Special Canada Day for new Canadians
Published Sunday, July 1, 2012 4:36PM MDT Last Updated Sunday, July 1, 2012 6:45PM MDT
Pride filled the rotunda of the Alberta Legislature Sunday as dozens of Edmontonians celebrated Canada’s 145th birthday by officially becoming Canadian citizens.
The citizenship ceremony at the legislature was one of more than 30 held across the country.
It was a ceremony many in attendance have spent years dreaming of.
Sixty people took an oath Sunday to become Canadian citizens.
“We expected something kind of more small, but it was really surprising and were very excited to be there,” said new Canadian Stiliyan Stanchuv. “I feel like crying.”
Stanchuv has lived all over the world including the Middle East, England and the U.S., trying to find the right place to raise a family. He’s originally from Bulgaria and has been in Canada for four years.
“I have a daughter and I just wanted a good family country for her,” Stanchuv said.
“We decided Canada is one of the best in the world so we decided to come here. We’ve been in many places. We’ve seen many places in the world. We decided Canada is the best place for us.”
There was a sense of pride and joy as each new Canadian received their citizenship certificate and were addressed by local dignitaries.
“This is a very special day. It’s a special day for myself because I get to be here and shake the hands of so many new Canadians who have made the choice to make this country their home but also to make this city their home and it is very important for all of us,” said Mayor Stephen Mandel.
“We as a city cannot grow, cannot be the kind of place we want to be without the multi-cultured character that each and every one of you brings to our country and to our city. You’re wonderful people.”
Dale-Marie Cumberbatch moved to Canada from Barbados 16 years ago.
She grew up in Canada, but admits after Sunday’s official ceremony, she truly feels like a Canadian.
“I feel excited. I can vote,” Cumberbatch said with a laugh.
“That’s my main thing, I’m ready to vote. It’s awesome. I feel excited right now.”
More than 1,500 people became Canadians at ceremonies across Canada Sunday.
Nearly 160,000 citizenship certificates are presented each year.
“It’s really great because immigration is the lifeblood of Canada,” said Col.(Ret'd) Donald Ethell, Alberta’s Lt.-Gov.
“If we didn’t have immigration, our country would wither and die. As a Canadian we’ve got to open our arms and welcome them, all colours, all races, whatever. We are a multilingual country and it’s great to see them all here.”
Getting to this day wasn’t an easy task for some of the new Canadians.
The application process can often take years to complete.
“I don’t think people know it takes about a year and a half to get through everything,” Cumberbatch said.
“So to have that piece of paper and taking the oath and standing up there to be a Canadian citizen, it’s just great.”
For Cumberbatch, Stanchuv and the 58 other new Canadians who took part in Sunday’s ceremony, it was well worth the wait.
With files from Amanda Anderson