Citizenship Guide Pix

The new Ctizenship Study Guide: I talked about contents in a previous blog. (“Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, “honour killings,” female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence. Those guilty of these crimes are severely punished under Canada’s criminal laws.” Yes!)

The pictures are worth a note too. They’re iconic. Here’s one of John Buchan, old stoneface himself. The caption reads primly: “the 15th Governor General is shown here in Blood (Kainai First Nation) headdress.” It’s a fabulous crown of feathers, supremely majestic even in a black and white snap. Speaking at the Canadian Club of Halifax, 1937, Buchan said – I’m reading again from the caption – that immigrant groups “should retain their individuality and each make its contribution to the national character.” Each could learn “from the other, and …while they cherish their own special loyalties and traditions, they cherish not less that new loyalty and tradition which springs from their union.”

Here’s Olympian Marjorie Turner-Bailey of Nova Scotia, “a descendant of black Loyalists, escaped slaves and freed men and women of African origin who in the 1780s fled to Canada from America, where slavery remained legal until 1865.” Note the modest suggestion that in matters of freedom Canada is superior to the U.S. I don’t mind that kind of boast!

And Mark Tewksbury, “Olympic gold medalist and prominent activist for gay and lesbian Canadians.” The man’s won his race; he’s jubiliant.

Happiness and success: it’s a major theme. Sunny skies, happy days, endeavour, accomplishment. On page 27, aspiring Canadians are asked: “How will you make your contribution?” We have responsibilities as well as rights. We’re “free, law-abiding, prosperous.” We win our wars. The illustration accompanying the D-Day landing is taken from a painting by O.N. Fisher (1950). It’s as full of movement as a film clip. The Guide’s design and colours make a strong, confident statement: deep red, deep blue, pale gold.

Military history’s covered at some length.. The section on government is well done. It could go in a political science course pack. Our identity as the Queen’s Canadian subjects is not ignored.

Perhaps my favourite picture is the one on the cover. It shows a middle-aged couple, only slightly overweight, in a brilliantly yellow fiberglass canoe, paddling in tandem on the Rideau Canal. They’re sitting high on the thwarts, Mrs. Canadian in the bow. I know where they are. If they pull over and tie up they’ll be able to walk to the Parliament buildings in minutes. The sun’s shining, the sky’s cloudless. They’re supremely happy; they are where they want to be, on the water, in summer, and, of course, they’re wearing their lifejackets.

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1 Response to “Citizenship Guide Pix”


  1. 1 oonae February 24, 2010 at 10:32 pm

    Found this very moving. I miss Canada! Where can I get a copy?


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