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Citizens!

Published: 18 Oct 2000

The McGill Institute for the Study of Canada (MISC) invites the public to participate in a conference whose purpose is to examine issues such as: What are the ties that give us a common identity? In a global society, have nations or the concept of the common good any real future?

What will citizenship mean by the year 2020?

Twenty years from now, where will we be as a society? Participants in the 24 workshops and six plenary sessions of the two-day Citizenship 2020 Conference will debate a host of issues in order to figure out the meaning of "Citizenship" now and twenty years hence, in Canada and in the rest of the world. For example, a special panel will explore Quebec citizenship both sympathetically and critically. Another workshop will explore how the media, from newspapers to the internet, serve and sometimes undermine citizenship. However, the Conference organizers do not have an agenda in mind. "True to the Institute’s tradition," states Desmond Morton, Director of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada, "we don’t have an outcome in mind, beyond exposing the issues. Most of the talking will come from the floor."

There is an incredible variety of issues related to citizenship. Who should we let into Canada? How do we decide? How do we want to train our young people to become citizens? Why is that when Canadians go to vote, they so often resent the outcome? As usual MISC is attracting an all-star roster for the conference, including former national NDP leader Ed Broadbent, former Manitoba premier Howard Pawley, philosopher and best-seller author Mark Kingwell (his new book is about – you guessed it – citizenship), The Toronto Star’s Graham Fraser, Le Devoir’s Michel Venne, RDI’ss Claude Beauchamp and a host of academic heavyweights from across the land.

As usual the workshops will be newsworthy. For example, workshop 6, entitled "How do children and young people think about citizenship?" will feature reports of three studies: one from the Ethnic Studies Group at the Université de Montréal; another from the Citizenship Research and Development Group at the University of New Brunswick; and the third from Jocelyn Létourneau of Université Laval who has been studying historical memory among the young. The Université de Montréal and University of New Brunswick researchers have been studying a group of 17-18 years old in Quebec and New Brunswick with particular reference to their sense of identity with their region, province, and country, their level of involvement and their attitude towards diversity. Award winning author Denise Chong (The Concubine’s Daughter), a member of the MISC advisory board, will also be taking part. She will be writing her own book about citizenship, drawing ideas, at least in part, from the MISC conference. As conference taskmaster, Morton is advising all participants to be brief. He wants to encourage long and lively Q and A sessions with audience participation.

Citizenship 2020: Assuming Responsibility for our Future

Friday, October 20 and Saturday, October 21, 2000
Renaissance Hotel du Parc, 3625 du Parc avenue, Montreal
Registration fee: $130 except for students and senior citizens (65+) who will pay $55.
Information & registration:
Tel.: 514-398-2658/398-2605
Fax: 514-398-7336

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