What Every Canadian Should Know – Iain Jeffrey

Sunday January 11, 2014

North Vancouver


Dear Cheng Meng Qian,


Welcome to Canada!  This is going to be an excellent professional experience for you and I am honoured to be a part of it.  Our education system is very different from the one in China; Canadian schools, much like Canada itself, are safe, clean, well-managed and, above all, good places for students to learn.


Your question regarding what every Canadian needs to know is an interesting one.  Like most places in the world, I feel it is important for our students to get off to a bright start in obtaining scientific knowledge, information technology capabilities and a capacity for critical thinking.  More specifically in Canada, however, it’s essential for students to begin to understand the Canadian identity.


Canada is a country with a proud population.  Most Canadians see our country as a desirable place to live and the demand from potential immigrants to settle here is overwhelming.  We constantly compare ourselves to our southern neighbour, the USA.  This comforts us in our belief that we are doing things the right way and that we have the best of all worlds amongst developed countries.


It is this attitude that our schools can address.  Canada is indeed a fine place to live.  In order to better understand our identity, we need to learn about our own history and make comparisons with a wider range of places on earth, not just the United States.  Canada’s dark and shameful past with its aboriginal populations needs to be thoroughly explained in schools.  Social justice needs to become more prominent in our curriculum as well.  Canadians are not wont to assemble and demonstrate.  Perhaps it is because we are a nation of immigrants and most of our population is just grateful to be here.  Our constant self-comparison with the United States can leave us blinded to many of the realities elsewhere in the world.  When we look at Canada’s social and political history from the foundation of this country all the way up to the present day, it is simply not possible to gloss over the many injustices upon which this country was founded.  That is what every Canadian needs to know.


As a citizen of China you will surely find that there are some similarities as well as substantial differences with the political and social situations between our two countries.


We look forward to receiving you in our school.


Yours truly,

Iain Jeffrey

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