Books·Canadian

Room for All of Us

Former governor general Adrienne Clarkson explores the immigrant experience through the people who have helped transform Canada.

Adrienne Clarkson

In this exciting and revealing personal inquiry, former governor general Adrienne Clarkson explores the immigrant experience through the people who have helped transform Canada.

The Canadians she befriends — whether an Ismaili doctor, a Doukhobor farmer, a Holocaust survivor or a Vietnam War deserter — illustrate the changing idea of what it means to be Canadian and the kind of country we have created over the decades. Like her, many of the people who came did not have a real choice: they often arrived friendless and with a sense of loss. Yet their struggles and successes have enriched Canada immeasurably. What drove them to become the kind of people they have become? What would have happened to them if Canada had not taken them in? What have they added to our national life us as we go forward in the twenty-first century?

Written with humour, insight and personal revelation, Room for All of Us is a tale of many destinies. Like W.G. Sebald's The Emigrants, Clarkson's book offers a richly textured, intimate and unforgettable portrait of a changing country and its people. (From Allen Lane Canada)

Read an excerpt | Author interviews

From the book

It was in attending public school that I truly felt a sense of place in this country. Still today I believe that a public education is the single most valuable institution that our society provides to help people belong. If we are going to continue to accommodate newcomers into society, we must continue to have well-funded public education — education paid for by the state, free for all citizens. This has been key to our success ever since our humble beginnings. Without public education, we cannot have a cohesive society, a society with shared values. Without public education, we cannot continue to fulfill the public good — that is, the internationalization and the continuation of our key notions and values from one generation to the next. We can do all of this only in a democratic structure, where all children are treated as equal, regardless of income. That is how people really learn to belong. That is what public education does. We want people who will take their place in our society, but that means we must make sure there are no barriers to inclusion for people who come here.


From Room for All of Us by Adrienne Clarkson ©2011. Published by Allen Lane Canada.

Author interviews

Clarkson on 'citizen'

10 years ago
7:18
Adrienne Clarkson came to Canada as a refugee as a toddler, grew up to become a journalist at CBC, an author, and Canada's 26th Governor General. She gives her view on the good citizen 7:18
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