The theatre at Reynolds-Alberta Museum was a scene of a formal ceremony that was filled with emotional faces and happy tears. On June 6th, 2014 the facility was a collage of diverse face types and colors, a variety of first languages and participants of all ages. But the entire audience had one trait in common; all the faces displayed gratitude and happiness. Forty-one immigrants had earned the right and privilege to participate in the final step in becoming a Canadian citizen, the citizenship ceremony.
“After a long journey, on the 6th of June 2014, I finally became a new Canadian citizen”, described one of the candidates, Katembo Eugene Mango exhibiting a great deal of satisfaction in his voice.
He was one of forty-one participants who participated in the ceremony where the Clerk introduced, and then formally stated that the candidates have qualified for Canadian citizenship. The judge, presiding over the ceremony advised the candidates of duties and responsibilities necessary with being a Canadian citizen. (although all of them had already studied and been tested on this and also required to demonstrate their ability to communicate in the English or French language). This was closely followed by having the participants stand, raise their right arm and pledge the oath of citizenship; “I swear (or 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 fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”
These are very serious words for someone who has entered Canada on one of a variety of visas and spent years moving through the often complicated process of achieving citizenship. These people have a humble understanding of the importance of what it takes and what is required to become a citizen of Canada.
At the conclusion of the formal ceremony, it was obvious all of the candidates, their families and their friends were proud of the official new status as Canadian citizens.
“I came to Canada 5 years ago from Congo Democratic”, continued Mango with his wife and 2 young children by his side. “Before applying for the Canadian citizenship, I had already left Canada twice for 60 days. I sent my citizenship application in August 11, 2011; I was called to write the citizenship test in December12, 2012, but because of going back twice in Uganda, I had to complete a questionnaire to explain the reason why I left Canada. The citizenship judge wanted to determine whether I meet the residence requirement of which the response delayed for 18 months.”
That day in the Reynolds Alberta Museum following the Citizenship Ceremony, new Canadian, Katembo Eugene Mango emotionally shared a message for all of us to think about. “Today, my beautiful wife, my two kids and I, are proud to live in a land of opportunity whereby everyone gets a good education and a job. In fact, Canada has changed my family’s life. As a new Canadian citizen, Canada is my new home, a home to my entire family. “Each-and-every new Canadian exhibited their pride of achieving the new official status as Canadian citizens and it was very evident each-and-every-one of them cherished this earned privilege.
The procession was ‘piped’ into the RAM theatre as part of the formal procession while members of the Wetaskiwin Royal Canadian Legion ‘presented the colors’ as they marched to the stage and placed the flags in appropriate holders. The RCMP officer dressed in ceremonial scarlet serge tunic oversaw the ceremony.
The dignitaries selected to bring greetings and observe the ceremony included Mayor Bill Elliot, MP Blaine Calkins Manager, RAM Director Noel Ratch and a representative of the Canadian Armed Forces. It was a moment of reflection by all as they shared personal information related to immigration.
The ceremony ended as each candidate proceeded to the front of the room to receive their coveted and treasured citizenship certificate and received a warm welcome as new Canadian citizens from the dignitaries and the audience.
Canada has a long and successful history of welcoming newcomers to our country. Regardless of our backgrounds, we have become a great country by working together with all other Canadians to build a better and stronger Canada.