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The citizenship education system in Canada from 1945-2005 : an overview and assessment



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There has been a significant interest amongst immigrants in obtaining Canadian citizenship, dating all the way back to the end of World War Two in 1945. This thesis is particularly interested in what knowledge and skills these immigrants obtain as a result of their experiences in the citizenship education programs provided by the federal government prior to them becoming official citizens of Canada.This thesis has a number of objectives. First, it intends to track the evolution of citizenship policy in Canada from 1945 to the present time, with a particular focus on the changes made to the citizenship education system. Secondly, an assessment of the adequacy of the changes made to the citizenship education system will be conducted, focusing primarily on whether or not those changes have provided newcomers to Canada with the knowledge and skills necessary to be active and informed citizens. Finally, suggestions will be offered as to how citizenship education programs can best provide new Canadians with a more well-rounded quality of citizenship. The evolution of citizenship policy and the assessment of the changes made to citizenship education from 1945 to the present time reveal a number of findings, with many of them pointing to citizenship education policy and programming in Canada as being inadequate. The findings identify a lack of political leadership and financial resources provided for citizenship training initiatives, as well as a painfully basic citizenship education curriculum provided for newcomers to Canada. The central contention of this thesis is that the federal government regards citizenship education as little more than a short-term goal. In other words, the priority is to speed up the processing of newcomers rather than to develop good citizens. Immigrants are provided with basic knowledge and language skills, but are largely left to fend for themselves once official citizenship has been attained. This short-term focus has resulted in a diminution of the quality and importance of Canadian citizenship and has impaired the ability of new citizens to feel comfortable participating in Canadian society. The significance of these findings is that policy makers need to develop a long-term citizenship education strategy that focuses on providing long-term benefits to new citizens to Canada. Such a strategy will help to maximize the potential contributions of the growing immigrant population to Canadian society and will provide much needed clarity of roles and responsibilities to citizenship education service providers and instructors.



cultural education techniques, citizenship education, citizenship policy, citizenship programs, citizenship branch, citizenship legislation, language instruction for newcomers to canada



Master of Arts (M.A.)


Political Studies


Political Studies


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