CM . . .
. Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005
Suitable for a middle or junior high school audience, this series of books is timely and topical. The six titles, similar in layout, consist of 22 chapters and include a table of contents, a time line, a glossary and an index. At the back of each book, there is a quiz comprised of multiple choice and mix and match questions which are based on the text and the time line. There is also a list of books and internet resources for further research. The text is enhanced by sidebars for extending knowledge and by plentiful colour and archival photographs and maps.
Canada’s System of Government briefly explains the various forms of government around the world and then goes on to describe this country’s style. A chart, comparing Canadian federalism (constitutional monarchy) to the American style of government (republic) provides an easy basis of comparison between the two nations. The powers and responsibilities of the federal, provincial and municipal governments are described along with the three branches of the federal government - the executive, legislative and judicial. Other topics include ministerial portfolios, the legislative process and how a bill is passed and the hierarchy of the court system. Terms such as “referendum” and “plebiscite” are explained.
Human rights and their development, the responsibilities of the government and its citizens and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms are highlighted in Canadian Citizenship. Several sections deal with the problem of discrimination in regard to women, minorities and aboriginal people. There is also information about the voting process, lobby groups, the Order of Canada and the ways in which Canada fosters tolerance and celebrates the unique cultural heritage of its inhabitants.
Canada’s Road to Independence traces the country’s path to Confederation and sovereignty. Topics in this title include the British North America Act, Canada’s role in the two World Wars and post-war challenges to Canadian sovereignty and the special problems with governing the Arctic provinces and territories. A map provides dates on which each province entered Confederation. Also covered are Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau’s contributions to the Constitution Act and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Meech Lake and Charlottetown Accords are discussed along with how a constitution is amended.
In Canadian Unity, readers will learn that, due to its size, geographical regions and economic diversity, Canada can be a difficult country to govern. Praise is given to institutions and individuals, such as the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the railroad, the Trans-Canada Highway and Sir John A. Macdonald (to name a few) for their contributions to Canadian unity. Other topics included are the various rebellions and wars fought on Canadian soil, the beliefs of each of the major political parties, western alienation, and Québec sovereignty and the official program of the Parti Québécois. With regard to the latter topic, the authors have done a good job of keeping to the facts and not giving opinions. A map indicating the results (i.e. number of seats per party) of the most recent federal election, June 28, 2004, is provided.
Canada is a pluralistic society. In The Canadian Identity, readers will learn about the variety of people and regions that both strengthen and challenge this country. National symbols, such as the flag, the maple leaf and the Canada goose, are mentioned along with the many ways in which Canadians celebrate Canada Day. The history of the nation, from the earliest aboriginal peoples to the arrival of the Europeans, western migration and the post-war wave of immigrants, is described. Other topics in this title include bilingualism and French language rights, the multiculturalism policy and its benefits to society, the ways in which Canadian culture is protected (for example, through the National Film Board and the CRTC), and Canadians’ contributions to the world in terms of inventions (by Bell, Banting and Bombardier, for instance) and Canada’s image abroad. The section on Canada’s relationship with the United States does not paint a very flattering picture of Canada’s southern neighbour due to the Americans’ unwillingness to abide by the rules of the Free trade Agreement and their ignorance and lack of knowledge about this country.
Canada and the Global Village provides information about Canada’s contributions to the American space shuttle program, specifically the Canadarm; foreign aid in terms of food, generous financial assistance, technical cooperation and humanitarian deeds; peacekeeping missions in a variety of places around the world; and involvement in the Commonwealth, the Group of Eight (G8), NATO, the Olympic Games, the United Nations and CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency).
One of the strengths of this series is that each volume can stand alone: none of the information is repeated in the rest of the books. Though quite pricey, the series would be valuable in a junior high school library or social studies classroom.
Gail Hamilton is a teacher-librarian at Bird’s Hill School in East St. Paul, MB.
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other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.