MARCO E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, on Monday announced that as of now, Canada’s Oath of Citizenship officially recognizes First Nations, Inuit and Métis, and the obligation that all citizens have to uphold the treaties between the Crown and Indigenous nations. Bill C-8 has received royal assent and is now law.
The new Oath of Citizenship recognizes that Indigenous rights are both enshrined in section 35 of the Constitution Act, 1982, and that they derive from the historic use of this land by Indigenous peoples. As new Canadians recite the Oath, they will make a personal commitment to observe the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
Mendicino said that reconciliation is a national project that involves all Canadians, including the newest citizens. Over the past few years, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada has been working to implement several of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) Calls to Action and educate newcomers about their unique role in reconciliation.
On June 14, the government announced that Indigenous people can now reclaim their traditional names on passports and other documents, fulfilling Call to Action 17. In response to Call to Action 93, the government has been working hard at updating Canada’s Citizenship Guide to ensure new citizens understand the role of Indigenous peoples in the country’s past, present and future. The new guide will be published later this year.
Mendicino said: “Canada’s Oath of Citizenship is a commitment to this country—and that includes the national project of reconciliation. This new Oath now includes Indigenous, Inuit and Métis rights, and will help new Canadians better understand the role of Indigenous peoples, the ongoing impact of colonialism and residential schools and our collective obligation to uphold the treaties. This is an important step on our shared journey of reconciliation.”
Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Crown-Indigenous Relations, said: “The new language in Canada’s Oath of Citizenship is a concrete step forward on rebuilding relationships with Indigenous peoples as it responds to Call to Action 94 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. It is so important that new Canadians understand the rights and significant contributions of First Nations, Inuit, and Métis. We recognize that there is still much more work to do on our path of reconciliation and we will continue this critical work in partnership with Indigenous peoples.”
- The new language adds references to 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.”
- The TRC’s Final Report states: “Precisely because ‘we are all Treaty People’, Canada’s Oath of Citizenship must include a solemn promise to respect Aboriginal and Treaty rights.”
- The TRC’s Calls to Action call upon all levels of government, educational and religious institutions, civil society groups and all Canadians to work together to address the lasting impact of residential schools and foster reconciliation between Indigenous and non-Indigenous people.
- 76 of the TRC Report’s 94 Calls to Action fall under the sole or shared responsibility of the Government of Canada. At this time, working together with provincial/territorial governments and other key partners, 80% of these are completed or well under way