On July 16, 2010 a group of 29 immigrants took the oath of citizenship at Chatham courthouse. The ceremony was held by Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and hosted by Cultural Coalition of Chatham-Kent (CCC-K). As the vice president for the board of CCC-K I had the privilege to attend the ceremony. I also volunteered to take pictures and help the new Canadian citizens enjoy their memorable day.
Who Can Become a Canadian Citizen?
A Canadian Permanent Resident may become a Canadian Citizen under certain conditions. Some of the conditions – among others – are as follows.
- In the past 4 years from the date they submit their application they need to be a Canadian resident for at least 3 full years (or rather 1095 days). The days they have spent in jail are not counted toward residency.
- They need to be at least 18 years old. Children under 18 become Canadian citizens upon the citizenship of their parents or they may apply when they turn 18.
- Applicants under 55 need to pass a citizenship test and/or sometimes an interview before a citizenship judge. Those applicants who are 55 years old and over do not need to take the test. The test is about their knowledge of Canada, citizens privileges and responsibilities, and the ability to communicate in English and/or French.
- Those who pass the test or are exempted from the test need to attend a citizenship ceremony and take the oath of citizenship. Everyone who is 14 years old and over needs to take the oath.
These are not the only conditions for becoming a Canadian citizen. Some people are considered citizens at birth and they do not need to go through this process. Click here for more information. You may also visit the CIC website for the latest information and complete instructions on becoming a Canadian Citizen.
The Citizenship Ceremony
The Chatham ceremony which pretty much represents other citizenship ceremonies began with the registration of the applicants. They signed citizenship papers and handed their Permanent Resident cards to CIC employees. The ceremony officially began with opening remarks by the Town Crier (This part was probably unique to Chatham). It then continued with speeches from a CIC officer – who was the coordinator of the ceremony – and the citizenship judge. The next step was taking the oath of citizenship. The new citizens and all other participants recited the oath both in English and French.
The oath of Canadian citizenship in English:
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.
The oath of Canadian citizenship in French:
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.
The oath was followed by speeches from dignitaries including the Chatham-Kent Member of Parliament, Mayor, and Chief of Police. Also a criminal judge, a successful Canadian citizen who is the president for the board of CCC-K and a Canadian veteran delivered short speeches. The citizenship judge handed the Citizenship certificates and Citizenship cards to the new citizens. They were briefly congratulated by the dignitaries and received some presents from Chatham-Kent Mayor and CIC.
The ceremony was followed outside the courtroom in the open space with pieces of a delicious cake, some fresh cherries, and cool fruit punch. The new citizens and their families took pictures with the judge and dignitaries to remember this day in the future years to come.
Relevant topic: Naturalized versus Born Citizen