discipline’s deeply political nature, especially where it concerns our understanding and interpretation of nation and state.

  • Terry Wolfwood, in Victoria Central America Support Committee writes:

    …an excellent and highly readable overview of Canada; at the same time it is a clear and welcoming invitation for new immigrants and settled citizens to be active and engaged in creating a better and equitable society for all.

  • Tom Peace, in ActiveHistory.ca writes:

    This book is a welcome political intervention. From its title through to its back cover, The People’s Citizenship Guide’s politics are open and easily discerned. Such overt and provocative language, which on the first page labels the vision of Canada presented in Discover Canada as “nationalistic, militaristic and racist,” may turn people off the book before they can digest its important content. That being said, the explicit nature of the book’s politics provides excellent contrast to the political perspectives that are often left implicit in Discover Canada. In publishing The People’s Citizenship Guide, Jones and Perry should be lauded for calling explicit attention to the politics of citizenship.

About the Editors

Esyllt Jones studies the history of health, disease, and social movements, and is an Associate Professor of History at the University of Manitoba. Author of Influenza 1918: Disease, Death and Struggle in Winnipeg (UTP, 2007), she is also a member of the ARP editorial collective.

Adele Perry is Associate Professor and Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in the Department of History, University of Manitoba. She is the author of On the Edge of Empire (2001), a co-editor of Rethinking Canada: The Promise of Women’s History, and is working on a book length study of an elite Creole/Metis family and circuits of migration and rule in the nineteenth-century British empire.

Contributors

David Churchill is Associate Professor of U.S. history at the University of Manitoba and is the Director of the University of Manitoba Institute for the Humanities. He writes and researches the history of radical social movements and queer history. He is the coordinator of the Institute’s LGBTTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgendered, Two-Spirited & Queer) Oral History Initiative, documenting the lives of activists in Winnipeg.

Dominique Clément is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Alberta. He is the author of Canada’s Rights Revolution: Social Movements and Social Change, 1937-1982. He is also the editor for Debating Dissent: Canada and the Sixties and Alberta’s Human Rights Story: The Search for Equality and Justice. He manages www.HistoryOfRights.com on the history of the human rights movement in Canada.

Karen Dubinsky teaches in the departments of Global Development Studies and History at Queen’s University, and writes about global child politics. Her most recent book is Babies Without Borders: Adoption and Migration Across the Americas. In 1991, she took, and failed, the 1955 Canadian Citizenship test, which she discovered while sorting through her recently deceased immigrant grandmother’s belongings.

Ian Hudson is an Associate Professor of economics at the University of Manitoba researching in political economy. His most recent book (with Robert Chernomas) is The Gatekeeper: 60 Years of Economics According to the New York Times. He also writes on Canadian economic issues as a research associate for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Mary-Ellen Kelm teaches History at Simon Fraser University where she is the Canada Research Chair in Indigenous histories, medicine and society. Her most recent book is A Wilder West: A History of Rodeo in Western Canada. She is currently involved in a project to preserve the history of Alternative Vancouver, organizations and individuals who envisioned alternative living environments and education in Vancouver in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s.

Mark Leier teaches history at Simon Fraser University. His most recent book is Bakunin: The Creative Passion.

Steven Maynard teaches Canadian history at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He’s been active in and writing about sexual politics for over twenty years. Steven lives in Toronto.

Sean Mills is the author of The Empire Within: Postcolonial Thought and Political Activism in Sixties Montreal. He teaches history at the University of Toronto. A historian of Quebec and Canada post-1945, his research interests include postcolonial thought, migration, race, nationalism, gender, and the history of empire and oppositional movements.

Debra Parkes is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law, University of Manitoba. Her research addresses the possibilities and challenges of pursuing social justice through litigation and other rights-based strategies. She is the English Language Editor of the Canadian Journal of Women and the Law.