Introducing the New & Improved Citizens Guide!

The Canadian government recently updated their guide for new Canadian citizens: Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. Apparently, the last release had a few omissions. In the current version, there’s more information on Canada’s history, and a greater discussion on our nebulous “Canadian values”.

As an former immigrant myself (my family came over from England in the 1970s), I appreciate the handy new information in this guide. Apparently, it’s important to have a job, and the guide even makes a suggestion for this. It says joining the army is: “a noble way to contribute to Canada and an excellent career choice.” I guess I should quit my career as a tech writer and sign up. Or perhaps I could be a covert Military Tech Writer. I can picture me stationed in Baghdad, with the sergeant barking out the order: “Dammit, Brooke. I need that quick start guide and I need it now!”

The guide also lets new citizens know that “barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, honour killings, female genital mutilation or other gender-based violence” are forbidden. I’m sure that information will come in handy. Picture this discussion:

Crazy father: I’m sorry, daughter. I saw you with that boy whom I’m forbid you to be with. I’m afraid you must be sacrificed for the family honour.

Innocent Daughter: Sorry – you can’t. It’s specifically forbidden on page 32 of The Guide.

Crazy father: Oops! You’re right. I must have missed that section. Was it in the TOC?

Let’s analyze the potential users of this guide. The vast majority of immigrants who come here do so precisely because they want to escape the horrors of their former countries and live in a peaceful, secular, democratic state. They know these types of acts are illegal here. The tiny minority that think they can commit these crimes are not going to be swayed by a manual.

It takes much more than a guide to make someone a successful citizen. As with all documentation, guides may help, but, in the end, the user must choose to learn.