by Olivia Barrett, Editorial Associate
Friday 12 January 2024
Citizenship Ceremony in Ottawa Welcomes New Canadians
Despite minor technical difficulties, the room filled with applause from friends and family members as 87 individuals from 25 different countries took an oath to become Canadians citizens on the morning of January 12, 2024. From England to the Philippines to several African countries including Nigeria and Zimbabwe, the diversity of individuals and families taking their citizenship oath ranged from around the globe.
Citizenship judge Marie Senécal-Tremblay welcomed the soon-to-be citizenships and their guests while acknowledging that the ceremony was taking place on the traditional territory of the Algonquin nation. She also encouraged them to expand their knowledge on the traditional Indigenous, Inuit or Métis groups whose territory they occupy. “Learning leads us to understanding and understanding leads us to being able to walk together on the path of reconciliation,” said Judge Senécal-Tremblay.
Senécal-Tremblay also welcomed Marie Louise Perron, the knowledge keeper present at the ceremony, with a tabaco offering. During her opening remarks, Knowledge keeper Perron urged attendees to observe and listen to all the creatures around us, adding, “and to learn from all our relations, … not only the two-legged people. All of creation is our relations.”
These sentiments of gratitude and respect in Knowledge keeper Perron’s remarks were later echoed by Senécal-Tremblay. With individuals from all backgrounds taking their oath to become citizenship at the ceremony, Senécal-Tremblay recognized how every person’s reasons and paths towards citizenship in Canada is different, coming with its own slew of obstacles. “We know that we choose a country for many different reasons and there are as many different reasons as there are candidates for citizenship in this ceremony today, so at least 87 different reasons,” Senécal-Tremblay said.
She also praised the resilience and commitment of these individuals, noting that the ceremony celebrated their diverse journeys. Senécal-Tremblay said, “take a moment to salute and recognize the extraordinary courage that lies behind some of your journeys that have led to this so important day.”
“We’re taking a moment out of our busy lives to celebrate and reflect on your becoming part of the fabric that makes up our Canadian identity,” Senécal-Tremblay said. “We’re really building bridges of mutual trust all across the incredibly rich and complex cultural diversity,” she said, adding that the best of cultural values from across the world are woven into Canadian society to enrich it.
As each individual collected their citizenship paper, Senécal-Tremblay and Perron congratulated them on their completion of this journey and wished them well as they embark on their life in Canada.
As the ceremony came to a close, some of Canada’s newest young citizens joined Senécal-Tremblay at the front of the room in an a Capella singing of O Canada; their first time singing the national anthem as Canadian citizens.