Ladha: I’m horrified by the suggestion of cancelling in-person citizenship ceremonies

Shortened version by Ladha getting wider circulation:

Citizenship ceremonies are emotional and personal experiences, especially for those of us who had the privilege of participating in one. The Department of Citizenship and Immigration is contemplating an end in-person citizenship ceremonies in favour of a “secure online solution.”

I still remember the citizenship ceremony that I had to attend when I proudly became a Canadian citizen in 1975. I was with my wife and son, all dressed up in our finest (Hugo Boss suit for me), lined up with new Canadians of all backgrounds, happily showing off the Canadian flags.

When the time came to sing the newly memorized national anthem, I was so emotional that my eyes welled up with tears. Every Canada Day, I still have visions of my heartbreaking citizenship ceremony experience.

I am horrified the government is proposing to abolish this special welcoming in-person citizenship ceremonies with an administrative online box and do away with a group singing “O Canada.”

The fact that Canada, the most friendly and welcoming nation in the world, would resort to a computer-oriented system to announce its citizens is appalling. Ceremonies in everyone’s life, be it a birthday or a retirement party, play an important part, signifying milestones in their lives.

A former minister of immigration under then Prime Minister Jean Chretien was so upset that he wrote an op-ed for this newspaper, calling it “an insult.” “For years, my parents would recount how momentous and meaningful (the ceremony) was. Why would government want to rob future citizens of this feeling of attachment?”

Another prominent defender, former Gov. Gen. Adrienne Clarkson, also a former refugee and presided over a few citizenship ceremonies herself as an Officer of the Order of Canada, said she was “horrified” by the proposed change.

Tareq Hadhad, a Syrian refugee famous for founding the Nova Scotia-based chocolatier Peace by Chocolate, described Canadian citizenship ceremonies as “the magical rituals that bring together everyone (new and old citizens) to celebrate the true meaning of the Canadian dream.”

Source: I’m horrified by the suggestion of cancelling in-person citizenship ceremonies

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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