Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Citizenship Ceremony in Halifax for a very good friend of mine. The experience I felt having been privileged to attend the event has offered me the renewed insight in what I believe it means to be Canadian. Through the induction of 50 new Canadians, I took pause to think what each of their stories was. As I looked at each of their faces, men, women and children of many races, I realized that their journey of getting here is not as easy as we all may think and when they get here, it is not as easy as what they all may think. From my friend’s experience, Canadian immigration was a choice that started with war in his home country and a 3 year wait to apply for citizenship once he landed in Canada. He was a lucky one as far as I can tell from the stories. An application that is accepted and completed in less than one year after the 3 year wait to apply for citizenship is something to celebrate… and celebrate we did!
What about all the others that took their oath on that day? Each has their personal story that brought them to seek Canada as their country of choice. What made them decide to leave their country, their home, their families and friends, to venture to a new country where their native language would seldom be spoken and a new language, the hardest to master, would be evaluated before they would be accepted for citizenship? I am sure most of the stories would be concerning if they were our own.
For many of us we could never imagine uprooting from our country to emigrate to another. After all, we live in Canada, one of the most desired countries in the world. But these new Canadians, they have come, leaving behind their lives and sometimes loved ones on desire for a better life that Canada offers. Why? Canada offers the ability to take a chance to make life better.
That day I witnessed hopeful faces that have been given their chance for what many of us take for granted in our rights and freedoms. On that day, I stood among men, women and children that were so proud of their Canadian lapel pins, Canadian flags and their Citizenship Certificates that I felt honoured to be in their presence.
That pause I took makes me sure that every chance I have to meet a new Canadian, I will not think of them as an immigrant. I will think of them as a person that chose Canada for their future and their family’s future, built on hopes and dreams that were coupled with fear of the unknown. Perhaps they have a history that brought them here which may be impossible to understand but you can be sure, I will make them know, I am glad they chose Canada.
What does diversity mean to you? I am sure everyone answers this question differently depending on the context that they are thinking about at the time they are asked. Perhaps answers are influenced depending on the situation a person is experiencing at the time. One thing is we are all express diversity in one way or another. It is our uniqueness that lends itself to creating innovative learning environments. It is Gail’s commitment at the Halifax Chamber of Commerce to bring diversity to the audience in the discussions of business. She challenges you to build a positive business environment by building diversity into your workplace and partnerships.
See how Canadian you are by completing this practice multiple choice test for citizenship. A pass is 75%!
Gail Adams is the Marketing Manager for the Halifax Chamber of Commerce. She oversees the marketing and communications efforts at the Chamber. She also streamlines and is an idea-generator for the Chamber events and the membership engagement strategy. Gail works closely with staff to ensure the Chamber is constantly innovating and contributing to a brighter Halifax as well as providing staff with learning and growth opportunities within their unique roles. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (902) 481-1230.