Celebrating Canada Day

By , , on February 1, 2014

On the Move

We’re happy to offer to Philippine Canadian Inquirer readers this new column where we bring you up-to-date immigration and citizenship news and information, expert opinions, settlement resources and programs.  Likewise, we’ll feature stories and insights on  new  immigrants’ life journeys and experiences in Canada.

Fittingly, we begin this column with accounts of Canada Day celebration last July 1st.  It was a commemoration of Canada’s 146th year of gaining independence from England. July 1st was a bright and sunny day in Vancouver and Canada Place was where the action was. Thousands of residents and tourists,  many of them wearing Canada’s red and white colours trooped to this mammoth building situated on the Burrard Inlet waterfront of Vancouver. Events organizers and volunteers gave away  miniature Canadian flags, of which many a women used as adornment on their hair. People gamely sported red maple leaf washable  tattoos on their faces. It was definitely a day and night of fun with  featured musical performances, sports shows, exhibits and from Canada’s army, navy and air forces; the Canada Day parade and the fireworks display.

Citizenship Ceremony

The special part of the annual celebration was the Citizenship Ceremony  where  60 new Canadians, representing 30 countries, were granted citizenship, joined by participants who reaffirmed their citizenship in this heart-warming ceremony.  The Citizenship ceremony  is the final step in becoming a Canadian citizen, during which the candidates take an oath, accept the rights and  responsibilities of Canadian citizenship and receive their citizenship certificates. A permanent resident may be eligible for citizenship if he has  lived in Canada for at least three years (1,045 days) out of 4 years immediately before filing the application.

Citizenship Judge Roy Wong, appointed Citizenship Judge for Vancouver in October 2012, presided over the ceremony and oath- taking. In his speech, delivered alternately in Canada’s official languages- English and French, he welcomed the participants to the Canadian family, asking them why it was that they chose Canada.  He cited some of the guarantees of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedom  and  said that, “ at the heart of Canadian citizenship is the willingness to reach out to others  and this is seen in one’s commitment to volunteerism, the way we pull together in times of disasters and tragedies.” Indeed, volunteerism is one of the  treasured Canadian values and this is reflected in the way it was a recurring theme in the other speakers’ speeches which also reminded Canadians of how blessed they are to live in one of the freest and blessed countries in the world.

Mr. Jason Kenney, Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism,  in a statement issued on Canada Day, said: “On this special day, we celebrate what it means to be Canadian by reflecting on our history, symbols, and institutions – those that define us as Canadians. We also acknowledge our shared rights and responsibilities as citizens.”  

To welcome them into the Canadian Family, the 60 new Canadians received gifts of cultural access passes which allow  the recipient  special access to  museums and historic sites and places for one year and discount on travels within Canada.

A Filipino Family’s Reunification

For Francisco and Jocelyn Panganiban and their two children, Gloriel, 13 and Francis,10, who came to Canada in 2007, last July 1st will always standout as a very memorable day in their lives. That was when they took the final step in becoming Canadian citizens by participating in the citizenship ceremony held on Canada Day’s 146th year at Canada Place.

The family who hailed from Imus, Cavite first settled in Kamloops and then moved to Vancouver last year where they found the weather to be much better. In the Philippines, Francisco’s work as a draftsman for an international company doing glass wall façade had him being deployed  to other parts of the world such as Dubai, Taiwan, Greece and Croatia, leaving behind his family in the Philippines. Jocelyn, who worked as a secretary for the same company, was worried that the children were growing up without seeing much of their father. In fact, when their youngest, Francis was born, Francisco was assigned in Dubai. She thus, welcomed it when Francisco had a chance to move to a new company to work in Canada as a federal skilled worker in March 2007 as she and their two young children were able to join him immediately in August 2007 as landed immigrants. Since then, they’ve been bonding as a family and raising the kids together, something they were not able to do in the Philippines.

The family submitted their application for Canadian citizenship in December 2011 and feel that the wait was all worth it. Jocelyn, who now works as a cashier at the Real Canadian Superstore in Metrotown said she is very happy to be a Canadian, especially for her children, who have all the opportunities to develop their talents and skills. She believes that one of the advantages of having a Canadian passport is being able to travel with ease to other countries.

Federal Skilled Worker Program

Like Francisco, foreign workers could become a permanent resident of Canada  by applying under the Federal Skilled Worker Program. On May 4, 2013, the new and improved  program opened with a list of 24 occupations, most of which are for engineers and technologists,  with an overall cap of 5,000 new applications until April 30, 2014, with a sub-cap of 300 applications in each of the 24 occupations. New applicants should meet the minimum language threshold and have an educational  credential assessment prior to applying.

Questions on immigration and citizenship? Ask Grace and Leo by sending your email at onthemovecolumn@gmail.com. Select questions are answered on this column.

Grace and Leo are both Regulated Immigration Consultants and members of the Immigration Consultants of Canada Regulatory Council.