Rideau Hall, Wednesday, December 9, 2015
It’s a great pleasure to welcome all of you to Rideau Hall. Though you have lived here for years—and are already Canadians in your heart—it is an honour to host you on the day you officially become full-fledged citizens of this great country.
In a few moments, you will take the Oath of Citizenship, completing a long journey that has brought you to this place, to this country, to your adopted communities.
You’ve gathered from 24 different countries around the world. You’re here because all of you, despite your differences in language and culture and background, have one thing in common: you are becoming Canadian citizens.
You will take on the responsibilities of a citizen, and help define what it means to be a Canadian.
You will use the wealth of your knowledge, culture and experiences to make this a better country.
And we need your contributions.
As you know, our country is in the process of welcoming tens of thousands of newcomers from Syria, and I’d like you to think about how your experiences can contribute to their success.
You have been through the process of arrival in a new country and have integrated yourselves into our communities. As such, you hold a unique perspective and can help us with both the challenges and opportunities this brings. I hope that all Canadians will come together to offer what assistance they can.
Last week, we hosted a forum here on welcoming Syrian refugees to Canada, which brought together stakeholders from across the country.
During the forum, Conrad Sauvé, the head of the Canadian Red Cross, mentioned that the refugees in Syria have lost hope. But, he said, we are giving them a chance.
Canada is their new hope.
And as Canadians, we need to recognize and nurture that hope so that those dreams become reality. That is our responsibility as Canadian citizens, and we will accomplish this together.
The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, who is here with us today, delivered the 2014 Massey Lectures, entitled Belonging: The Paradox of Citizenship. She states:
“A society…is an act of communal imagination. And belonging is the outcome of that imaginative act.”
Today, you join our society and add your imagination, creativity, innovation, culture, language, experiences and so much more to ours. And the outcome is not only belonging and citizenship. It’s also strength. You are adding your strength of character and your story of origin to our own, bolstering our country from coast to coast to coast.
In a moment, we will recite the oath together, affirming and reaffirming our commitment to do good things for our neighbours, and to contribute and participate in our democratic institutions.
Let me add one, final thought. This year, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of our Canadian flag, and what an important symbol it has been for our country.
The maple leaf is now your symbol. It represents your values and your home. It represents our diversity and our collective stories. It represents the long road that you have travelled to citizenship.
I look forward to your contributions to Canada and to us all working together to create a smarter, more caring nation.
The Oath of Citizenship you are about to take represents your commitment to do your best for Canada.
As you pronounce the words of the Oath, I urge you to take them to heart and recall them daily throughout your life.
Please repeat after me:
That I will be faithful
And bear true allegiance
To Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second
Queen of Canada
Her Heirs and Successors
And that I will faithfully observe
The laws of Canada
And fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.
Congratulations, you are now Canadian citizens!
Finally, before we end the ceremony, I’d like to thank all those from the Institute for Canadian Citizenship and from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada for helping to make this event possible.
And to all of you joining our Canadian family, thank you for being here and for your continued contributions to our society. I have no doubt that you will accomplish great things.
Welcome, once again, to your new home.