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By: Alex NikotinaPublished On: October 11, 2016
This year’s Thanksgiving Day marked the beginning of the Canadian Citizenship Week.
The week of October 10 – October 16 is an opportunity for Canadians to reflect on what being a Canadian Citizen means to them. For those who immigrated from another country, it is a chance to reflect on their immigration journey and tell their citizenship story.
Canada has welcomed over 1,500,000 new Canadians in the last 10 years. This year has seen the largest number of newcomers since 1971, and Canada continues to take pride in being welcoming and open to new immigrants.
“In Canada, our diversity is our strength,” shares John McCallum, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship. “We welcome people from around the world to come here, settle, integrate, contribute and become citizens.”
“Citizenship Week is a time for all Canadians to reflect on the rights and responsibilities that we share as Canadians and to celebrate Canada’s vast diversity.”
This year, John McCallum encouraged Canadian citizens to share what being Canadian means to them.
We asked some of our Ashton staff, faculty and alumni this question – and here are their responses!
“For me being Canadian means enjoying the diversity Canada offers and being a citizen of a civilized and respected nation that is very welcoming of people from all sorts of culture and creed,” shares Rica. “I was born in the Philippines. My family and I immigrated to Canada back in 2009 in pursuit of a better lifestyle and future. We put all our hopes and dreams on the forefront when we made a leap of faith to start over in Canada, and I definitely do not regret this decision.”
“The Vietnam War left my parents with nothing. My father was the boat leader at the time and my mother was his right-hand woman; she had to make sure he would not fall asleep while guiding the boat. There were 49 Vietnamese people on his boat, and all of them were in pursuit of the same goal: freedom. They had no food, water, or clothes. As they passed along the coast, they would see a floating body.”
“My parents dedicated their whole lives for me and my siblings, working day and night to make ends meet. This is why I want to help people find a pathway to a better future here in Canada – the same way my family did for me.”
“Canada has always been a land of opportunities in my eyes,” says Amanda. “I was born here, but both of my parents are immigrants: my dad is from Hong Kong, and my mom came to Canada during the Vietnam War. My parents’ journey was not easy, and I am thankful for the sacrifices that they made to come here. Because of their choices, I am able to take advantage of the opportunities that my parents did not have growing up.”
“I was born and raised in Canada, and so was my family,” shares Camille. “I have a strong sense of pride in my country: I enjoy the freedoms that it offers, and I appreciate that I live in a safe, multicultural place.”
“My immigration journey took 5 years,” shares Javara. “I went from Pakistan to the US, and from the US decided to immigrate to Canada. As a single mother of four, I knew I wanted to make the best decisions for my children. I wanted them to be safe, prosperous and happy. It was not an easy journey for me; but I was not afraid to work hard, and I definitely was not ready to give up on my goals.”
“It was the peace-keeping identity and the well-built Canadian government that attracted my husband and I to Canada,” says Nevena. “I came to Canada from the former Yugoslavia. I never thought I would have to immigrate, but the situation in my country made it otherwise. I’ve been in Canada for more than 20 years now, and am proud to call Canada home. Although in a way I will always be connected to my home country through relatives, friends and memories. This is what being Canadian means to me.”
And what is your citizenship story? Feel free to share with us in the comments below!