Social work student hopes to use citizenship status to create change
October 12, 2012
Peter Haastrup calls Canada his home now.
The fourth-year social work student recently became a Canadian citizen. Born in Nigeria, the Rams soccer player moved to Canada when he was 18 and lived as a permanent resident until he was able to apply for his citizenship. Haastrup was part of a group of 70 that participated in the ceremony, which several of his teammates and associate coach Filip Prostran attended.
“It was really great because my family couldn’t be here so having the guys here with Coach Fil was amazing,” Haastrup said. “It was a day of joy. I can now call myself a Canadian.”
Haastrup came to Canada in January 2008 to be closer to his parents who live in the U.S. He says it was easier for him and his siblings to migrate to Canada then move to the U.S. While he was a permanent resident, he recognized the limbo he felt as a non-citizen, saying that “it was challenging [not being a citizen] because you don’t know where you stand.” To prepare, Haastrup had to take a test, studying the Discover Canada textbook which detailed the political, economic and societal history and current context of Canada.
“I took it seriously. I took the text with me to training camp and studied for it,” Haastrup said. “I walk with a different swag now. It feels great to call myself a Canadian. I can vote, which is good, especially in my program – social work – which is all about change.”
Haastrup is active in the community volunteering as a peer mentor for the Tri-Mentoring Program, he’s co-chair of his student course union, was a Rising Ram mentor and interns at Yonge Street Mission mentoring youth. He plans to complete a master’s in social work and international development.
“It’s all about change. I keep thinking of this one quote: be the change you want to see in the world,” he said. “I try to be involved in many initiatives so I can contribute to change. It’s a continuous process.”
Haastrup believes his volunteer experiences and activity in the community help him in the classroom when studying social work theories. When it comes to his citizenship privileges, the one thing he’s most excited about is voting, he says, because it’s a positive way to push for change.
Haastrup is in his third-year playing for the Ryerson Rams men’s soccer team. He played in Nigeria for his high school and church, and played for an East York soccer club once he moved to Toronto. “It wasn’t until I came to Canada that I appreciated athletics as sports development at the youth level is encouraged in Canada, which helps build a good foundation for future performing athletes,” he said.