Saskatoon ceremony aims to help new Canadians make connections

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WATCH ABOVE: A special day for a group of Saskatchewan residents as they officially become Canadian citizens. Joel Senick reports.

SASKATOON – A national new citizen’s integration charity hopes to increase the number of special ceremonies for those becoming Canadians, according to its volunteer manager who was at one of the events in Saskatoon Monday morning. The Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) helped host a ceremony at Saskatoon’s Police Service headquarters, where 50 people officially become Canadian citizens.

The event gives a voice to those who took part, said Nosheen Warsi, the group’s volunteer manager.

“It represents community, it represents connections, it represents Canada as a whole,” said Warsi after the ceremony concluded Monday.

The ICC organized 40 citizenship ceremonies across Canada last year, according to Warsi. She said the goal is to host 75 this year.

“We want to see more ceremonies, more connections within the community, especially in smaller communities,” said Warsi.

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Monday’s ceremony featured a formal program that included an oath swearing and the national anthem. The new citizens also took part in a traditional First Nations dance, led by Dustin Strongarm.

“It’s important for them to know and understand what we do as a First Nations culture,” said Strongarm.

“I was taught as a young guy that there are people that are going to be coming from all over the world and you know, greet them, greet them with open hands.”

READ MORE: Your Neighbourhood: Early Chinese Canadians in Saskatoon

One of the ceremony’s purposes is to create connections with cultural and institutional groups in the city, according to Warsi.

“We want them to understand that they are in a treaty space, we want that connection with the aboriginal community,” she said.

“We want the connection with the Saskatoon police and the city of Saskatoon to break down some of those preconceived notions that people may already bring with them.”

The citizenship ceremony included 24-year-old Hazel Rivera, who came to Saskatoon from the Philippines in 2011. She said her family now wants to explore what the rest of Canada has to offer.

“It feels so awesome to become … officially part of this very multi cultural country,” said Rivera.

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“My family wanted to travel all around Canada, because we’ve only been to Saskatchewan and Alberta.”