Bishop’s hosts cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony

Sherbrooke Record - - FRONT PAGE - By Gor­don Lam­bie

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.”

GOR­DON LAM­BIE

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

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