Canada Day meant something a little different for a number of people after they officially became Canadian citizens Sunday morning.

At the Alberta Legislature’s bandshell, 60 people representing 20 different countries became Canadians fittingly on the day the country celebrates 151 years since confederation.

The seven members of the von Elling family, who moved to Canada from South Africa a decade ago, were part of the many people who became Canadian citizens.

“It’s definitely exciting to do it as a family; it unites us and makes us stronger, too,” said mother Tracy von Elling.

The family wanted to do it at the same time because it would be a special moment for them. They wanted to, “experience it together. It’s been a long journey.”

When the family moved here von Elling’s daughter Rachel was only 13. She said she feels very fortunate to be able to finally have this moment with her family and the solidified future that comes with it.

“I’ve gone to school here and you know I have all Canadian friends so it’s felt pretty unofficial for a while so it was nice to make it official and take the ceremony today and what a beautiful day to do it too,” Rachel said.

Her mother said they applied for citizenship 15 years ago and had to wait five years to know whether they were accepted.

Not all families are able to come to Canada and become citizens at the same time.

Filsan Ahmed Youssouf said her husband and daughters came to Canada from Djibouti a year before she did, and became Canadians in February.

The separation wasn’t easy on them especially with the current political climate around immigration.

“It’s not easy to hear the things going on [in the U.S.]. You know they separate the kids and parents so it’s so hard. We are proud to be here,” she said.

The family left their jobs in the eastern African country to start a new life in Canada because she said “this is a good place to live.”

“Times are hard [in Africa] so we wanted to come here and start a new life for our children.”

Rachel echoed that sentiment. 

“It’s just such a blessing to be a part of a country that is so accepting and so inclusive of everybody.”

With files from Angela Jung