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Uh- O, Canada. According to a Loans Canada online survey, only 25% of people born and educated in Canada know enough to pass the Canadian Citizenship Test, a requirement for Canadian naturalization.

As Canada welcomes new immigrants and reaches a new population milestone of 40 million, does it mean that we all have the knowledge it takes to become Canadian citizens? 

We surveyed a total of 2094 people online in both English and French. Respondents had 12 minutes to answer a total of 8 multiple-choice or true-false questions. The population identified as Indigenous, White/Caucasian, Black/Afro-Canadian, Central/South/East Asian, Caribbean, European, and other demographics.

The questions reflect the information in the Canadian citizenship test preparation guides. As those who went through the school system here know, Canadian history is a required course across the country. Despite this, only 25% of the people who were born and educated in Canada passed the mock citizenship test. 

Who Did The Best In Canada?

More immigrants of all types – permanent residents, naturalized citizens, refugees, and immigrants of other statuses – passed the test compared to those born in Canada (27% vs. 25%).

Which Region Did The Best?

Surprisingly, British Columbia is in first place: 11.56% of those who lived there passed. Next is Alberta (10.95%), Ontario (10.41%), and Quebec (9.47%).

Does Education Play A Role?

It was quite clear that education played a role. The percentage of respondents that passed decreased along with the highest level of education completed.

It turns out that both Canadian-born residents and immigrants with undergraduate degrees scored the best (75% or better). It didn’t matter if they earned their degree in Canada or not!

If a passing grade of 75% is required for citizenship then a mere 10.19% of Canadian-born respondents passed, compared to 13% of immigrants. No one sample got 100%.

People’s Age Made A Difference – But The Possible Reason Is Surprising

More than double those ages 18-24 passed compared to any other age group. That makes sense given that they studied Canadian history more recently. As late as 2012, only 4 provinces required Canadian History as a compulsory course for graduation.

That can explain why more respondents ages 25-65 did not pass and why many admitted to guessing the answers.

Of course, education is a provincial jurisdiction. Each province has the power to tailor its curriculum, including Canadian history and Canadian studies. While basic facts remain the same, emphasis and exploration are not consistent across provinces. 

For example, 4 out of the 8 questions had a Quebec or francophone implication. French-language respondents did better than the rest of Canada. If we remove the 4 questions, British Columbia still comes first, then Alberta, and the Maritimes. 

Is The History of Canada Wasted on Canadians?

Not everyone loves history and it is nearly impossible to remember everything you learned in high school – if you learned it at all. The majority of Canadians surveyed know the symbolism of the poppy and Sir John A. MacDonald. 

Pretty straightforward things that people often see. Every fall we have the poppy campaign in the media, and MacDonald was on our $10 for a long time. 

When it comes to a more detailed question, the number of people who got the correct answer decreased.

Do Immigrants Learn About Canada’s History Just For The Citizenship Test?

Not necessarily. For immigrants and refugees, learning about Canada’s history and government structure helps them feel included, even getting a job in Canada is hard because of a lack of Canadian experience.

Robert Ndoping is the Client Success Manager at Windmill Microlending, which specializes in helping eligible skilled immigrants pay for and earn certification in Canada. He knows firsthand the role that the history of Canada plays for newcomers.

He explains that, “Our immigrant clients are driven, intelligent, curious people who entrench themselves in their new communities and proudly become part of Canada’s social fabric. Part of that involves learning about their new country’s history and its diverse communities. They choose to make Canada home and embrace being Canadian in inspiring and beautiful ways.”

Could You Pass This Test?

Could you pass the test? Answer these questions now without any help (including Google!) in 12 minutes or less.

1. Who passed the Quebec Act of 1774?

  • The Canadian Parliament
  • The British Parliament
  • The Quebec Parliament
  • The French majority

2. What is “La Francophonie”?

  • An area in Quebec
  • A festival in Quebec to celebrate the French language
  • An international association of French-speaking countries
  • A french person

3. True or False: The completion of the Canadian National Railway made it possible for immigrants to settle in Western Canada.

  • True
  • False

4. True or False: Sir John A. Macdonald was one of the fathers of Confederation. 

  • True
  • False

5. What is the meaning of the Remembrance Day poppy? 

  • To remember our Sovereign, Queen Elizabeth II. 
  • To celebrate Confederation.
  • To remember the sacrifice of Canadians who have served or died in wars up to the present day. 
  • To honour prime ministers who have died. 

6. When was/were the Quebec referendum(s)?

  • Year 1982
  • Year 1980 and 1995
  • Year 1963 and 1976
  • Year 1976

7. Name the three parts of Parliament.

  • The Sovereign, the Prime Minister and the Premiers
  • The Sovereign, the House of Commons and the Senate
  • The Sovereign, the Governor General and the Prime Minister
  • The Prime Minister, the House of Commons and the Senate

8. Which four provinces first formed Confederation?

  • Ontario, Quebec, Nova Scotia and New Brunswick
  • Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island
  • Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia
  • Quebec, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island

How do you think you did? If you want to know the answers, click here.

Stefani Balinsky avatar on Loans Canada
Stefani Balinsky

Stefani Balinsky is the Head of Content Strategy at Loans Canada. Her work and her commentary have appeared in major media including the Toronto Star, Financial Post, and Bell Media. She is a creative and analytical thinker with a way with words. Direct, empathetic and funny, she makes convincing and coherent sense out of complex ideas. She has many years of leadership experience in marketing, writing, mentoring, and fintech.

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