Foreigners claim to know more about the history of Canada than Canadians

by Ray Clancy on January 19, 2012

Citizenship guide for newcomers seen to have a strong emphasis on Canada's history

Foreigners in Canada may know more about the country’s history than native Canadians, a new survey suggests.

The poll commissioned by the Association for Canadian Studies (ACS) shows that immigrants to Canada claim a stronger knowledge of the country’s history than those who were born there.

Over 2,300 people across Canada were questioned and 82% who were born outside of Canada claimed to have very strong or somewhat strong knowledge of Canadian history compared while only 70% of those who were born in Canada.

Some 27% of immigrants described their knowledge as very strong, almost double that of Canadian citizens of whom 16% said their knowledge of Canadian history was very strong.

One reason could be that foreign workers are required to familiarise and integrate themselves into the community as part of the process of gaining citizenship.

Also the department of Citizenship and Immigration updated the 63 page Discover Canada citizenship guide last year as part of an effort to underline the need for newcomers to learn about Canada’s past.

Jack Jedwab, ACS executive director said that immigrants may be more attuned to the story of Canada’s growth and evolution because of their direct connection to the country’s multicultural identity.

He also suggested that the longer people have lived in the country, the less confident they may be about their knowledge of Canada’s past.

‘The citizenship guide with a strong emphasis on Canada’s history, probably offered and continues to offer a bit of a crash course for immigrants who arrive on Canada’s history,’ added Jedwab.

According to Ratna Ghosh of McGill University in Montreal, Canada is a country of immigrants and is known as the first country in the world to have a policy on multiculturalism.

‘While French and British settlers conquered the landscape from the native populations, many other groups of people also helped build the country. Presently, Canada’s 33 million people reflect a vast diversity of cultural, linguistic, and religious backgrounds, skin colours and physical features all of which ultimately impact the socioeconomic levels and life chances of people,’ she explained.

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Jane July 27, 2013 at 11:24 am

What a load of crap! If you are a first settler family like mine who came in 1630- you can trace your french roots back many generations to the building of the first hospitals, the start of the fur trade etc. What most immigrant know is what they have to study to pass the citizenship testing which is very little about canadian history. I would think my brother would know the most since he is a canadian history prof and has written 3 books on canadian history. If anythings its the other way around. Canadians here for generations know very little about any other foreign country other than this country, since this is the only one they have lived in. Not everyone travels, some never leave their birth cities!

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