By Lincoln DePradine
The joy and excitement of becoming new Canadian citizens were expressed in many ways including, the shedding of tears from Brazilian-born Marina Carla Da Silva Manoel; and Grenada-born Jane Braveboy shouting “hallelujah’’, when asked about her feelings on becoming a Canadian citizen.
Braveboy, 73, has been residing in Canada for more than 20 years. She was among 96 people, from 26 countries, who took the oath of Canadian citizenship at a ceremony on February 26 last in Scarborough, hosted by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Tropicana Community Services (TCS) and the Ontario Black History Society (OBHS).
“This is a momentous occasion,’’ said Judge Rochelle Ivri who presided over the ceremony at Tropicana’s Huntingwood Drive headquarters.
Da Silva Manoel, who was accompanied by her 10-year-old son Noah, said it took her 13 years but she has “finally conquered’’ and achieved her dream of becoming a Canadian citizen.
“I’m very proud,’’ she told The Caribbean Camera.
“My mom has been waiting a long time to get her citizenship,’’ added Noah. “I’m happy for her.’’
The oath of citizenship was taken by nationals originally from Caribbean countries such as Haiti, Jamaica, St Vincent & the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, Guyana, and Trinidad & Tobago.
Others were born in countries such as Nigeria, Liberia, Ethiopia, Botswana, Somalia, Ghana, Zimbabwe, Eritrea, China, Iraq, Iran, India, United States, United Kingdom, and the Philippines.
“It’s a new chapter of life for the family,’’ said Haitian-born Pierre Rudolphe-Henry, who took the citizenship oath together with his wife and son.
The group of 96, from different places and backgrounds, represents a new strand in Canada’s tapestry, “which is now forever more beautiful and more vibrant’’, said TCS executive director Raymund Guiste. “Today, we are all together Canadians.
Lawyer Thora Espinet, vice-president of TCS, reminded the new Canadians that citizenship embodied rights, privileges and responsibilities.
“Please, do not take your Canadian citizenship for granted,’’ she told them.
“Each and every one of you has much to offer and much to receive from this great country.’’
Dorothy Abbott, treasurer of OBHS, suggested that the new citizens’ involvement in the country should include volunteering.
“It’s a way to add to your skills, it’s a way to network with people, it’s a way to meet with people and it’s a way to enjoy what Canada has to offer,’’ Abbott said.
Jamaican-born storyteller Sandra Whiting said the ceremony reminded her of the occasion, more than 40 years ago, when she sworn in as a Canadian citizen.
Canada, she said, while not a “perfect’’ country is “a very special place’’.
“I am honoured to be part of your ceremony,’’ Whiting said.
“The best advice I can give you is to grow where you are planted; and by that I mean become a part pf the society,’’ she added. “Fellow Canadians, welcome to Canada.’’
Judge Ivri, who was born in Canada to Jamaican parents, thanked the 96 new citizens “for choosing Canada and becoming a member of the Canadian family’’.
“Each and every one of you is a valuable member of our Canadian family,’’ said Ivri, a graduate of York University and the University of Windsor.
“I wish all of you much success and a long, peaceful and prosperous life.’’