We have been requested to appear at about 8AM tomorrow morning at the Immigration offices in Yaletown where I took the test for citizenship about 2 months ago (I guess this means I passed.) The instructions included what we needed to bring in with us (all previous documents used in the citizenship application we made, any passports — cancelled or not, our card that shows we are permanent residents and a few other documents. Optionally, we can bring a ‘holy book’ of our choosing. Not planning on doing that. We can also choose whether we swear or affirm our citizenship. I don’t believe that there is a legal difference as to which one chooses, but I suppose ‘swearing’ allegiance to the Queen of England is something that some (particularly Americans) are not as keen to do as affirming. I haven’t decided whether I’ll be a swearer or an affirmer, but I’m leaning toward affirmation, all the same. Swearing just sounds too religious for my taste. I’ll see if I can post some photos of the ceremony (one of Pam’s friends is coming to be a witness, of which I’m glad and thankful).
Thoughts that come to mind about this upcoming event: relief that our status will finally be settled once and for all. There’ll be no more worries about renewing Residency Status documents. I also feel excited that I’ll be able to vote, both in the local and federal elections. In fact, I’m thinking that I may volunteer some time working on a campaign again, which is something I did before we left the US. I guess, you can take the boy out of the Country, but you can’t take Politics out of the boy.
Finally, I have a sense of closure and a little pride, that the past 7 years (last week, on the 14th, it was 7 years to the day that we arrived here with nothing but the our laptops on our backs) have meant something, and that I’ll now be able, without equivocation, to call myself a Canadian. Ever since the 2000 US election, I’ve felt embarrassed and even ashamed to call myself an American, a label that I didn’t achieve, but was born into. To be a born white and American in the last or current century, is to be privileged. Not having chosen or even worked for that privilege, I’ve lately felt more than a little uncomfortable with having it. Whether it’s White Man’s Guilt or Blame-America-First or whatever the people on Fox and Friends call it, I never want to have to cringe again when I see someone in a foreign country act like a jerk and just keep my head down, hoping that they don’t hold it against the rest of us as well. Nope, just us Canadians at this table.
I also like Canada, if not Mr. Harper’s Canada (and I’ll work hard to help us return to the Canada we could be, not his greedy and environmentally malfeasant petro-theocracy with nothing but money and power on his mind). I like the Canada of Lester Pearson, Pierre Trudeau, Terry Fox, Glenn Gould, Frank Gehry, William Shatner, Moshe Safdie, Guy Laliberté, Nathan Fillion, Kiefer (and Donald) Sutherland, Douglas Coupland, Marshall McLuhan, Stephen Pinker, David Suzuki, John Kricfalusi, John Byrne, Cory Doctorow and Margaret Atwood…yes, that’s a country I want to be considered a citizen of, even if I wasn’t born there.
Finally, I think it is better to choose one’s country rather than simply wear it, like a red, white and blue birthmark. Many in my family were immigrants who became citizens of a country they weren’t born in, and now, I’m one as well. Tomorrow, I’ll have the papers to prove it.