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Recension de Mark SATIN, editor, Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2018. 160 pages

Luke Stewart
p. 219-223
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Mark SATIN, editor, Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2018. 160 pages.

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1Before the Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada even left the print shop in January 1968 it had already sold-out its first print run of 5,000 copies. Mark Satin, the Manual’s editor and director of the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme (TADP), quickly produced a revised and updated second edition of 20,000 more copies in March 1968. The booklet quickly became highly sought after and would emerge as one of the most important and iconic movement publications of the Vietnam War era. Selling 60,000 copies in total and distributed to over 2,000 draft counseling centres and antiwar organizations in the United States and across Canada, it would ultimately be bootlegged an estimated 30,000 times in various formats by these same groups. Leaving a distinct imprint on both sides of the border as an important resource and guidebook, the booklet’s reach is therefore far greater than traditional commercial sales indicators normally suggest. The Manual also garnered attention from the news media, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), and Canadian government officials. To commemorate both the fiftieth anniversary of the publisher and its publication of the Manual, the House of Anansi has reprinted the March 1968 edition with a new introduction by the late James Laxer, who wrote a chapter on Canadian universities, and a new afterword by Mark Satin.

2The booklet’s primary purpose was to provide accurate advice on Canadian immigration and border regulations and offer a brief introduction to Canadian life. Its step-by-step nature meant it was a vital resource for both draft and immigration counselors and potential draft resisters. The detailed information would also have been useful for the tens of thousands of American women who crossed the border either as partners and spouses of draft resisters or as objectors to various aspects of American life. For the un-initiated into radical or new left politics, anti-draft organizing, or any form of activism for that matter, the Manual provided the most important pieces of information to help anyone navigate the thorny questions and decide whether they were going to dodge the draft and head to Canada. In the original introduction, Satin informs the reader that “Canada is not an easy way out” as such a decision necessarily included complex and life-altering choices. Nonetheless, the first part of the Manual provided information on Canadian immigration regulations and the numerous ways they could emigrate to Canada: (1) applying for landed immigrant status (permanent residency) at the Canadian border, from within Canada, at a consulate in the United States, via mail, or through sponsorship by a Canadian family member; (2) as a six-month visitor; or (3) as a student. Satin specifically noted that the potential immigrant would not be applying for asylum or refugee status and that “an American’s possible military obligations are not a factor in the decision to permit him to enter and remain.” While intentionally omitting the category of military deserters, the booklet maintained that the only way a potential draft resister could be refused immigrant status or deported is if they did not meet the requirements as laid out in immigration regulations (the October 1967 Points System) or if they were considered part of a prohibited class of person found in the U.S.-Canadian Extradition Treaty (printed in Appendix A of the Manual).

3This intentional omission of advice to military deserters was done in anticipation of a potential backlash by the Canadian government and it helps us understand who the Manual was intended to help: the relatively well-educated or employable middle-class draft dodger who would likely receive the obligatory fifty points out of one hundred needed to obtain landed status (SATIN 2018, 129; KASINSKY 1976, 108-111). As Robert D. Katz, employment counsellor for the Department of Manpower and Immigration, notes in his chapter (written as a private citizen): “Many recent American immigrants have Bachelors Degrees. While this is certainly an asset, most immigrants to Canada have not had nearly as much education, so even with a high school diploma your opportunities remain good” (SATIN 2018, 98). However, in Appendix B Occupations in Strong Demand, it is remarked: “Many of the occupations on this list require a degree or extended training, but some of them can be acquired in six months to a year” (Ibid 122).

4This is not to say that the Manual was not useful for working-class, poor, or racialized people who did not go to university, have a skilled trade or for those considering deserting the military. Satin does write in the original introduction that those facing “special difficulties that are not covered here” were to directly contact the TADP for more personal counseling (Ibid 6) and this in practice could be done by traveling to Canada as a visitor. There is also direct and useful advice on the easiest way to cross the border if you did not meet the immigration requirements because of a lack of secondary education, trade, or familial connections in Canada. The booklet gives advice on having enough money in your pocket ($10 per day) to the best mode of transportation to the border (traveling by car or by train or bus with a two-way ticket). It is also advised that hitchhikers or “[v]isitors with long hair, untidy dress, or peace buttons are detained more often than others” (Ibid 9-10).

5Part Two of the Manual provides a well-rounded introduction to life in Canada – history, politics, culture, cities, geography and climate. These sections are written by a variety of respected academics such as University of Toronto historians Kenneth McNaught and J.M.S. Careless, and James Laxer from Queens University, activists and counselors Heather Dean, Naomi Wall and Peggy Morton, and government employee Robert Katz. In this portion, the reader is provided with an erudite comparison and explanation of the differences between Americans and Canadians, French- and English-speaking Canadians, and of the key regional differences. There is also a significant amount of historical information on Canadian immigration policy, war resistance, and of the important Canadian literary and cultural contributions. Interestingly, there was no effort to promote Canada as somehow more enlightened on race relations than the United States, as one of the authors argues that “race tension is not a major urban problem” as compared with the United States. Nonetheless, where large racialized communities lived – Afro-Canadians in Halifax or Dresden, First Nations in Sault Ste. Marie, or Japanese communities on the West Coast – “white Canadians have reacted generally in the same manner as American whites” (Ibid 87-88). There are also valuable selections of statistics on living conditions, prices for consumer goods, jobs opportunities, and housing costs in different Canadian cities.

6When the Manual was officially released, E.D. Fulton (PC-Kamloops) queried in the House of Commons whether the Department of Justice would be investigating the publication to see if it advocated breaking Canadian and U.S. law. The RCMP was already at work trying to get a hold of their own copy, which they did easily in Toronto, and distributed it within the Criminal Investigation’s Branch, to the Solicitor General and elsewhere (INFORMATION REPORT 1968). Ultimately, after examining the Manual, the Security and Intelligence Branch of the RCMP concluded that it was “essentially a booklet of information and does not, in our view, incite or counsel the commission of any violation of Canadian Law” (HIGGITT 1968b). For the Mounties, the Manual aided their investigation into the antidraft movement and the groups listed therein, from the Vancouver Committee to Aid American War Objectors (VCAAWO) to the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme (TADP) to the Newfoundland Committee to Aid American War Objectors. New files were opened on each of these organizations and investigations launched to discover who organized the groups and “the degree of subversive involvement, manipulation, etc., and the prime functionaries within each individual committee” (HIGGITT 1968a).

7When the booklet appeared in 1968, widespread resistance to the draft was in ascendance across the United States and thousands of Americans had already dodged the draft to Vancouver, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Toronto, Montreal and elsewhere. Because of the day-to-day work of Mark Satin and TADP, the Manual inserted itself into this milieu of growing opposition to the war and divisive debate. It found itself on the bookshelves of the growing network of local, regional and national groups on both sides of the border and it was also promoted in various newsletters and movement publications (CALCAV 1970; CADRE; AFSC; LYND 1968, 329). The Manual contributed to this debate and encouraged the growth of awareness of people’s options for opposing it. This is despite the fact, as Satin demonstrates in his new afterword, the publication and distribution of the booklet was by no means easy or universally celebrated in anti-draft or antiwar movements, let alone in the two countries more broadly. This was because draft dodging was a controversial issue and such a booklet was feared to add unwarranted publicity toward the war resister aid groups in Canada and stymie their work. Moreover, student radicals in the Students for a Democratic Society, and others from Joan Baez to Stokely Carmichael, argued that draft resisters should remain in the United States and fight at home or go to jail. Others in the pacifist and church groups, women’s peace organizations, and draft resistance groups supported the resisters going to Canada (SATIN 2018, 129). In this context, and with a large pool of potential readers, the Manual provided a slim, simple, and highly readable resource for those seeking answers to complex questions. As a valuable tool to be used and its wide distribution and information sharing helps us to better understand how social movements grow and flourish.

8While Canadian immigration law has changed significantly since the Vietnam War era and this has forced military deserters from the American wars in Afghanistan and Iraq to apply for refugee status (SATIN 2018, 140), the Manual’s importance is in its contribution to the building of a new consciousness around questioning the legality of modern war and counterinsurgency, of democracy and the Cold War, and of the established state structures of obedience and control embodied in the draft system and the military. The Manual’s appearance in 1968, the year of uprisings around the world, and its reprinting fifty years later, helps us to put into perspective the work and dedication needed to build networks and social movements. As Satin’s new afterword demonstrates, this was an acrimonious endeavour and one which helps to complicate our understanding of the era.

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AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE (AFSC). No Date. “Draft Resources: Materials a Draft Counselor Must Have.” Document No. 14511002029. Box 10, Folder 02. Social Movements Collection. The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Accessed 05 October 2018.

CARDE Chicago Area Draft Resistance. No Date. “Literature List.” Document No. 14511127007 Box 11, Folder 27. Social Movements Collection. The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Accessed 05 October 2018.

CLERGY AND LAYMEN CONCERNED ABOUT VIETNAM (CALCAV). 1970. “Literature List.” September. Document No. 14511248048. Box 12, Folder 48. Social Movements Collection. The Vietnam Center and Archive, Texas Tech University. Accessed 05 October 2018.

FULTON, E.D. (PC-Kamloops). Hansard. Commons Debates. 12 February 1968, 27th Parliament, 2nd Session, Vol. 6. Ottawa: Queens Printer, 1968. p. 6614.

HIGGITT, W.L. 1968a. To Commander Officers “A,” “B,” “D,” “F,” “H,” “J,” “K,” and “L” and The Officers i/c S.I.B. “C,” “E,” and “0”, 8 March 1968. ATIP No. A201500081, RG 146, RCMP File, Vol. 16, Correspondence 17-2-68 to 29-3-68.

HIGGITT, W.L. 1968b. To Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs. 17 May 1968. ATIP No. A201500081, RG 146, RCMP File, Vol. 18, Correspondence 8-5-68 to 20-6-68.

INFORMATION REPORT. 1968. Toronto S.I.B. 16 February. ATIP No. A201500081, RG 146, RCMP File, Volume 15, Correspondence 31-1-68 to 16-2-68.

KASINSKY, Renée. 1976. Refugees from Militarism: Draft-Age Americans in Canada, New Brunswick, Transaction Books.

LYND, Alice. 1968. We Won’t Go: Personal Accounts of War Objectors. Boston: Beacon Press.

SATIN, Mark, ed. 2018. Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada. Toronto: House of Anansi.

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Luke Stewart, « Recension de Mark SATIN, editor, Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2018. 160 pages »Études canadiennes / Canadian Studies, 85 | 2018, 219-223.

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Luke Stewart, « Recension de Mark SATIN, editor, Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada. Toronto: House of Anansi, 2018. 160 pages »Études canadiennes / Canadian Studies [En ligne], 85 | 2018, mis en ligne le 01 décembre 2019, consulté le 23 septembre 2021. URL : ; DOI :

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