Challenging Canadian Citizenship and Identity: Re-Imagining a New Narrative of Belonging

Statues of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II torn down in Canada” (BBC, July 2, 2021)

Done with Dundas: Toronto to remove racist figure’s name from streets, infrastructure” (Global News, July 15, 2021)

Reports of Anti-Asian hate crimes are surging in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic,” (CTV News, March 20, 2021)

The news stories above illustrate some significant contemporary issues in Canada today, which can be linked together as challenges to traditional conceptions of Canadian identity and citizenship, whose roots are historical and linked to Citizenship Education. Canadian national identity and citizenship has always been subject to contention and confusion since Canada was first stitched together as a collection of European colonies on lands that were, and continue to be, home to rich Indigenous cultures across diverse terrains.

Dr. Catherine Broom, associate professor, is embarking on a five-year SSHRC funded research project that invites Canadians across Canada to share their views of Canadian citizenship and identity and Citizenship Education.

The study will pay special attention to inviting Canadians who have been marginalized, excluded or harmed through or in previous Citizenship Education programs that were narrow, exclusionary, and focused on indoctrinating children to be national citizens. Participants from diverse backgrounds across Canada will fill out an online survey exploring how they understand Canadian citizenship and identity, their views, experiences and hopes for Citizenship Education and their beliefs about what kind of society they would like Canada to aim towards.

The findings will serve as a starting point for theorizing a conception of the meaning of citizenship and identity in Canada that addresses issues with previous historical narratives and Citizenship Education programs that were narrow and exclusionary. The research and theorizing of a new conception of citizenship and identity will serve as the basis of the development of a new Citizenship Education program in schools for which resources, materials, and workshops will be made available to teachers across the country.

Learn more