Yesterday I was able to assist the swearing in of 84 new Canadians under the supervision of Judge Lei here in Calgary. It was my first of such ceremonies, though I have heard from various people and radio stories that they are dramatic and moving, so I was prepared.
Most notable however was the reason I left my messy, half-packed up classroom for the afternoon. My mother who has been living in Canada for exactly 39 years and 8 months was among the new 84 subjects of Queen Elizabeth II. I was lucky enough to be free to attend and was the only friend/family to be there for the event.
There were many people from some 30 countries along with their close ones in the small, heavily Canadian themed courtroom. I found a seat and then mom found me. She recounted in great detail how her morning had passed with all the waiting, the interview, and meeting other citizenship candidates. She also had some pretty swag gear like a big poster of all the provinces and their info.
The ceremony began with the clerk giving us a run down of the event and Judge Lei being ushered in by an RCMP officer. I was very impressed with the judge's remarks on the rights and responsibilities that accompany Canadian citizenship and her reflections on the struggles many of the day's candidates would have experienced to reach this milestone. Her speech heavily accented "Canada" and "Canadian" when they came up. She led in the oath taking in both official languages and we all stood repeating after her raising our right hands:
Je jure (ou j’affirme solennellement) Que je serai fidèle Et porterai sincère allégeance à Sa Majesté la Reine Elizabeth Deux Reine du Canada À ses héritiers et successeurs Que j’observerai fidèlement les lois du Canada Et que je remplirai loyalement mes obligations de citoyen canadien.
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.She presented certificates to each one [pictured]. It was pretty relaxed and she took a couple moments to meet each person and welcome them to citizenship. She led in singing O Canada and invited all the children in the audience to join her up front - this was actually the most emotional for me as it created a picture of Canada with great promise and innocence.
Mom and I walked through downtown and enjoyed a beer before heading back to my place where she enjoyed her first delicious meal as a Canadienne. Amber even made some cool cupcakes with red wine (mom's favorite) in them and little Canadian flags sticking out of them.
Mom left her home in Massachusetts on her 18th birthday early in her senior year of high school to join my father in New Brunswick. She began her family with my birth almost 2 years later, followed by my sisters. She lived in NB, BC, and AB, settling finally in Alberta these past 20 years.
So, welcome to the confederation!
If you want to know more about my mom, check out her brand new blog about being short and cooking healthy food: Life on the Short Side.