Celebrating Canada’s 150th with new Canadians
Canadians come from all over the world, and diversity is our strength. These were the messages put forth when Ryerson University hosted a citizenship oath ceremony on April 12, in celebration of Canada’s 150th anniversary.
“Canada as a model of diversity has a unique identity,” said immigration judge Nancy Siew, who presided over the ceremony at the Sears Atrium. “It’s that link—linguistic, cultural, and regional diversity—that has enriched history and heritage.
“In Canada, we respect one another, and we make room for differences. Canada is also a land of equality: men and women are equal under the law. Regardless of colour, race, and background, all come to Canada’s shore and join in equality.”
University president Mohamed Lachemi spoke of his experience as an Algerian-born immigrant. “I can tell you from personal experience that the act of becoming a citizen will stay with you forever. But there is no need to give up your past. Diversity is a great strength for our country and for our university. We all have different life stories, and today we share gratitude for a great country that offers hope for the future; a country that protects our differences, and sees diversity as a strength.”
Siew, also a first-generation Canadian, recalled leaving her home country for a better life for her children, finding that her professional qualifications were not recognized in her adoptive nation, and working to re-attain her career. To the new Canadians, she offered, “Remember the pride of being Canadian. Every day, you are a part of making Canada a better country. Make Canada a kinder and gentler nation for all.”
Siew also implored the new Canadians to find opportunities to volunteer. “You say, ‘Judge, I don’t have time, I’m working five jobs, I have 10 children at home, I have an elderly mother and I have to take care of her.’ Well, I’m not saying to do it now. When you’re ready, and not so busy.”
All photos by Christopher Manson.
This story is one in a series about Canada 150.
Telling Canada’s Stories