Every new Canadian looking for full citizenship must take the Canadian Citizenship Test, an exam that evaluates their ability to speak one of our two official languages, as well as their general knowledge of Canadian history. The answers to all of those questions can be found in one convenient document titled Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship.
The document weighs in at 68-pages, but when you take away covers, photo pages, notes pages, indexes and all the creative white space, you can probably get through it all on a single trip to the can.
And fair enough - Canada is a young country in the scheme of things, just 145 years old since our founders decided that it wasn't practical, or safe, for British North America to remain entirely British. (Still, we retained close ties as a member of the commonwealth and a constitutional monarchy with the reigning English king or queen as our titular head of state - which is why Prince William and Kate Middleton are totally coming here for a visit in July!)
It takes more for a booklet, however nice and loaded with facts, to truly be a Canadian. You really have to live it to understand it or, better yet, you have to leave it for a while. Seriously - go backpacking, work abroad or study for a semester somewhere where the arches are 500 years old. The first thing you'll notice is that most people like Canadians (even if all they know about us is hockey and the Red Green Show). The second thing you'll realize is that there's really nowhere in the world like home.
To be Canadian is to share a common experience, from the beauty and inconvenience of winter snow to spring swarms of black flies; muggy summer days that don't last long enough and dissolve into the harvest beauty that is autumn. Our cities are awesome, our wilderness is unmatched. We're brave when we need to be, but mostly just try to get along. We're funny, even when we're trying to be serious. We talk funny, in both official languages.
While nobody will tell you to leave if you don't do well in the Pique's annual Canada Day Quiz, and your citizenship isn't at stake, here is our reward - score better than 80 per cent and you'll qualify for double-secret citizenship (keep it under your toque!) - a special honour reserved for people who know a little something about the faces that are on our colourful money and that our national sport is lacrosse, no matter what the beer commercials say.
Double-secret citizenship doesn't get you anything like a discount at Tim Horton's, but it does give you the right to walk a little taller, fly the flag a little higher and be proud as can be. Just try not to be obnoxious about it or your double status could be revoked.
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