AMHERST, N.S. – When you are applying for Canadian citizenship, you must prove that you can speak either English or French at an understandable level.
One of the steps to doing that is by completing the online Canadian Language Benchmark Placement Test, and you can now do that in Amherst, with Maggie’s Place Family Resource Centre becoming an official proctor site for the English test.
The idea came from Maggie’s Place employee Hee Yeon Son, herself an immigrant from Korea.
“Hee Yeon did research and realized that if someone wanted to access these language assessment services, they had to go to Halifax or Moncton,” said executive director Sarah MacMaster. “So we thought it might be good for us to offer a proctor site. Anyone in Cumberland County who is interested can come to us, and it’s free of charge.”
Maggie’s Place provides a computer, a headset and a quiet space for anyone to take the two-hour online test.
The family resource centre is a great place to offer the service, according to Son.
“As an immigrant, I met a lot of people through Maggie’s Place before I worked here,” she said. “I think it’s a great place to go because, if you’re new, you don’t know anything about it.
“I felt very welcome when I first got here, with the programs I attended, so if we had something like that actually helping immigrants, that would be nice,” she added.
The test is also helpful for those wishing to meet the language requirements for college or further their education, or even Canadian citizens born outside of Canada who wish to improve their language skills.
To be eligible for the test, you must be a permanent resident of Canada, a protected person, a Canadian citizen born outside of Canada, an individual awaiting statutory CIC checks, a Nova Scotia nominee, a PR applicant with a valid work permit, or an international graduate with a valid work and graduate permit.
It’s all part of an effort to be diverse, open and welcoming to new people in the community, according to MacMaster, who said they are also planning to start a Newcomers Club in the near future.
“We know there are families our there who could benefit from our services, and feeling supported and welcomed, but it’s really hard to come through the door that first time,” she said. “We’re hoping this may bring people through the door we wouldn’t necessarily see otherwise.”
Those wishing to take the test are encouraged to contact Maggie’s Place, either by stopping in to make an appointment, or by calling 902-667-7250.