Citizenship website will help new Canadians study

Oct 15, 2013 | News website aims to help youth newcomers learn about citizenship website aims to help young newcomers learn about citizenship

Sandra De Grandis

The Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants (OCASI) launched a new website and app for Android and iPhone on Oct. 15 to assist young newcomers study for their citizenship test.

“It was done with a youth perspective in mind. The goal is to get newcomer youth to talk about citizenship,” Dave Montague, manager of IT and new media at OCASI, told Humber News. “There are instructions on how to become a citizen, the steps, how to apply and test preparation.”

Sarah Hamdi, project coordinator at OCASI told Humber News one of the challenges they faced when creating the website was using simplifying vocabulary for newcomers who are still learning the language. The website also simplifies the Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) guide.

“There’s a plain language study guide, it’s rewritten in a way that’s more approachable, and it explains big words and some of the concepts. The plain language will help you understand the bigger CIC guide,” Montague said.

The website also explains the difference between having a Canadian citizenship and permanent residency. “Many youth couldn’t identify the difference,” said Hamdi.

Canadian citizens have more rights and protection than those with permanent residence status. Those with permanent residence can’t vote, some jobs require citizenship and traveling can be difficult if something happens overseas. However, some newcomers may not want to give up their original citizenship and may be scared to ask questions, said Montague.

“A lot of the rules around citizenship are tightening and the standards are being raised, in terms of speaking English… the fear is with new regulations, people will be hesitant to apply for citizenship, so the website tries to provide people with good information so they can know what they need to do to apply for citizenship,” Mario Calla, executive director of COSTI Immigrant Services in Toronto, told Humber News.

The interactive website, which is funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada, also gives youth the opportunity to earn badges as rewards for their progress. They can track their progress in their learning sessions. Besides plain text, the website includes video, audio and flashcards.

Youth can also take a timed simulated citizenship test, which includes 20 questions in 30 minutes. Other quizzes are also available. The website is available in English and French.