Citizenship

I had the privilege of attending a friend’s citizenship ceremony yesterday. I’d never attended such an event. It was quite something.

Held in a converted room in Winnipeg’s remarkable union station (undoubtedly a shadow of its former self), I sat among nearly 80 individuals who anxiously awaited the moment when the presiding judge would ask them to recite Canada’s Oath of Citizenship. Doing so would signify an extraordinary transition: from foreigner to local, landed immigrant to citizen. The mood was light, joyous even.

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.

Once recited, each new citizen was invited to receive a certificate marking the occasion and to pose for a photograph with a red-coated Mountie. Kitschy, sure; a special moment for those involved, absolutely.

And so, for a brief moment anyways, I set aside my own views about citizenship, nationalism, Canada, and the myths Canadians tell themselves and honoured my friend and so many like him who, each in their own way and with their own story, chose to call this country home.

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