On Wednesday morning 25 immigrants from seven countries entered the gym at St. Patrick’s Catholic High School and by 11 a.m., walked out as Canada’s newest citizens.
The new Canadians smiled wide when they received their official citizenship certificate and a miniature Canadian flag.
The ceremony was officiated by Justice George Springate, Canada’s former senior citizenship judge, who traveled all the way from Ottawa to conduct the ceremony.
“Dreams count,” was Springate’s message to the new Canadians and students in the crowd. “Sometimes you wonder if you are ever going to achieve what you want and sometimes all you have is a dream,” he said.
Mayor Mike Bradley spoke at the ceremony and appeared emotional when remembering the day he became a Canadian.
“It’s a very personal process,” he said. “I have two birthdays. I have July 20th, when I was born in Adelaide, South Australia and I have March 14th, when I became a Canadian. And I don’t forget those two birthdays.”
The ceremony took a unique turn when Kim Colwell, the ceremony’s official clerk, told the audience Springate’s birthday is later this month and asked everyone to sing ‘Happy Birthday’.
As the crowd sang, Springate, who is known for his charismatic speeches, looked sheepish and reserved.
Grade 10 students sat in on the ceremony because it ties in perfectly with the Canadian civics course all tenth graders must study, said Blake Morrison, a civics and law teacher at St. Pat’s.
“All grade 10 teachers have taken a few moments over the last couple weeks to review some of the questions the immigrants had to answer correctly on their citizenship test,” he said. “St. Patrick’s High School is honoured to be hosting such a unique and prestigious event.”
St. Pat’s hosted a similar ceremony in 2014 when almost two dozen people became Canadian citizens.