Sixty people from 22 countries became Canadian citizens at an emotional ceremony held at Upper Canada College’s Laidlaw Hall on Nov. 22.
Judge Joyce Frustaglio presided over the ceremony, which was the first of its kind held at UCC. It was attended by the new citizens’ friends and family members as well as Intermediate Division students who had a link to it through their studies in Year 1 civics and Year 2 history.
Frustaglio gave introductory remarks and Institute for Canadian Citizenship volunteer committee co-chair for Deer Park Joe Brisbois welcomed the guests of honour. Frustaglio, whose father went through a similar ceremony years ago after he arrived in Canada, addressed the audience and told it that citizenship wasn’t a right, but a privilege. She talked about the work that went into immigrants becoming citizens, invited them to see as much as Canada as possible, and encouraged them to enjoy their freedoms while remembering their rights and responsibilities.
The 60 people were then asked to raise their right hands and give the oath of citizenship, in English and French, repeating these words from Frustaglio:
“I swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”
The new citizens were then called up to the front of the hall one-by-one to receive their certificates of citizenship from Frustaglio, as well as small Canadian flags and lapel pins from Brisbois and UCC dean of students Evan Williams.
UCC principal Jim Power was unable to attend, so Brisbois congratulated the new citizens on his behalf before Frustaglio said how impressed she was with the College and its students during her closing remarks.
The UCC Wind Ensemble performed “As Summer Was Just Beginning” and then “O Canada” to conclude the ceremony. Many of the new citizens marked this very special occasion by having their photos taken with Frustaglio and Brisbois in Laidlaw Hall before everyone was invited to the patriotically decorated student centre for a reception featuring a Canadian flag cake and cupcakes, tea, coffee and songs played by a student jazz combo.
Williams and other staff and faculty members put a lot of behind-the-scenes organizational work into the ceremony, and several students were also integral to roundtable discussions held in the Upper School dining hall before the ceremony. The boys initiated conversations and invited the new citizens to share stories about their lives in their previous countries and their experiences in Canada, which was a valuable learning experience for all involved.
Here are photos of the citizenship ceremony and the reception that followed: