Friday May 19, forty people from thirteen different countries gave their Oath of Citizenship affirming their allegiance to King Charles at the Morden Access Event Centre.
Morden Immigration Coordinator Shelly Voth said the City of Morden signed up as soon as they heard in person ceremonies were resuming for the first time since they were moved online during the pandemic. A team from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) put on the ceremony and Morden provided the venue, decorations and snacks.
Voth is often the first person newcomers to Morden meet before they even move to Canada. She explained why this was an exciting day for her.
" I love it when I get to see the people that came through Morden's Immigration Program of finally getting citizenship because becoming a citizen is a long process even after people have arrived to Canada as Permanent Residents. But because I get to be in contact with them right from the dreaming stage of wanting to move to Morden. It's just been a really neat and long relationship and it's really exciting to see them hit this milestone."
Jordan Cuyopan came from the Philippines at the end of January of 2019 with his family. Voth met them at the airport to give them a ride home. He recalled it being a record cold day and they were only wearing thin jackets and shoes. Four years later, they are citizens of this country.
"We're happy that we've been accepted as part of the Morden Family because of the because of Shelly Voth spearheading this kind of opportunity for us, for all of us families who wish to come here to Canada. And it's been great. It's been a journey and. Thank you for everything, thank you for giving us this time to enjoy your lives here."
Debasis Ganguli came to Canada April 2019 from Bangladesh.
"Today I have become a citizen of Canada. This is very a special day. We are so excited, me and my family."
Sixteen-year-old David Schulz and his 7 brothers and sisters also became citizens.
"And I'm happy that I got my citizenship. It really means lots to me. I finally can practice being a Canadian citizen because I moved here and now, I live in this country, and I want to be a part of it."
Dimple Sharma and her children became citizens a year after her husband, Arun Moudgil received his citizenship through an online ceremony. They chose Canada as a place to live because it is multicultural and helpful to each other and newcomers. They describe this day as a dream come true. Sharma expressed her feelings on such a special day.
"We are Canadian now. We just took our oath. So, we are so excited. Now, we are totally Canadians. It's like a golden moment for me."
Najwha and Sashé Clarke born in Jamaica, came from Oakville, Mb for the ceremony.
"It's a very proud moment for me. I'm very ecstatic, obviously. I'm looking forward to getting my passport and traveling. It's awesome to be a part of something so great. As a Canadian, I look forward to doing whatever it takes to seal me being a. Canadian and the attributes, contributions, volunteer work. Looking forward to it."
Sashé confirmed her husband's thoughts and described it as an "Ah-ha Moment."
"This journey has been a long one for us. We've been here for nine years. We've looked forward to becoming citizens for the longest while. We should have during COVID. We have 5-year-old triplets. They were born in Canada, so we're the only ones and now we feel now Canadian."
Regional Connections Executive Director Steve Reynolds spoke from a settlement perspective, an organization that helps prepare people for citizenship by giving them the tools and support to achieve this important goal.
"A lot of newcomers and clients we talk to value so much the opportunity to come to a ceremony in person, shake the mayor's hand, shake the hand of dignitaries, get a certificate, and be part of a ceremony. Even the formality is a high cultural value in a lot of cultures and a lot of them where people don't get an opportunity to meet the mayor or meet officials. To have everybody come together in person and welcome new Canadians to Canada is very meaningful for a lot of people. So, it's really wonderful when it can happen locally."
Reynolds said people cry happy tears at these ceremonies, noting the journey for some is long and difficult. They leave their homes and come to a new country, often learning a new language and culture. This accomplishment is a result of a lot of work, effort and time.