Halton Hills and North Halton newspapers
School plays host as 19 new Canadians are welcomed
Independent & Free Press (Georgetown, ON), 24 Feb 2006, p. 8

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Nineteen new citizens officially became Canadian last week in Halton and they were welcomed by the students and staff of Stewarttown Middle School in a special ceremony. The event was held on National Flag of Canada Day, which has been commemorated since Feb. 15, 1965 when the current red and white flag was first flown over Parliament Hill in Ottawa. Judy Scannell, a teacher at Stewarttown and a member of the North Halton Cultural Awareness Council, thought that instead of holding the ceremony in the usual courtroom-type setting in Hamilton or Mississauga, the school's gymnasium with the entire student body in attendance would make the occasion a little more special for the new citizens. Arrangements were made with the Mississauga office of Citizenship & Immigration Canada to bring the ceremony to Stewarttown, with the intent of providing a learning experience for the students, who were given the opportunity to reaffirm their citizenship in English or French. Several local-area dignitaries were on hand for the ceremony, including local MP Michael Chong, whose father emigrated to Canada from China in 1952. His mother came to this country from Europe in 1960. At a reception in the school's library afterward, the new Canadians, hailing from countries such as Afghanistan, Trinidad & Tobago, Sri Lanka, Ireland, Japan, the U.S., Serbia & Montenegro, Vietnam, the U.K. and Nigeria, spoke of their reasons for wanting to become Canadian. Georgetown resident Laura Williams, minister at the United Church's SalemSandhill Pastoral Charge north of Brampton, moved to the area from the U.S.

Midwest in 1995 and married husband Grant, minister of the St. Andrew's United Church. "It did take a while to get adjusted to Canada even though I really didn't come that far, but as I've lived here for a while now, I've felt more and more at home. It finally became time," said Williams, while toting her 22-month-old daughter Katie. "I wanted to become a citizen so I could sign passports and do other things related to my work, but I also wanted to be a Canadian citizen because I have a little girl and she's Canadian and I thought that it would be nice for the whole family to be Canadian." Elizabeth Carmichael of the North Halton Cultural Awareness Council, which has helped organize similar citizenship ceremonies in the Halton region over the years, said it's typical for immigrants to take some time before they embrace their new citizenship, as they often have strong ties to their place of origin. "Please don't become passive Canadians," she said. "Make an effort to become an active member in your community." Pledging allegiance to the Canadian flag was a proud moment for Adalberto Sanchez and his wife, Yolanda Loyola, who live and work in Milton and have an 18-month-old son, Anthony. "We've been waiting for this for a long time, so it's a very good day," said Sanchez, who came to Canada from Cuba five years ago. "The process is very slow, and it finally happened. We are very happy to be here." Mohammed Nassor came to Canada from the African nation of Tanzania in 2000 to start a new life with wife Tahira and their three children. Canadian winters aside, the machine operator for a Mississauga furniture company said his newly adopted country offers a better future for he and his family. "You meet so many different friendly people here and there are so many more opportunites here with jobs and schooling," Nassor said. "The winters though, are very hard for me to get used to. But this one has been pretty good."

Maher, Eamonn
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Date of Publication:
24 Feb 2006
Personal Name(s):
Roberti, Roberto ; Garrard, Sandy ; Loyola, Yolanda ; Scannell, Judy ; Chong, Michael ; Williams, Laura ; Williams, Grant ; Williams, Katie ; Sanchez, Adalberto ; Carmichael, Elizabeth ; Sanchez, Anthony ; Nassor, Mohammed ; Nassor, Tahira
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Stewarttown Middle School ; North Halton Cultural Awareness Council ; Citizenship & Immigration Canada ; St. Andrew's United Church ; North Halton Cultural Awareness Council
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School plays host as 19 new Canadians are welcomed