Thursday, October 17, 2013

Giving Thanks For Canadian Citizenship This Thanksgiving

Posing with RCMP Canadian Citizenship Certificate
The Certificate
Hi There, VivBounty here to share with you my gratitude this Thanksgiving season and on the 6th anniversary of our arrival in New Brunswick. In my case returning home to Canada after 17 years living abroad.

On October 9th, my hubby became a Canadian Citizen. There were 39 new Canadians taking the oath of citizenship at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton that day from 17 countries: New Zealand, Scotland, England, USA, India, Nigeria, Senegal, Guinea, Sierra Leone, South Korea, Congo, Russia, Haiti & Romania, for example. Some had family with them, some had friends as guests and one that we know of seemed to come alone.

ICC, The Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a national non-profit charity that engages Canadians in active citizenship hosted a most enjoyable informal pre oath-taking roundtable discussion. Volunteer facilitators under the management of Mandy Joseph (ours was Irina from Romania of Hungarian descent who became a Canadian Citizen 20 years ago) asked questions like, "when did you first feel Canadian", "what makes you decide now to become a Canadian Citizen"? Our MC for the day, Marshall Button, the artist-in-residence at the Capitol Theatre in Moncton, the man behind "Lucien" , kept us entertained with Canadian anecdotes like having Tim Horton's coffee intravenously as initiation to being a Canadian. Tim Horton's coffee, tea, cake and of course, TimBits (TM) were provided for our enjoyment. He welcomed us on behalf of Moncton City Council Mayor, George LeBlanc and the other dignitaries.

Marshall Button (left) joins our roundtable with Irina (right)

As the volunteer spokesperson for each table stood to share in short what we discussed we heard words in both French and English like freedom, clean air, space, opportunity for employment, security, ability to vote, random acts of kindness, importance of education, and a sense for wanting to work for Canada, our land "True North Strong and Free", things many of us take for granted.

The Hon. Herménégilde Chiasson, former Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick presided over the oath-taking ceremony in English and French, in a very welcoming and moving way. He thanked the new Canadians for choosing Canada as their home, shared some of Canada's history, welcomed them home, acknowledged the struggle for many to make it to this point while affirming that they would thrive here as positive additions to the diversity of Canada's population. The oath was taken en mass, and we were told each new Citizen had to be seen saying the words for it to be official. If you chose to use a religious book, you began your oath with "I swear", alternatively you would begin with "I affirm". Finally, each Citizen would go up on stage to receive their official Certificate of Canadian Citizenship.
Presentation of Canadian Citizenship Certificate
Brian received certificate
I stood at the wrong side of the theatre because that's where the press box was, so only got a picture of Brian's back, but managed to get a video of his oath.

In a gift bag to each new Canadian Citizen, besides various small souvenirs of the day, was a Cultural Access Pass which provides complimentary admission to more than 1000 of Canada's cultural treasures from coast-to-coast-to-coast. The Cultural Access Pass creates opportunities for Canada's newest citizens to discover our rich cultural history, world-renowned artworks, historical figures and stunning parks, including discounts on Via Rail. Thirty five years ago when I became a Canadian citizen, our gift was a bible and in the absence of the pre-oath discussion, seemed a shorter, more solemn, albeit momentous occasion for my mother and I.

Marshall Button interviewed several new Canadian Citizens, including Brian, for his Friday morning show on CBC radio, which we were able to get the link to here. The auto start audio was a bit loud, so we provided the link instead of embedding the show below:

Citizen Marshall Button interviews New Canadians - Click here

Although our family and friends were not present at the ceremony, they were with us in spirit, in our hearts and evident in the cards and messages of congratulations and pride we received. My dad did not live to see this day, but he was represented by the bible upon which Brian swore his Canadian citizenship oath, which was given to my mum by her employer in his memory at the time of his passing.

After all was said and done, Marshall asked Brian what was the first thing he was going to do as a new Canadian Citizen and he said, "I'm going across the street to have a steak, mate".

Bountiful blessings and a very Happy Thanksgiving to everyone!