The world envies you this day

“I affirm
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.”

One hundred and four voices, from 23 different countries, became Canadian citizens on Tuesday with the repetition of this citizenship oath.

Dressed in their Sunday best, with friends and relatives in the audience, cameras at the ready, Tuesday afternoon’s session saw 48 people, each with his or her own immigration story, stand to attention, right hand raised and turned forward, eye on the Canadian flag and earn for themselves the coveted citizenship papers that will give them entry to the world.

The ceremony was assisted by Solange Fournier and Glenna Legge from Immigration Canada in Oshawa and Betty Glass from Orillia, and presided over by Barrie’s own Arch Brown. As a recipient of the Order of Canada, Arch (and his Order colleagues) is now presiding over Citizenship Court. This frees up judges for other court procedures. Standing at the ready was RCMP constable Wayne Humby.

Pakistan, Hong Kong, England… new Canadians hailed from here.

To my way of thinking, our newest citizens, who come from all over Simcoe County, couldn’t have a better ambassador to welcome them to their new land.

Guatemala, Ecuador, Hungary, China, Lebanon… from here, too.

Arch introduced those present to Deo Nguyen (fondly called Dee by her customers). “I have invited as my personal guest a person who I believe symbolizes today’s ceremony. Her name is Deo Nguyen and she and her husband were high school teachers in Vietnam. Her husband Lang spent three years in a “Brain Wash Camp”. Along with their one year old daughter (now at Queen’s University and hoping to become a medical doctor) the three came as boat people to Canada. They had only the clothes that were on their backs along with $5. Fortunately, they were sponsored by an Orillia church. That was in 1979. In 1982 they became Canadian citizens.”

Wales, Poland, Jamaica, Yugoslavia, Philippines… and from here.

“Through hard work they were able to put a down payment on the East End Variety Store in Barrie and today it is a thriving business, mainly because of their entrepreneurial skills and the renowned hospitality of Deo and Lang. I drop in for coffee as often as I can.”

Saudi Arabia, Jamaica, Colombia, Syria

As Arch conferred each citizenship upon each recipient, he did so with words that should give us all reason to pause.

The conferring of Canadian citizenship is the highest honour and privilege that Canada bestows upon its people. When people come to Canada, they study, learn and work hard for their right to citizenship. It is a gift Canadians willingly give.

Germany, Ukraine, U.S.A., Ghana, Korea

“Millions of people world wide envy you this day,” said Arch Brown.

He went on to recognize the courage with which many of those present came to Canada… people who have risked their lives to escape, people who have come here to ensure better futures for their children. He paid homage to the challenge of adopting a new culture, a new climate (especially on very snowy Tuesday), a new language and he recognized the difficulty around the decision to call Canada home.

India, Scotland, South Africa, Namibia, Afghanistan

“Canada is founded on tolerance, cooperation and inclusion. We may look different and speak with different accents, but we’re all one human family… all other divisions are artificial. From now on you below to Canada, and Canada embraces you.”

Thanks, Arch.