Opinion | Canada’s citizenship ceremonies aren’t bureaucratic …

More commentary. Haven’t seen any supporting the change apart from some tweets:

Having been born in Canada, I’ve never had to participate in a citizenship ceremony to affirm my Canadianess. I have partaken in the process in other ways. I’ve been privileged to write letters to the government on behalf of friends who were on the path to becoming Canadians. I’ve attended ceremonies both personally and professionally, and always felt proud to have been there to welcome our newest citizens.

So when I read last week that the Department of Citizenship and Immigration was considering moving away from the in-person swearing in as a way to reduce a three-month backlog for ceremonies, I was suitably aghast.

While it may be old-fashioned, there is power in ceremony and in this ceremony in particular. It’s a tangible moment that marks a transition, whether it’s a conversion of convenience or the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. It’s an experience shared with all those who’ve become citizens since 1947. It’s about becoming something new, something different. It’s about belonging, about knowing that Canada can be your home now and forever. You are now a part of Canada, and no one can take that away from you.

I get that it can be inconvenient to take time off work and drag the kids out of school to attend. I get that for some, acquiring Canadian citizenship is no more momentous than buying a new toaster. I get that swearing an oath of citizenship in your living room is no less binding than doing it in a nondescript government office. I get all that, but by ditching the in-person ceremony, something important would be lost — something that a tick box on a computer screen could never replace.

At the ceremony, you’re surrounded by strangers who’ve come to this country from all across the globe. They may be refugees fleeing war. They may be migrants seeking a better life. They may be family members of those already here. It’s entirely possible that the only connection that you have with these people is that you all happened to be in the same room on the same day.

Then something magical happens. You all recite the oath and all become fellow Canadians.

The rituals around becoming a citizen aren’t some bureaucratic nonsense like getting your driver’s licence renewed. They are something with real meaning. It’s meant to be special. It’s meant to be an occasion. It’s meant to shared with the community.

So if the government really wants to clear the backlog, it can do what’s been done in the past — deputize Order of Canada recipients to preside over these ceremonies. Who better to welcome new Canadians to the family than some of our country’s best and brightest?

Source: Opinion | Canada’s citizenship ceremonies aren’t bureaucratic …

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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