Recently, I had the great privilege of observing my very first citizenship ceremony. Over 20 people became Canadian citizens.
Those in attendance included Christians and Muslims, Blacks, Whites, Asians, English, French and several other languages too. Fathers, sons, mothers, grandparents, a few babies and toddlers. One husband very proud that now nothing could separate him from his wife. Hijab, sari, neckties, high-heels and running shoes. An RCMP officer if full regalia. A framed photograph of our Queen. One flag: Canadian. And why not one big slab of cake too? Cake speaks many languages.
The presiding judge told the candidates they were a “wonderful cozy group of people” and “at this hour, the most important people in Canada.” He explained that’s why everyone showed up: to formally “invest our trust and our hopes in you and your future contributions to this country.”
Every new Canadian received gifts: a Canadian flag, a pin and a cultural access pass which provides free entrance to museums and cultural sites across Canada for one year. Essentially, the gift is an expectation to learn more about this amazing Canada that only some have always called home. I dare say we Canadians could all use one of those passes.
The judge had several tips, recommendations and instructions. He said that “citizenship demands participation, involvement, and commitment.” He requested these new citizens “adopt our symbols, our traditions, our history, and share our values.” He asked them to “become leaders, and respect the sacrifices made in the past by women, by soldiers, by our freedom fighters.” He added that, “just like you, many Canadians originally came from different places, with different beliefs. Like them, learn to be good citizens, obey the law, and defend our country” because “you are now entitled to opportunities many countries only dream of.”