Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oh Canada!

Today, we took the oath of Citizenship and became Canadian Citizens! We are official! No longer are we mere permanent residents, but now we are truly and officially Canadians! 

One of our lovely fellow new citizens offered to take this photo of us.

This whole day really surprised me with how BIG it felt, and how emotional it was. Apparently citizenship isn't just this piece of paper. It's....being a part of something. A part of a whole. And it's important. And big. And a really big deal. And today I felt so amazingly proud to be a part of Canada, and a part of the Oath of Citizenship, and just...alive.

It was a long line to get the paperwork sorted  - everyone has to present their PR cards and their landing documents and sign a paper that says we give consent to being photographed. And there were 81 of us today becoming citizens. 81!

Once we were all seated and ready, the clerk told us how the ceremony would go  - how important it was for us to hear everything the judge said - and how we would stand up, say, “I, __our name__,” to the judge, because we were all agreeing to take the oath of citizenship. The judge then spoke about what it means to be a citizen, an how important it is, and a bit about what makes Canada a great country, and what that means to Canadians. He spoke about the aboriginal people and about the men and women who fought to keep Canada a sovereign nation, and how his father died in service to Canada. Tears! It was so beautiful and moving, and with Rememberance Day coming up...oh my goodness. I think he even teared up a little bit, the judge. When it was time to begin the oath, we stood up a row at a time, everyone saying our names individually. I let K know that he didn’t have to say his name, but that he could, and I sort of emphasized that he could - because it was really feeling like a big deal to me, and although I don;t want to coerce him, I do want him to know what he is capable of. I went over with him what to say. See, kids under 11, they don’t have to say or do anything if they don’t want to. And usually in situations, K would feel shy….

But it came to his turn, and he raised his right hand, and he said, “I, (his name),” and looked right at the judge when he said it, and I was SO proud! I got all teary and then almost forgot my own name because I was just beaming that he did it! SO PROUD. And he was proud of himself! Then when everyone had said their names, we all repeated the oath after the judge, in both English AND French, and it was so affirming and moving. And the judge had given such a moving and powerful speech about the responsibilities of being Canadian, it was SO emotional - and I really felt like yes, this isn’t just a piece of paper, much as a wedding ceremony isn’t just a piece of paper - this is symbolic of something big and important and REAL, and my big kid just took full part in it and really participated, and it was just….an amazing day. So you see that photo up there - that is what we all looked like the day we became Canadian Citizens. That is an important photo!

I know this judge must do this ceremony hundreds of times a year, but it felt like THIS was the most important ceremony ever, and it didn’t feel trite or overdone….and he was engaging and moving and I cried so many times as he spoke. And I was reminded of why I love Canada so much, and what I love about its citizens. And I am so, so proud to now be one of its Citizens. What a gift.

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