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w June 30, 2007

Begs The Question

I just read this in today's Yahoo News. Frankly I think it's a bit shameful, particularly since the questions just aren't that hard. How could you not know that Queen Elizabeth II is the head of state for Canada? She's on the damn money!!
I don't know the corresponding statistics for Americans born in the States, but I'm going to go out on a limb and posit that they aren't any worse, and possibly might be better. What I've often found is that there is at least a more cohesive sense of national self in the U.S., whereas in my frozen homeland, it's all about what your hyphen is. As in, are you a Chinese-Canadian, a Jamaican-Canadian, a Dutch-Canadian, etc. While I think it's highly commendable to maintain a strong personal sense of self, it doesn't go all that far into supporting a "Canadian" identity. I once said in a college seminar that identifying as Canadian meant explaining all the things you were NOT. Not American, not British, not French. I wasn't very popular with the professor or my fellow students, as you can imagine.

I wonder if, as the new Canadians who pass the test become "more" Canadian, they too will forget all the answers to the test. Maybe that's the deal. You don't know anything about your country, ergo, you are Canadian. I should also probably go try and take the test myself before I bitch any further. Will update this post with my score if I can find the test, so that you can all either jeer or applaud.

UPDATE: I just took the practice test offered on this site (I did 30 questions), and got an average of 85%. I feel free to bitch.

by at June 30, 2007 8:30 AM | TrackBack Comments

I got a perfect score on 20 questions... I think the ones that are most important are about the electoral process; sure, I think a rudimentary understanding of Canadian history should be expected of all of us, and I'm sure many people don't understand enough about the context of Canada's origins (which is so important to understanding many current political and social issues), but understanding how the political process works, and what one's responsibilities as a Canadian are, seem the most crucial requirements for citizenship, I think. And if the majority of native-born Canadians don't know those, then we are indeed in a bad state.

Posted by: Aven on June 30, 2007 10:57 AM

Now, I do not claim to know ANYTHING about Canadian politics/history (really - I'm not kidding: my full "Canadian" education consists of grade 9 history, which I got a C in), and I managed to get an 80% on this test. But then, I know I'm not the average bear. ugh. I'm actually very pleased with myself.

Posted by: Jen on June 30, 2007 8:21 PM

I did 5 questions, and got 4 of them right. Woohoo. What I know about Canada is pretty small too.

Posted by: Julie on July 2, 2007 10:23 AM

Hmm, a test? Who could resist? 88% (35 right out of 40 questions), so at least I didn't embarrass myself. I agree with Aven, though, about the relative importance of electoral process questions vs. others. For instance, I'm not too bothered that I couldn't remember the year in which the British North America Act came into effect, you know?

Posted by: Camille on July 4, 2007 9:12 AM

I only took 20 questions but got one wrong (apparently I'm not up on my BC provincial politics!) - but I have to disagree that the political process questions are "more important" than basic history or geography questions. Our common heritage is what gives us any kind of unifying identity. I think it is a national embarrassment that we can't name our head of state, or be able to collectively memorize thirteen provinces/territories and their capitals. I'm sure the average American child can rattle off the fifty US states and their state capitals without much difficulty.

Anyway, as an aside, did anyone note that Rudy Griffiths and Michael Chong, MP, the founders of the Dominion Institute, are Trinity grads??? (9T4, no less. Woo Hoo.) And Mike Chong has long been a proponent of remvoing from the language and culture the notion of "hyphenated Canadians", even speaking in the House on this very topic, despite (or perhaps because of) his mixed Chinese and Dutch heritage.

Posted by: Mary on July 9, 2007 8:40 AM
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