June 1, 2017 6:44 pm
Updated: June 1, 2017 9:07 pm

Emotional ceremony as Okanagan immigrants take citizenship oath

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German native Olga Heinen and her two young daughters have waited for this moment for five years; joining almost 100 other immigrants at a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Penticton.

“I am so excited and happy,” Heinen said, awaiting to take the citizenship oath.

Olga was a permanent resident before she passed her citizenship test with flying colours.

“I studied very hard for that test and I passed it and I was so happy,” she said.

Her 12-year-old daughter Lena Heinen said Canadians are living up to their kind reputation.

“Some people were sort of mean to me in Germany and so there is a big difference here in Canada, I feel way more welcomed here,” she said.

The young girl anxiously awaited taking the citizenship oath.

“I’m very excited, I can’t even believe that this is real. I’m really excited and I’m really proud of my mom,” she said.

Eighty-nine immigrants from 26 different countries participated in the citizenship ceremony at Penticton’s Cleland Theatre on Thursday.

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Vinod Yadav and his sons from India were among the crowd.

“It’s a powerful moment and emotional because that one day changes your whole life,” Yadav said.

The immigrants will be awarded new rights as Canadian citizens.

“It allows you to be able to vote. After becoming a citizen you can apply for a Canadian passport which allows you to go to more than 100 countries without a visa,” said Tahira Saeed, program manager with the South Okanagan Immigrant and Community Services Society. “It is also a sense of identity.”

The ceremony included reciting the citizenship oath led by Judge Gerald Pash followed by new Canadians receiving a citizenship certificate on stage before the singing of “O Canada.”

The next generation of new Canadians have big plans for the future in the new country they now call home.

“I want to be an astronaut!” said Yadav’s young son when asked what he wants to be when he grows up.

© 2017 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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