Grade 6 student Drayson Collyer smiled as he spoke to a packed gymnasium and congratulated 80 new Canadian citizens at Waverly Park School Thursday. The school played host to the first of two citizenship ceremonies in Brandon this week.
"I am proud to be Canadian," Collyer said. "I love the snow. I love hockey. I love peace, but most of all, I love the people."
Other students were eager to take part in the ceremony and stood proudly next to the new Canadians to repeat the oath of citizenship.
This is the first ceremony that Manitoba’s citizenship judge Jim McCrae has presided over in Brandon. It was made extra special for him to be able to do so in front of some of his grandchildren at their school.
"It’s quite a thrill to have some of your grandkids be a part of this ceremony," said McCrae. "I really can’t think of a better privilege than doing this ceremony with them in my hometown."
One of McCrae’s grandsons was part of the Grade 5-6 choir that performed during the ceremony.
Afterwards, most newly recognized Canadian citizens were smiling as they lined up to take pictures with McCrae and special guests from the Canadian Forces and the RCMP.
"They were real smiles," McCrae said. "For some people coming to Canada and becoming a Canadian citizen is like winning a lottery."
The Abuel family became Canadian citizens Thursday after moving to Brandon from the Philippines five years ago.
"We are very proud to finally say we are Canadian citizens," said the three sisters.
The family of five visited the Philippines two years ago.
"It was different for sure," Julie Abuel said. "Even just looking at it culturally, it was very, very different."
The second citizenship ceremony for Brandon is set for today. Another 100 new Canadians are expected to take the citizenship oath at the ceremony at the Manitoba Summer Fair.
The ceremony will take place at 1 p.m. in the Keystone Centre Amphitheatre.
Brandon Souris Conservative MP Larry Maguire will also attend today’s ceremony. He was represented at Thursday’s event by Cheryl Porter.
"Being a Canadian isn’t just a piece of paper. It is a common set of values. It is having rights and responsibilities," Porter said. "Today, you begin a new chapter of your life. Congratulations."