Bishop’s hosts citizenship ceremony
I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”
Those were the words, solemnly sworn, by 39 new citizens of Canada at a special ceremony in Centennial Theatre at Bishop’s University on Thursday afternoon. Coordinated by The Institute for Canadian Citizenship, a national charity with a focus on encouraging inclusion, connection and active citizenship in the country, the ceremony included not just the traditional swearing-in but also a time of sharing and discussion focused on the question of what it means to be Canadian.
“Today is not simply about Canada accepting you as citizens, it is also about you choosing Canada for yourselves and your families,” said Bishop’s Principal Michael Goldbloom, who presided over the citizenship ceremony. “It is about bringing your skills, talents, experiences, heritages to make this country a better place and hopefully enrich your lives as well.”
Goldbloom told those assembled that the good news is that there is no fixed answer to the question “what is a Canadian?” and that by virtue of receiving their citizenship certificates, they all helped to make the possibilities that much more diverse and exceptional.
“To much of the world the image of a Canadian is someone who is polite to other people, respectful, tolerant, and maybe a little too ready to apologize, even when we don’t have to,” the Principal said with a smile, “but we are more than that.”
Goldbloom identified Canada as a home to people from all over the world, and a place where celebrations and traditions from different places are shared and celebrated as something that enriches society as a whole.
“Apart from our indigenous people, who lived here for many centuries before colonization, we are all immigrants or their descendents,” he said.
Those who made their oaths and walked across the Centennial stage on Thursday came from sixteen different countries of origin and, in some cases, spent years on the dream of becoming a Canadian.
Djioguini Djigo shared that he came to Canada in 2009 from Senegal and began work on his citizenship right away. Although focused on his goal with the hope of bringing his wife and family to the country as well, he was forced by illness back to his home country for a time before returning to the work he had started. The second time around, Djigo said that it took three to four years before finally getting the confirmation that he would, indeed, become a Canadian citizen.
“It took a long time, but I am very happy,” he said, explaining that his goal now is just to integrate into Canadian society.
Goldbloom hailed Canada as being more welcoming and more conscious of how immigrants enrich the country now than it has been in the past and encouraged the new citizens to become politically informed and exercise their right to vote.
Asked after the ceremony about the fact that the government elected earlier this week in Quebec ran on a platform that included limiting immigration and banning the wearing of overt religious symbols from the public service, Goldbloom said that he preferred not to turn the conversation of the day to politics. He did state, however, that he felt those gathered for the ceremony were remarkable individuals who are commited to helping to make quebec and Canada a better place.
“You just listen to them and you realize they are going to make great contributions to Canada,” He said. “I meet these people and just think how courageous it is. We are very, very fortunate here in Canada that such exceptional people choose to become a part of our country.”
Vincent Courchesne of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police with new Canadian citizen Djioguini Djigo, Bishop's University Principal Michael Goldbloom, and Richard O'bomsawin, Chief of the Odanak Band Council at Thursday's Citizenship Ceremony