Home Settlement New Canadian citizens reflect on their journeys of hope and overcoming challenges

New Canadian citizens reflect on their journeys of hope and overcoming challenges

New Canadian citizens reflect on their journeys of hope and overcoming challenges

Gaining Canadian citizenship is a significant milestone in an immigrant, refugee, or international student’s journey in Canada, allowing them to reflect on their experiences and plan for their future. The sentiment of becoming a citizen, however, could vary from one person to the next, depending on their personal journeys that led to this celebratory moment. At a citizenship ceremony at Toronto Newcomer Day 2024, where 49 people from 27 different countries became new citizens of Canada, we asked some what it means to become a Canadian citizen. Here are their stories:

A place to bring up children

Quentelin Vetira was delighted to become a Canadian citizen alongside her son, Himeezembi, both of whom (featured in the top photo) moved to Canada from Namibia about 10 years ago. “It’s been a really long journey for me with plenty of ups and downs,” she said. “I came here to search for a better life for my son and me, and at one point, was so close to being deported. I had to hire Toronto’s best immigration lawyer to help me, and thankfully, all that is now behind us.

To have now gotten this far and become a Canadian citizen is “truly amazing”, said Quentelin. “I have just finished school, and I am now receiving job interviews. I am happy to start working soon and so grateful for Canada for the opportunities it has given us.”

Also read: Immigrants share their firsthand tips for newcomers to Canada

An opportunity to succeed

Daryna Haiduk came to Canada from Ukraine with her family about nine years ago, when she was just 11 years old. For her, becoming a Canadian citizen means having a chance to assimilate into a society that has allowed her and her family to succeed. 

Daryna Haiduk

“I had relatives here and I really love this country. I’ve made so many new friends. I love the people here and the opportunities that this country gives me – incredible,” she exclaimed.

The beginning of Daryna’s journey in Canada, however, was difficult. “My life pretty-much turned upside down when I came here… I got into a school where everyone spoke English and I didn’t speak the language – that was probably the main challenge,” she recalled.

Also read: Sentiments from a citizenship ceremony at Toronto Newcomer Day 2023

A chance to live in a safe environment

Waiting eagerly in line at the citizenship ceremony was Jubulani Patrick Gabera, who came to this country from Zimbabwe 20 years ago along with his mother, seeking safety.

“I was brought here for a better life. When I was young, there were many political problems back home but I was ignorant and not doing my paperwork,” admitted Jubulani, who arrived in Canada at the age of 15 and lived in a youth shelter. He’s grateful to the people there who guided him a lot. “When we first came here, we didn’t speak English, but I think overall, Canadians are welcoming, so that made it easier.”

Jubulani Patrick Gabera

Asked about what he appreciates the most about Canada, Jubulani shared: “It’s the diversity, the freedom of expression, and your ability to move around freely… And, the people here are so friendly!”

Share this article with someone who became a Canadian citizen recently or is eagerly waiting for their turn!

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