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Am I Canadian Now? Identity and the Canadian Citizenship Test

When approaching the process of becoming a new citizen of any country, immigrants are likely to be faced with a number of personal issues, some of which may seem more pressing than others. One of the most important and widespread concerns with which immigrants interact as they take exams, fill out paperwork, and settle into new roles and living spaces, is that of personal identity. Over the course of one’s life, personal identity is likely to take on a number of attributes gathered from educational experiences, family events and ideals, personal accomplishments, and other factors that stand out over the course of daily life. One’s ethnic background and nationality can also play a large part in this sense of identity, however, and becoming a citizen of a new country can sometimes seem to threaten this basic sense of who a person really is. Of course, the extent to which nationality can compose a person’s identity is limited, and it is usually up to the immigrant in question to decide how much of a role they’d like their ethnic background to play in their own life. Still, personal identity is a concept that can be difficult to navigate alone while changing citizenship.
Those who choose to immigrate to Canada and take the Canadian citizenship test in a bid to become a Canuck are bound to find a welcoming environment that encourages immigrants to learn about the country and participate in national past times and traditions, but which doesn’t expect new citizens to renounce or forget about their cultural pasts. In fact, Canada is notably open to the ideas, languages, artistic practices, and other major attributes of other cultures, and there are many immigrants who, while identifying as Canadian for all official purposes, likely feel that they are still paying tribute to their original homeland.
Engaging with others from one’s immigrant community can be an important part of retaining personal identity during the process of becoming a Canadian. In every part of the country, new citizens can find groups hailing from around the world that celebrate various cultures and practices, whether they come from related areas themselves or are simply interested in other parts of the world. Through talking and interacting with these people, new citizens can keep their sense of national identity alive and help be a part of the international ambassador-ship of their homeland, while fully integrating with Canadian customs and ways of life.
Those who become Canadian citizens without any interest in Canada itself beyond its basic opportunities may find that life in the country doesn’t leave them fulfilled, but those who are genuinely interested in Canada and its many focal points are likely to discover that learning more about the country while retaining a sense of identity that’s linked to their previous homeland is a worthwhile and very meaningful experience. When the Canadian citizenship test is passed and newcomers create their Canadian home, the sense of identity can be enriched and expanded rather than rejected.

4 Comments

  • gaznarok June 18, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    Identity is a very broad subject and shouldn’t be addressed lightly. I personally do not agree with the fact that the immigrant decides how much the new nationality will affect its identity. An immigrant is a person that decided to leave all his identity behind him, his family, his friends his country. He only takes with him that portion of himself he can carry. A new country is a new identity by its own.
    He will have to adapt this identity to become a new being and call himself a Canadian. No immigrant is exempt of this phenomenon.

    Rejection can conclude in the return to ones home land. It is a matter of survival

  • sarahCoh June 29, 2010 at 10:23 am

    gaznarok is right. Going through a citizenship test and a change of country involves a change in personality and identity.
    There is no way an individual can get out of it intact. The meaning of this text is basically lame. If the writer wanted to express a point of view then it must be addressed as one. The reader feels like this is presented as a universal truth. In fact i thing the fundamentals in which this text was written is wrong.

    Sarah C.

  • gaznarok July 6, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    Couldn’t be more agree with Sarah.. The fundamentals of this text are wrong.

  • filosofin July 29, 2010 at 1:46 pm

    i have to disagree with both sarah c. and gaznarok. the change of countries and/or citizenship doesn’t necessary means a change in your identity. it could modify some values but you will always be the same person who was born. people don’t change!!! accept that!!!

    Filo

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