This week Ahmed Hussen, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, introduced Bill C-99, An Act to amend the Citizenship Act, to change Canada’s Oath of Citizenship to include clear reference to the rights of Indigenous peoples.
Hussen said the proposed amendment to the Oath reflects the Government of Canada’s commitment to reconciliation, and a renewed relationship with Indigenous peoples based on recognition of rights, respect, cooperation and partnership. It also demonstrates the Government’s commitment to responding to the Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.
The new proposed language adds references to Canada’s Constitution and the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples:
“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen”.
Taking the Oath of Citizenship is the last step before receiving Canadian citizenship. The Oath of Citizenship is a solemn promise to follow the laws of Canada and to perform the new citizen’s duties as a Canadian citizen. It is a public declaration that the new citizen is joining the Canadian family and that the new citizen is committed to Canadian values and traditions.
Hussen said: “The change to the Oath is an important step on our path to reconciliation with Indigenous peoples in Canada. It will encourage new Canadians to learn about Indigenous peoples and their history, which will help them to fully appreciate and respect the significant role of Indigenous peoples in forming Canada’s fabric and identity.”
Seamus O’Regan, Minister of Indigenous Services, added: “Reconciliation with First Nations, the Inuit and the Métis is not only an Indigenous issue; it’s a Canadian issue. It will take partners at all levels to move reconciliation forward. Today, we are advancing that partnership by proposing that all Canadians make a solemn promise to respect Indigenous rights when they recite the Oath of Citizenship.”
Senator Murray Sinclair said: “I welcome the Government’s new legislation to change the Oath of Citizenship to better reflect a more inclusive history of Canada, as recommended by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in its final report. To understand what it means to be Canadian, it is important to know about the three founding peoples—the Indigenous people, the French and the British. Reconciliation requires that a new vision, based on a commitment to mutual respect, be developed. Part of that vision is encouraging all Canadians, including newcomers, to understand the history of First Nations, the Métis and the Inuit, including information about the treaties and the history of the residential schools, so that we all honour the truth and work together to build a more inclusive Canada.” -CINEWS