“For someone with no formal education, it’s hard,” Tekan said. “We welcome the news about the changes (by the Liberals), but it’s not going to help everyone.”
Although there is a provision in the Citizenship Act that waives the knowledge requirement based on medical opinions that applicants will “never” pass the exam, it’s a long, tedious process.
Deli Hussan, a single mother of three children, twice had her citizenship application rejected. She attempted the knowledge exam six times, but the best she ever scored was 60 per cent, missing the 75-per-cent mark.
A dropout at Grade 5, the 33-year-old Iraqi woman was diagnosed with adjustment disorder, with anxiety and a depressed mood — partially a result of past domestic abuse.
“I studied very hard, but I was sweating and shaking at the exam. I felt like I was going to die. I got more nervous every time because I was afraid I would fail again. It was crazy,” said Hussan, who was resettled to Canada in 2008 under Ottawa’s government refugee sponsorship program and applied for citizenship in 2011.
“I don’t feel safe to go anywhere without the citizenship. As a permanent resident, I am not protected. I would like to be able to vote in elections.”