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
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.”
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.