“It’s like a dream come true to come to this world and come to this stage where everything is equal.”– Sahed Hossain
A theatre filled with 28 people from eight different countries passionately sang the national anthem as Canadian citizens for the first time on Friday.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada and Parks Canada held the citizenship ceremony at the Batoche National Historic Site.
They each held up their right hand in unison before repeating an oath from the Order of Canada’s Jim Miller. One by one, they shook his hand, taking their certificates.
Letisha Nkrumah-Woung said the process of becoming a citizen is lengthy, but worth it.
“(It was) frightening because leaving everything behind in Jamaica, all your family is there and you come here and it’s just me and my husband, but we made it work and we pushed through,” she said.
She’s been living here just short of five years.
Her motivation continues to be her two-year-old daughter, who also attended the ceremony.
“The sky’s the limit for her,” said Nkrumah-Woung. “It’s more diverse here, more culturally diverse, more opportunities education wise.”
She said she hopes to take a trip across the country soon, and especially wants to visit the Maritime provinces.
“Thank you Canada for accepting us,” she emphasized.
Sitting beside Nkrumah-Woung for the ceremony was Sahed Hossain from Bangladesh. He had a bright smile on his face following the ceremony, posing for pictures wearing a navy blue suit.
He’s also been living in Canada for about the past five years.
“It’s feeling like a new beginning. I really like and respect this country,” he said. “It’s like a dream come true to come to this world and come to this stage where everything is equal. That’s what I like the most.”
Hossain said he also wants to travel throughout Canada more. He loves the countryside feeling of Batoche.
Parks Canada’s Adriana Bacheschi quickly became emotional when she congratulated the group.
“I probably got my citizenship about five years ago. I am originally from Brazil. I’ve been in Canada for over 20 years. My family moved here and it’s always very emotional for me to welcome you all.”
Batoche became a national historic site in 1923 as the grounds where Métis leader Louis Riel led the North-West Resistance, she explained.
“I feel that it’s always very fitting to welcome and to have a citizenship ceremony in Batoche because Batoche was a place where people from a different place came, found a new home, settled and then later fought for that home. It is a place of new people making a place their home,” said Bacheschi.
“As Canadians, very few of us really share the same path, but all of us share the same future.”
Miller also shared his family’s history of coming to Canada from Scotland for work opportunities. His grandparents didn’t want their children and grandchildren doing dangerous work in the mines.
He was a history professor at the University of Saskatchewan for over 40 years, teaching his students about the relationship between immigrants and Indigenous people.
“Many of you have travelled far and struggled to make a new home in Canada. Your decision meant adapting to a new culture, a new climate and for most of you, a new language,” he said in his speech.
This year is the 50th anniversary of the Official Languages Act, which gives both English and French equal status in the Government of Canada.