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Ben Fraser is a centre-right student in Journalism at Concordia University.

Age requirements for the Canadian citizenship test should not change

As of Oct. 11th, several changes occurred in the required steps for Canadian citizenship. Most of these changes are minor issues centered around the amount time spent in Canada while applying, meaning that applicants have to stay in Canada for a certain amount of time while the application goes through. Frankly, these mean very little to me.

What has me angry is the new age range for the Canadian citizenship test. The new regulations, as quoted from the Canadian government website are such, ”[The] age range for language and knowledge requirements reduced to 18-54 years old”. The ages were previously 14-64.

To me, reducing this age requirement is insane. I believe most naturalized Canadian citizens don’t know enough about our country’s history–so why are we scaling back the expectations needed for future Canadians?

As for the language requirement, does it not seem crazy that immigrants aged 14-17 and 55-63 don’t need to be qualified in English or French when they become Canadians? The younger immigrants are somewhat understandable, as they are children, but even so, how will they succeed in Canadian schools? The older immigrants should have to know English or French, or else how will they get jobs and contribute to the Canadian economy?

Immigrants make up a large portion of our economy, but to have them lacking in our two languages seems ridiculous.    

I am all for immigration to Canada, as we are a multicultural nation with varied backgrounds. However, Canada has a long and rich history, and to allow some immigrants not to take this test is an insult to the history of Canada, especially during the 150th year of confederation.

Shouldn’t we all know about the places we live in? Even children aged 14-17 should have to take the test. They will be taking Canadian history courses in high school, like we all did. Having young immigrants take the test will not only allow them to catch up with Canadian students, but, in fact, it may give them a push forward. Change is hard for kids, but with a better knowledge of Canadian history, younger immigrants may be able to have an easier time adjusting to a whole new world.

For those aged 55-63, it is just as important they can pass the citizenship test. If you are born and raised in a different culture, and are moving to a place like Canada, it is vital to know the history and culture of your new home. Moving to Canada can be a culture shock, so understanding Canadian culture and history can soften the blow of the shock and make for a much easier transition.

The blending of cultures is quite important in this country, and with each new immigrant, Canadian cultural values increase. However, this doesn’t mean the present history of a nation can be ignored or disregarded.

Canada is known worldwide for having one of the most gruelling and difficult paths to citizenship, yet people still apply. Canada is a country with very tough citizenship requirements, and I hope it stays that way.

The knowledge of a nation’s history is vital for any citizen–younger citizens especially. It is a cliche, but I’ll reiterate the famous saying “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

Canada has had major triumphs, and those moments in our history should be recorded and passed down to everyone who calls themselves Canadian. But Canada has also had several dark moments in its history, and we are bound to have more. With that in mind, isn’t the ability to learn from mistakes a part of what makes us Canadian? We aren’t perfect, and no one is. The younger generation, as well as the older immigrants, should know the history of this country, warts and all.