Outrageously, Discover Canada is still the welcome guide for new Canadians. Just a few of its shameful elements include:
1) It presents a sanitized account of Indigenous Peoples, before and under colonization. This erases the history and legacy of stolen lands and dispossession, the upheaval of nations, cultural genocide, broken treaties, assimilation policies such as residential schools, police and carceral racism, continued heinous living conditions on reserves and hugely inequitable health outcomes.
From the Royal Proclamation of 1763, which states Indigenous people are sovereign, to the British North America Act of 1867, there is no discussion of how the Doctrine of Discovery shaped the nation. Discover Canada also omits Indigenous people’s resistance movements, past and present, that contest historical and ongoing forms of colonialism and oppression.
2) The guide celebrates Upper Canada as “the first province in the Empire to move toward abolition” and as a “safe haven” for enslaved Black people escaping the United States, but there is no mention of Canada’s own history of slavery, nor of the pervasive racist violence and human rights violations faced by African and Black Canadians. The guide’s omission of the Code Noir (1685, revised in 1789) further erases the reality of policed and enslaved African lives, which included forced religious conversion, sanctioned punishment and other brutalities.
This legacy, combined with successor policies, has generated over-representation of Black and Indigenous children in foster care and Children’s Aid facilities and high rates of educational, food and housing insecurity, all generating worse health outcomes among Black Canadians.
Likewise, anti-Asian racism is covered only superficially. The horrendous Komagata Maru event is entirely overlooked. The internment of Japanese Canadians during the Second World War is discussed fleetingly, with no mention of numbers affected (over 22,000), uncompensated liquidation of property, family separation or forced postwar relocation.