With applause, cheers, and ‘O Canada,’ 173 of Canada’s newest citizens were sworn in with a citizenship ceremony at Brandon University’s Healthy Living Centre.
“This a really exciting ceremony for Brandon University to be a part of,” said BU President David Docherty. “International experience and cultural diversity add so much depth and richness to our community. We are so proud that BU is home to so many newcomers, and that we attract so many people who come to BU from outside the country.”
Among the BU connections noted by Docherty were BU employees Angel Nerio Leon and Nicoleta Babutiu. Originally from El Salvador, Nerio Leon came to Canada in 2012 and now works at BU Food Services and became a new Canadian citizen during the ceremony.
“Becoming a Canadian citizen is a wonderful thing, even a blessing from God,” Nerio Leon said before the ceremony. “Canada gives you opportunities, and lets you improve yourself as a person, as a professional.”
He added that it was special to be able to become a citizen at Brandon University.
“It makes me feel so proud to take the oath at BU,” he said. “Brandon University gives opportunities to people coming from different culture, that speak different languages and with different traditions. BU is my place of work, the place where my son and older daughter are studying, a place where they will become professionals.”
Babutiu is a Learning Skills Specialist who often works with International students as they adjust to the campus. She’s also a recent Canadian citizen, having been naturalized last year, and also spoke to welcome the new citizens.
“The people that you meet and that live here — I think this makes Canada great,” she said. “Many people already have in their own family history somebody that was an immigrant. They know how to treat new people, and how to help. Canadians welcome new immigrants but not only welcome, they also do something to help. It is about action, not just words.”
Each new citizen was individually recognized at the ceremony, which was conducted by the federal Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and each received a Canadian flag. The group also heard a video message from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who welcomed them to Canada.
Once all were sworn in, BU student Ram Ignacio led a singing of ‘O Canada.” Ignacio came to Canada with his family from the Philippines in 2013 and they became citizens together about six months ago.
“It is a very special moment,” he said about singing the anthem at a citizenship ceremony. “I feel honoured to give back a little to the country that has given so much to me, and to help celebrate this county.”
Ignacio is going into his third year of vocal performance at the BU School of Music but has his sights set on law school.
“Music has been a passion since I was in the Philippines,” he said, “but my focus is to become an immigration lawyer.” He says the experience of coming to Canada sparked in him a drive to help others who are looking to do the same.
The ceremony concluded with the opportunity for photos and a brief reception.
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