Canada Day was chosen by more than 2,200 people from 138 countries to become new Canadian citizens at a time when the country’s immigration programme is becoming more efficient.

Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander welcomed some of them in his hometown of Ajax, Ontario, and said that streamlining is allowing more people to achieve their dream of becoming a Canadian citizen faster.


He said that he recognised the hard work, commitment and sacrifices of Canadians who have built, and continue to shape, a nation staunchly committed to democracy, prosperity and lawful peace.

Since 2006, Canada has enjoyed the highest sustained levels of immigration in the nation’s history, with an average of a quarter million newcomers each year. Alexander said the new changes will bring the average processing time for citizenship applications down to under one year, with the current backlog reduced by more than 80% by the end of 2015/2016.

‘For new Canadians, the citizenship ceremony marks their formal entry into the Canadian family. A citizenship ceremony is a unique part of Canadian civic life. It is one of the formal occasions when we reflect on the rights, responsibilities and exceptional privilege of being a Canadian citizen,’ he explained.

‘On behalf of the government of Canada, I would like to congratulate our newest citizens and welcome them to the Canadian family on this special day. Canada Day is a day to reflect upon what it means to be Canadian and to reaffirm our commitment to upholding Canadian values, which have their roots in democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law. It is a day to recognize both the rights and responsibilities of each and every Canadian,’ he added.

Those taking part in ceremonies also spoke about what attracted them to Canada in the first place and what being a citizen means to them.

‘I immigrated because I couldn’t imagine a better place to live. What’s not to like? There is immeasurable beauty in this country, in both the landscape and the people. And, you play hockey,’ said Diane Green who now lives in British Columbia.

Geraldine Buchanan said that she was attracted by nature and Canada’s vast expanses. ‘Canada is such a beautiful country. I’m looking forward to the privilege of enjoying all the freedoms and responsibilities that come with Canadian citizenship,’ she added.

Misty Poitras from Alberta said she feels privileged to be able to call herself Canadian. ‘It’s been a long time coming. I feel lucky to be able to enjoy the freedoms of a citizen. I plan to get involved in the community to my fullest. I would like to volunteer at the immigration office to offer assistance for those on the same path that I just finished. Thank you for this luxury,’ she commented.

Others have been inspired by the process. Jimmy Tablan, now living in Alberta, said he wants to be involved in politics. ‘As a new citizen of Canada, I will continue to volunteer for an advocacy group working for the welfare of people with developmental disabilities. I will also continue my [other] volunteer work, addressing social justice issues locally, nationally, and globally. If given the opportunity, I would also like to be involved in the political field of our country,’ he explained.

Rebekah Steele of Ontario also wants to be able to contribute something to her new country. ‘I believe Canada’s public services and commitment to human rights align with my own values, and I want to contribute in having a positive impact in this country. I enjoy the diversity of people here and look forward to making the most of being part of the mix,’ she said.

Veron Campbell, now living in Ontario, is looking forward to being able to vote, as is Elizabeth Landegger, also from Ontario. ‘I will vote in elections and continue to promote volunteerism, especially through the Canadian Red Cross, as it helps my neighbours, my countrymen, and the vulnerable in Canada and around the world,’ she said.