|Photo courtesy of L. Hemmes – my photographer for the day 🙂|
It’s rather hard to believe that years of paper work, stress, and waiting are all (nearly) over. I am officially a Canadian citizen. And I have my passport application submitted – the final step in the process.
It’s a rather weird feeling suddenly realising it’s all finally done. The citizenship application process was in itself not in any way as stressful as immigration, but the waiting (oh the waiting!) is so hard. And given that you have no choice over when to appear for your test or your ceremony, it can be a source of worry until you finally get notified.
Flags, Pins and Responsibilities
I was really surprised at how much I enjoyed my ceremony. I expected it to be a bit arbitrary and somewhat bureaucratic, but it was actually rather nice (if a little long). As I have not fled persecution nor left my home country because of disastrous circumstances, experiences, or any other negative reasons, I felt that it would be a pretty standard procedure, even a little cheesy if you will.
After being seated, and receiving a flag, pin and pamphlet (the best part being a year’s Culture Pass – free access to certain cultural sites across the country! awesome!), we were addressed by the officiator, and then the judge came out. She gave a lovely, inspiring speech about our responsibilities as new citizens, about the idea of contributing and not just “plugging in”.
She was a bit heavy handed on the armed forces stuff, and I had to supress a giggle when she went on about how hard the Queen works, but she made one really touching and powerful observation, in particular, that actually choked me up and caused a bit of a tear: she talked about how this was the day we changed our family story, and how future generations would hear the story and wonder about it. I had never thought of it in that way, and it was a really powerful thought. Daunting, and inspiring.
I was all excited to have an opportunity to swear at the Queen, but sadly, we only got to “affirm” that we would be good citizens. How disappointing 🙂 As with the test, we had very little information to prepare us for what the ceremony would entail, and I think quite a few of us were a bit surprised that we had to stand up and say our names one by one, before the oath. I really liked that the judge looked at each person and tried to hear their names. It made it seem a lot less clinical.
We then said the oath in English and French, and lined up in an orderly fashion to get our certificates from the judge. She really was very engaged with everyone, which I think added a great, personal element. As she shook hands with each person, she asked a little about them or made a comment or observation. Personal contact? A human response? What???
And of course, we ended of with a rousing chorus of Oh Canada, that was out of time with the music… Rather weird to think that was the first time I’ve actually sung the anthem. Not nearly as fun as Nkosi Sikelele iAfrica, but definitely shorter 🙂
And that was that.
PS – Of course, I celebrated in proper Canadian/Vancouver fashion afterwards by having lunch with The Husband and my friend at my favourite Mexican vegetarian restaurant…