By Morgan Modjeski
Posted 3 hours ago
Fort McMurray recently welcomed just under 300 new Canadian citizens, as three citizenship ceremonies—two held on Thursday and one today—recently took place here in Wood Buffalo.
The first two ceremonies held on Thursday at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., with 97 individuals taking the oath at the ceremony and 111 individuals taking the oath at the second, were held at Westwood Community High school.
Citizenship Judge Sonia Bitar with Citizenship and Immigration Canada said she's always happy to participate in these events as those becoming Canadians are usually overwhelmed with happiness.
"It's really nice to see their faces, the happiness and the excitement when they're becoming a Canadian Citizen," said Bitar.
She also said that the importance of a diverse community is unmeasurable as it symbolizes what Canada is all about.
"Diversity is so important, and you see it, it's not like you have to talk about it, if you look at this room now, you see how many people are from different cultures," said Bitar.
"Even coming to this school, I was surprised to see the word 'welcome' in all different languages. (When) you look at these students, you can see they are from a diverse background, and all of them working together in harmony. This is what Canada is all about, to accept each other and to respect each other."
Mike Allen, deputy mayor of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo was also on hand at the ceremony to congratulate the new Canadian citizens saying he was excited about the fact they've decided to make Fort McMurray their home.
"We have almost 300 people who have chosen to call Canada and Wood Buffalo home today and tomorrow, and it's a compliment to this community, that out of thousands of jurisdictions that we have across Canada, that you have chosen Wood Buffalo to be your home."
Nargis Zaid, a Wood Buffalo resident and vice-president of Pakistan Canada Association Fort McMurray, was one of the people who participated in the 10 a.m. ceremony on Thursday and she said she was excited about her new citizenship.
"I feel very grateful to be Canadian," said Zaid. "Canada is a fully multicultural country, so I feel very proud and very happy."
She continued, "It feels very good, because I consider Canada as my home, especially Fort McMurray. I feel like (it's) my home country—like my birth country."
Zaid also said she was pleased with the entire ceremony saying she felt very welcome by the municipality.
"I feel like all the councillors cared for me, and it just feels great to be part of the ceremony," said Zaid.
"There was a lot excitement and a lot of cheering."
The third and final ceremony will be held at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre today and roughly 50 people are expected to take the oath.