We were honored to play a part in the Citizenship Ceremony that took place yesterday here at the Inn in our spectacular Terrace Ballroom. There were 36 candidates representing 14 countries of birth. Prior to the ceremony, the candidates, several members of the Order of Canada, and other members of the community participated in round table discussions about citizenship over lunch.
We talked about what active citizenship means to all of us and it was inspiring to hear everyone’s response. The re-occurring theme at our table was that we should all be proud to be Canadian and with our rights as Canadians comes many responsibilities. We all felt that volunteerism and giving back to our community is each of our responsibility. We also discussed how community is so important for new Canadians to provide support. Just at my table alone, we had 4 countries represented so it was great to hear everyone’s perspective.
Following lunch, family and friends joined the candidates to participate in the actual ceremony. They arrived bearing beautiful flowers and grins from ear to ear – you could just feel the pride in the room! There were also a number of guests including Mayor Fortin, Ms. Carol James, and Ms. Denise Savoie who participated in the day’s events. Retired Chief Superintendent, Mike O’Rielly lead the platform party to the front of the room and the ceremony began with a wonderful tribute to the Retired Chief Superintendent’s incredible service to the country . Judge Gibault spoke from the heart prior to administering the actual oath with the candidates – what a proud Canadian.
I have to say that I surprised myself at how touched I was by the whole experience. As someone who has been born and raised in Canada, I have a tendency to take my opportunities for granted. This was a good reminder that there are people who choose to live in this country for many great reasons and I am lucky to have been born here. It reminded me that I am proud to be Canadian and should not be afraid to show it. Having recently moved to Victoria a few years ago, I have not been as involved in the community as I would have liked. I walked away feeling like I need to be more active, I need to be more proud and I need to tell people about this experience. The group of people involved in the organizing of this event were nothing less than inspirational. I worked closely with Mavis DeGirolamo on the logistics of the day and I continue to be in awe of her contributions to her community and her country. She was part of a large committee that met regularly to plan this event and make it a very special one. Our hats off to everyone involved.
It was a good day – surrounded by good people, doing great things. A good reminder that participating in your community feels great!
Proud to stay different,
Jennifer Charlebois, Senior Event Manager