Effective Today, I Am A Canadian Citizen
Yesterday, I and 87 other permanent residents of Canada from the greater metropolitan area of Toronto and hailing from 23 different nations took our Oath of Citizenship and thus became full-fledged Canadian citizens.
This was the end of a lengthy process or more accurately, the beginning of a new life. We all came from different backgrounds, many from different nations, different political views and climates. We all came to Canada for different reasons; some to start a new life in a prosperous, free and democratic nation. Some came to escape their homeland as refugees. We all came to our new home to start anew.
A Brief Ceremony before the Oath of Citizenship
As we assembled in the courtroom we were briefed on our conduct before the Judge was escorted in and presided over the ceremony. He spoke brilliantly of our special day, and of being honored and privileged to share it with us. He reminded us of our responsibilities and obligations as new Canadians, the freedoms we enjoy and of the new future that we are about to begin as one nation. He spoke of the lessons we had learned about Canadian history, its geography and political system--all requirements of citizenship that culminates with us being gather together this day. We were told that we were about to join into a larger family of citizens in this great nation Canada. We come together in peace and harmony. It was a somber but joyous occasion.
When it was time, we stood and with right hands raised, spoke aloud our Oath of Allegiance given first in French then in English. Upon completion of this and at exactly 11:30AM on September 30th, he proclaimed us all new Canadian citizens.
We Are Canadian Citizens yet I hold Dual Citizenship
The citizenship is officially realized with the signature on our affirmation letter to occur minutes thereafter, which finalizes the Oath. I was first in line owing to my last-name and where I was seated, and while we all technically became citizens at the same time, I was the first to sign.
To be completely truthful, I was second in line. A venerable elderly woman from India with infirmities of both vision and mobility was allowed to pre-sign her Oath and thus, upon taking the verbal Affirmation, became a Canadian citizen mere minutes ahead of all of us.
I had not realized how different the world would look to me this morning. As a natural-born American citizen married to a Polish-Canadian and together living in Toronto, my becoming a Canadian citizen did not seem to be more than a natural progression of events, a formality to cement the fact that this is my home. But it is far more, far greater than just this.
Here is where I live and here is where I want to help shape the ideals and values of my adoptive nation. I can vote for my leaders now and make a difference in the future of Canada. By choosing and electing my leaders I can make my voice heard.
I can even run for political office if that is my wish. I have a stake in the outcome of events that take place in and around this nation I call home.
Canada is my home now. I like the way this feels when I say it. I love my adoptive nation, its flag, its place in the world and the people of Canada. I am proud to be both American and Canadian at the same time. I am home. I am a Canadian.
After the Ceremony, Back Home:
I was presented some small gifts and a photocopied list of ‘funny Canadianisms’ from which I wish to share some selected quips. Let it be known that Canadians have a sense of humor.
Only in Canada can you...
- ...Have a pizza delivered to your house faster than an ambulance can arrive.
- ...Have a Handicapped Parking Only space in front of a hockey rink.
- ...Have sick people walk to the pharmacy in the back of the store to get their medicine but have healthy people buy their cigarettes at the front of the same store.
- ...Have a drive-up ATM machine with Braille lettering for the Visually Handicapped/Blind.
- ...Understand the phrase “May I have another serviette please? I just spilled some of my poutine.”
- ...Design your child’s Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.