People from 13 countries sang the Canadian anthem for the first time as citizens on Wednesday.
Dalhousie University hosted its first Canadian citizenship ceremony in the atrium of LeMarchant Place.
“We pride ourselves on diversity and inclusion and so to be able to host this kind of event, I think, is very fitting,” said Dalhousie president Richard Florizone, who took part in the ceremony.
Citizenship Judge Ann Janega conducted the ceremony.
“It’s a little bittersweet for me because it’s my last ceremony, at least for a little while,” Janega said in an interview. She estimates she has sworn in between 5,000 and 10,000 people in her time as a citizenship judge.
“I haven’t counted them,” she said. “I feel kind of bad about that. I often wonder if doctors count the babies they deliver.”
The Signal spoke to a few of the new Canadians after the ceremony.
Asif Zaman and his family
Asif Zaman, along with his wife and two kids, has been in Nova Scotia for over four years. They were in England before coming to Canada, and Bangladesh before that.
“I applied as a federal skilled worker and I was granted permanent residency within a year. We moved to Nova Scotia because one of my friends lived here. He helped me settle here and find a new apartment.”
Zaman came to Nova Scotia with a master’s degree in marketing from England. He started out working as a manager at a KFC restaurant and is now working towards receiving his IT diploma at Eastern College.
As for his kids, Zaman said, “they have a better future.”
Sidney Klein is a first-year student at Dalhousie studying management. He arrived in Canada from Brooklyn, New York, in 2008.
Klein missed two opportunities since September to be sworn in as a Canadian citizen. He finally got to do it Wednesday.
“I feel pretty good, it’s been like eight years. This is my third try,” said Klein. “People are like, ‘oh, I’m going to go to the U.S. and make a ton of money’ and I’m like ‘no, I’m going to stay in Canada.’”
Louie Cuarentas and family
The Cuarentas family has been in Nova Scotia since June 2012.
“It was a life-changing decision,” said Louie Cuarentas. “We want something better in our life, especially because we have a son now. We want something better for him — education, things like that.”
Cuarentas and his wife say that there were a lot of documents involved to become Canadian citizens, and it was a difficult process, but worth it. They only had to wait two months after filing their application.
“The moment you swear allegiance to a new country, that means you are kind of leaving your other country, right? So there’s a minor feeling of sadness there, but overall, I’m very happy about it.”
Cuarentas still feels very much Filipino. “Oh, by heart, yes.”