Canadian News Oct 23, 2020 4:18 PM EST

Canada rewriting Oath of Citizenship to recognize Indigenous peoples

Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the change will make the Oath of Citizenship "more inclusive" and serves as “one more vital step toward reconciliation.”

Canada rewriting Oath of Citizenship to recognize Indigenous peoples
Noah David Alter Toronto
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Parliament is considering a bill to alter the Oath of Citizenship to include references to Indigenous people.

According to Newswire, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino said the change will make the Oath of Citizenship "more inclusive" and serves as “one more vital step toward reconciliation.”

Mendicino also said that the change "demonstrates the Government's commitment to the findings of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission." The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has accused Canada of committing genocide.

The newly proposed to the Oath of Citizenship reads "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."

The rewriting is actually different from the recommendation of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission report, which proposed "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 fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen."

This is not the first time that the Oath of Citizenship has been subject to changes. In 1997, Parliament proposed replacing allegiance to the Queen with allegiance to Canada, a move which was heavily opposed by monarchists. A year later, in 1998, Parliament proposed another change to the Oath of Citizenship to recognize the "rights and freedoms" and "democratic values" of the country, but the proposed changes also failed to materialize.

In the past, the Oath of Citizenship required those taking it to say "so help me God," but the line was removed in 1964 due to complaints from atheists.

The proposal to add a reference to Indigenous people in the Oath of Citizenship was originally introduced to Parliament in 2019, but the motion was put on hold due to the 2019 election. It was proposed again in February but was once again put on hold due to the prorogation of Parliament in August.

If the bill is passed, it would mark the first official change to the Oath of Citizenship since 1977.

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