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Redefining Citizenship in Australia, Canada, and Aotearoa New Zealand

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Jatinder Mann

Adopting a political and legal perspective, Redefining Citizenship in Australia, Canada, and Aotearoa New Zealand undertakes a transnational study that examines the demise of Britishness as a defining feature of the conceptualisation of citizenship in Australia, Canada, and Aotearoa New Zealand and the impact that this historic shift has had on Indigenous and other ethnic groups in these states. During the 1950s and 1970s an ethnically based citizenship was transformed into a civic-based one (one based on rights and responsibilities). The major context in which this took place was the demise of British race patriotism in Australia, English-speaking Canada, and Aotearoa New Zealand. Although the timing of this shift varied, Aboriginal groups and non-British ethnic groups were now incorporated, or appeared to be incorporated, into ideas of citizenship in all three nations. The development of citizenship in this period has traditionally been associated with immigration in Australia, Canada, and Aotearoa New Zealand. However, the historical origins of citizenship practices in all three countries have yet to be fully analysed. This is what Redefining Citizenship in Australia, Canada, and Aotearoa New Zealand does. The overarching question addressed by the book is: Why and how did the end of the British World lead to the redefinition of citizenship in Australia, Canada, and Aotearoa New Zealand between the 1950s and 1970s in regard to other ethnic and Indigenous groups? This book will be useful for history and politics courses, as well as specialised courses on citizenship and Indigenous studies.

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Chapter 2: Redefining Citizenship in Canada, 1950s–1970s

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Redefining Citizenship in Canada, 1950s–1970s1

In the 1950s, English-speaking Canada very much identified itself as a British country and an integral part of a wider British World which had the UK at its centre. Canada’s bicultural nature, with the French-Canadians, complicated this self-identity. However, by the 1970s, this British World had come to an end, as had Canada’s self-identification as a British nation. During this period, citizenship in Canada was redefined in a significant way from being an ethnic (British)-based one to a more civic-founded one which was more inclusive of other ethnic groups and apparently Indigenous peoples. This chapter will argue that this redefinition of citizenship took place primarily in the context of this major shift in national identity. After having established the context of the end of the British World in Canada (with a focus on the Suez Crisis of 1956 and the UK’s application for entry into the EEC) it will explore the Canadian Citizenship Acts of 1957, 1962, 1967, and 1977 to illustrate how citizenship became more inclusive of other ethnic groups in the country. It will then study the amendments of the Elections Act in 1950 and the Indian Act in 1955; the awarding of the right to vote for First Nations (I will use the contemporary term “First Nations” in this chapter to describe Indigenous groups who were historically referred to as “Indians.” However, any quotes from historical sources will of course employ the term used at...

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