Canada has 116 new Canadians who took the oath of citizenship at ceremonies in Red Deer on Wednesday.
In the morning, 50 Central Albertans representing 16 countries stood together to recite the citizenship oath. After signing oath documents, they each received their citizenship certificate from Citizenship Judge Joseph Woodward and shook hands with local officials.
The singing of O Canada capped off the formalities.
Charlie Lindsay said he has been in Canada since 2000, but taking part in the ceremony made him feel “the same, but different.”
“It was a little more emotional than I thought. I just thought it would be a fairly dry thing. But it meant more to me than I thought it would,” said Lindsay who used to call Scotland home.
Judge Woodward told the new Canadians that taking part in the citizenship ceremony makes Wednesday one of the most important days of their lives.
“This is one of the very few days that make us who we are. You are becoming a new person, new hopes, new opportunities, new rights and new duties,” said Woodward at the ceremony held at Pidherney Curling Centre and organized by Red Deer and Central Alberta Canadian Citizenship Committee.
Frans Schnetler, who became a citizen along with his wife Marilize, said it would indeed be a day he would always remember.
“It’s sad that we couldn’t share it with more of their family,” said Marilize, of Stettler.
The couple arrived from South Africa 10 years ago for work and safety. Their daughter Monya, 9, and son Theo, were born in Canada.
Marilize said getting a Canadian passport will also make travel easier for her family.
“With a Canadian passport, we can just go,” she said.
Alberto and Jocelyn Agot, who came from the Philippines, were also proud, new Canadians.
Alberto said Canada is a place where people feel accepted and have the chance to succeed if they really strive.
“Everyone is welcome. This is a great place where diversity is being celebrated. I find Canada, especially in Innisfail where I live, is really ideal for a family to live and grow,” Alberto said.
Woodward called Canada “the world’s great experiment” to prove that one country can be built with many cultures.
“Each of you has a unique talent and energy that will enrich our Canada. Our Canada,” Woodward said.
Mayor Tara Veer thanked Canada’s new citizens for taking the oath and inspiring men, women and children around the world who are waiting to call Canada home.
“In our community we are firm believers in the power of words to shape our future for everyone among us, at one time or another, have been disempowered by someone’s careless words, or have been elevated to believe in a more promising future for ourselves because of a well-timed word of empowerment,” Veer said.