WARM HAMILTON WELCOME

Korean War vet­eran Ed Heat­ley greets new Cana­di­ans Leonardo Mas­sis, mother Joslin, father Alex, brother Rawhy and baby sis­ter Valentina at a cit­i­zen­ship cer­e­mony in Hamilton. The fam­ily from Jor­dan were among 42 peo­ple who took the oath. “One of Canada’s

The Hamilton Spectator - - FRONT PAGE - NATALIE PADDON npad­don@thes­pec.com 905-526-2420 | @NatatTheSpec

At a time when di­vi­sive­ness and un­cer­tainty sur­rounds im­mi­gra­tion across the bor­der, more than 40 peo­ple raised their right hands and took an oath to be­come Cana­dian cit­i­zens in Hamilton Tues­day.

Ab­dul­lah Kad­him, 13, was one of 42 peo­ple from 16 coun­tries at a cer­e­mony at the Fed­eral Build­ing, where new cit­i­zens cel­e­brated the oc­ca­sion sur­rounded by friends, fam­ily and loved ones.

The tim­ing of tak­ing this fi­nal step to be­come a Cana­dian cit­i­zen was not lost on the Oakville teen, who was born in Dubai, but whose fam­ily is from Iraq.

“If we were in the U.S. now, we wouldn’t feel as safe — nowhere near as safe — as here, be­cause of ev­ery­thing hap­pen­ing with Don­ald Trump, with ISIS, with ev­ery­thing,” he said af­ter the cer­e­mony, where his mom and two sib­lings were also sworn in as Cana­dian cit­i­zens.

“We are honoured to be here,” added his 11-year-old brother, Mo­hammed.

It was a sim­i­lar ex­pe­ri­ence for 20year-old Ab­dul­hakim Ab­dul­lah, who moved to Canada from Ye­men in 2011.

“It makes it spe­cial,” said Ab­dul­lah, who has ap­plied to study civil en­gi­neer­ing at McMaster Univer­sity next year. “I’m so ex­cited.”

He was at the cer­e­mony along with pal Mah­mood Saeed, 19, who is also from Ye­men. The two planned to cel­e­brate in Ni­a­gara Falls or Toronto af­ter be­ing sworn in.

In the United States, Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump signed an ex­ec­u­tive or­der on Fri­day, bar­ring cit­i­zens of Iran, Iraq, Su­dan, So­ma­lia, Syria, Ye­men and Libya from en­ter­ing the coun­try for three months. The move has been met with protests and in­ter­na­tional back­lash.

In Canada, the House of Com­mons held an emer­gency de­bate Tues­day evening on the im­pact of the travel and im­mi­gra­tion ban in the U.S. and the ques­tion of what can be done about it.

The de­bate comes af­ter a shoot­ing at­tack at a Que­bec City mosque that killed six and in­jured 19 Sun­day evening — which Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau con­demned as a ter­ror­ist at­tack.

Dr. Alba DiCenso, who presided over the swear­ing-in cer­e­mony, told the group her own story about how her par­ents came to Canada from Italy in the early 1950s, just be­fore she was born.

They came with very lit­tle, she noted — lit­tle money, ed­u­ca­tion or knowl­edge of the English lan­guage.

“Very few of us share the same past, but all of us can share the same fu­ture as Cana­di­ans,” she said, af­ter con­grat­u­lat­ing the group on be­com­ing cit­i­zens. “One of Canada’s most im­por­tant fea­tures is the mul­ti­cul­tur­al­ism.”

Amani Al­farra was over­come with emo­tion as she took the oath. It’s been an al­most decade-long jour­ney since she came to Canada from the Pales­tinian ter­ri­to­ries in 2008, first to Oakville and then to Hamilton.

Her oldest son flew in from Gaza to be here for the cer­e­mony. Al­farra was also joined by her hus­band, their five-year-old son and eightyear-old daugh­ter, who ran up and gave her mom a big hug af­ter she was pre­sented with her cit­i­zen­ship cer­tifi­cate.

“My tears were run­ning, I was so happy,” said Al­farra, who works for the United Na­tions and has a PhD in wa­ter re­source man­age­ment. “It took me a while.”

CATHIE COWARD, THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

CATHIE COWARD, THE HAMILTON SPECTATOR

Ri­tal Alde­hayyat, eight, con­grat­u­lates her mom, Amani Al­farra, af­ter Al­farra re­ceived her Cana­dian cit­i­zen­ship cer­tifi­cate. The Pales­tinian na­tive was among 42 peo­ple who re­ceived their Cana­dian cit­i­zen­ship at the Fed­eral Build­ing Tues­day.

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