Iqaluit students learn what it means to be Canadian
“It is pretty amazing how other countries view Canada”
A group of sixth-graders learned about what it means to be a Canadian in a courtroom in Iqaluit on Monday, June 18.
It was there that a group of about 60 kids and their teachers attended a mock citizenship ceremony, to learn what’s involved in becoming a Canadian citizen.
They also heard from three Iqaluit residents who were once newcomers to the country, who spoke about why they value being Canadian.
Mike Wayne, who works at the Nunavut Brewing Company Ltd. was originally from the United States. Rhose Harris-Galia, who has been a nurse in Iqaluit for about 20 years, was originally from the Philippines. And Kearon Nyandoro, who works at Nunavut Housing Corporation, was from Zimbabwe.
Justice Bonnie Tulloch hosted the event, introducing the subject with a story about her own father, an American, who had to go through the application process and testing to become a Canadian citizen.
“I remember how serious he was at making sure he knew what it meant to be Canadian,” Tulloch said.
“He told me often how important it was to him but I didn’t really understand why. I thought it was strange that he needed to apply to become a Canadian. I was already Canadian and I thought he was already Canadian too.”
Tulloch told the students that she was about their age when her father received his Canadian citizenship.
“He said the words of the oath to me because he thought they were very important words. And he told me that now he felt like he belonged in Canada,” Tulloch said.
Tulloch also spoke about the value of the right to vote, “and the right to vote for the person you want to vote for.”
Just before the children got the chance to say their own mock citizenship oaths together, they asked the guest speakers why they had chosen to move to Canada.
Nyandoro told the students what she valued most about Canada is being able to vote in two federal elections, without being intimidated.
“There is a freedom to not be intimidated, to not be scared of having people attack you because of your choices,” Nyandoro said. “So those freedoms alone are great.”
Harris-Galia spoke about how there is no public health insurance in the Philippines, so each time she needed to go to the doctor, she was charged for each item, including basic supplies, from cotton balls to Q-tips.
Wayne said that while travelling abroad, people are noticeably friendlier to him than his American friends.
“It is pretty amazing how other countries view Canada,” Wayne said.