As Canadians sit down to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with their friends and families, we believe it’s worth noting that a whole new crop of local immigrants will now be able to fully appreciate this longstanding tradition.
As the Sun reported on Friday, 92 people raised their hands and took the oath of citizenship on Thursday morning.
The ceremony, held at Vincent Massey High School, marked an important milestone in the lives of these men and women, who originally hail from 19 different countries.
“I feel great because now I have rights like all Canadians,” said Julia Bonilla, a former Salvadoran who came to Canada in 2005. “Our life is becoming better for us, you can do a lot of things … It feels different and happy.”
Like Julia, Peter and Jane Heath and their four children came to Canada seeking a better life. And so far, it seems, that’s exactly what they found.
“We wanted more space and freedom,” said Peter, who with his wife run a greenhouse and nursery in Rivers. “And better opportunities for the kids.”
“It’s better here for working and living,” said Jane, who plans to go through the citizenship ceremony herself next year. “The schools are excellent … compared to England where the school classes are very large, here they get a lot more attention.”
The majority of Canadians take so much for granted in life. We assume that our kids will get a proper education, that the lights will stay on, that nurses and doctors will do their best for us when and if we fall ill, that we have the freedom to speak our minds, and to associate ourselves with whomever we please.
We are free from war within the boundaries of our provinces and territories. And as much as we differ in our opinions, Canadians in general still retain the ability to disagree peacefully, without taking up arms against our fellow human beings.
We are quite lucky indeed to enjoy the benefits that Canadian society has to offer, though sometimes it takes newcomers who are all too aware of that much of the rest of the world isn’t so lucky, to remind us of that fact.
That doesn’t mean we can’t do better, of course, and that we shouldn’t strive for improvements to society, whether they be for better governance, improved access to health and education, more stringent food inspections and regulations, or better accountability from all levels of government — just to name a few that are top of mind these days.
But these are all first-world problems.
For this weekend, take the time to give thanks for what you have. Just remember, that there are those in this world who would love to have our problems.
For 92 new Canadians, now they do.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition October 6, 2012