Jones, Esyllt and Adele Perry. PEOPLE´S CITIZENSHIP GUIDE: A response to conservative Canada. 2012. Arbeiter Ring Publishing. Winnipeg, MN, Canada.

“Canada has a capitalist economy which means that the bulk of decisions are made by private, for–profit firms hiring wage labour…The Canadian economy is an unequal one… Since the 1980s Canada has become more liberal and less equal. Its tax system is less progressive.”

Intended for recent immigrants as a response to the official citizenship guide which lauds Canada´s military history and the monarchy, this book is a little gem which should be read by all Canadians. A group of Canadian academics, activists and writers have produced a concise and clear history of Canada – a history we don´t learn in school, from textbooks or government documents. The images from our past to recent times are an important part of our story.

Articles cover many of the shameful and racist policies and actions by government including our systemic abuse of aboriginal peoples and the betrayal of the Metis. The authors also cover our racism against Asian peoples, brought here to perform hard and dirty labour of railroad construction, mines and the lumber industry. And when we did not want them we sent them back as in the notorious incident of the Komagata Maru in 1914 and the internment and property theft inflicted upon Japanese–Canadians during WW2.

The records of social movements – women, labour and peace activists are well documented in this book right up to the G20 demonstrations and police violence in Toronto in 2011. These are important parts of our history and it is inspiring to read about decades of struggle by dedicated citizens for universal human and civil rights, universal healthcare and many other social and legal rights which are now under attack by our conservative government which is bloating our military budget as it cuts vital services.

The authors explain our provincial and territorial histories, economies and government structures in a straight forward way and they have even provided a section on truly Canadian symbols like poutine and Inuksuk.

For this reviewer the People´s Citizenship Guide is an excellent and highly readable overview of Canada; at the same time it is a clear and welcoming invitation for new immigrants and settled citizens to be active and engaged in creating a better and equitable society for all.

Filed under Adele Perry, Book Reviews, Esyllt Jones