Madam Speaker, before I start my intervention, I would like to inform the House that I will be sharing my time with the member for Don Valley East.
I would also like to acknowledge that we are on the traditional territory of the Algonquin nation.
I am pleased to have this opportunity to speak at second reading of Bill C-6, a bill that proposes amendments to the citizenship oath to include an acknowledgement of the important role of indigenous people in our country.
These amendments have four key components of much significance. First, they appreciate and respect that indigenous people are an important part of Canada's history and identity. Second, they reflect our government's commitment to the path of reconciliation. Third, they remind all Canadians who take the oath of citizenship that the recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights is a responsibility enshrined in our Constitution. Fourth, they ensure that all Canadians move toward reconciliation in unity.
In order to become a citizen of this great nation of ours, all newcomers 14 years and older who have been granted citizenship must take the oath of citizenship. Upon reciting the oath, new citizens agree to obey Canadian laws and fulfill their duties as Canadians. The citizenship oath may only consist of a few words, but its significance is profound. Indeed, the citizenship oath is an important symbol of the values we share as citizens of Canada.
When newcomers take the citizenship oath, they make a solemn promise to their fellow Canadians. It is a public declaration that they are joining the Canadian family and are committed to Canadian values and traditions.
Immigration has shaped Canada, which currently includes citizens of over 200 ethnic groups. Thirteen of those ethnic groups have Canadian populations of over one million people. Today, more than one-fifth of Canadians were born outside of Canada. These individuals chose to immigrate to Canada. The fact that Canada has one of the highest naturalization rates in the world underscores the value of our citizenship. Over the last 10 years, Canada has welcomed nearly 1.7 million new Canadians.
Canada values the important contributions that indigenous people have made throughout our history. First nation, Inuit and Métis people all played a role in building a stronger Canada. Indigenous people will continue to play a crucial role in our shared future.
The government's proposed amendments to the citizenship oath would allow new Canadians to fully appreciate and respect that indigenous people are an important part of Canada's history and identity. The new citizenship oath would also reflect our expectations that new Canadians demonstrate an understanding of indigenous people and their constitutional rights. In addition to fostering a better appreciation and recognition among new citizens of the important contributions of indigenous people, the proposed new citizenship oath reflects our government's commitment to reconciliation, hence my second point.
The government is committed to a renewed relationship with indigenous people based on respect, rights, co-operation and partnership. The proposed new citizenship oath responds to a call to action from the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and is the result of consultations with national indigenous organizations. The revised text also reminds all Canadians that recognition of aboriginal and treaty rights is not a political or administrative gesture, but a responsibility enshrined in our Constitution, hence my third point.
While Canada's Constitution recognizes and affirms the rights of indigenous people, the government believes that all Canadians should have a deeper appreciation of the role of indigenous people in the history and culture of Canada. Whether we were born here or chose to become a citizen, as Canadians we respect fundamental rights and freedoms, share values of equality and celebrate our diverse culture, traditions and languages. These traditions and cultures include those of indigenous people.
The process of reconciliation is one in which all Canadians can and should participate. This includes the participation of our newest citizens, hence my fourth point. It is essential that all Canadians move forward together on the road to reconciliation so we can leave a proper legacy for future generations.
With these changes to the citizenship oath, let us take this opportunity to acknowledge our country's past and move toward a renewed relationship with indigenous people based on inherent rights, respect and partnership. The government is proudly introducing historic changes to the oath of citizenship so that new Canadians can also promise to faithfully observe the law of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the treaty rights of first nations, Inuit and Métis people. With strong indigenous institutions, we will contribute to the important work of closing the socio-economic gap and fostering strong indigenous communities for future generations.
I urge hon. members to join me in supporting this crucial piece of legislation at second reading.