BY CALEIGH MCLELLAND
From China Town and Little Italy in Toronto, to Kitchener’s annual K-W Multicultural Festival, everyone can see the diversity that exists across Canada.
And while we should be proud to be Canadian every day of the year, Citizenship and Immigration Canada “encourages all Canadians to reflect on the value of citizenship and what it means to be Canadian,” particularly during Canada’s Citizenship Week, which will take place from Oct. 15 – 21.
According to an Oct. 14, 2011 news release entitled, “Celebrating Our Citizenship through Canada’s Citizenship Week 2011,” in 2010, “more than 143,000 newcomers became citizens.”
But the process of becoming a Canadian citizen can be challenging for many, and according to Lucia Harrison, executive director of the Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre (KWMC), there are many obstacles that Canadian newcomers face.
“Some of our services give instant results, and some take a long time,” Harrison said, adding that the ones that take a long time are the most memorable.
An example she gave was a woman who was a victim of domestic violence, with limited language skills, who finds safety and becomes self-sufficient within the community. “Or a foreign-trained teacher, who after 10 years, is now in a classroom. These are the most memorable experiences for me, because the commitment was so huge on their part.”
And these are the people who should feel most proud to say they are Canadian, or that they are working toward becoming Canadian, during Canada’s Citizenship Week.
Syrian-born Nadia Abdul Mohsen, who became a Canadian citizen when she was 16, is one of these people.
“I’m proud to be Canadian in every aspect,” said Abdul Mohsen. “Canada takes care of its citizens and gives them all equal rights.”
Harrison, who was born in Holland, is also a proud Canadian citizen.
“There is nowhere else I would want to live,” she said, adding that Canada can always do better.
And Harrison herself strives to do better each and every day for the people she serves, because working with these people, she said, is what she loves most about her job.
The Kitchener-Waterloo Multicultural Centre, which is located in Kitchener at 102 King St. W., provides services such as settlement counselling, employment services and language interpreter services. There is also staff available to help newcomers fill out necessary documents to prepare them to become Canadian citizens.
A great way to celebrate your citizenship this year would be to donate to the KWMC, or volunteer there assisting newcomers on their journeys to becoming Canadian citizens.
For more information about the centre, visit www.kwmc.on.ca.
Stories written by Canadian citizens born abroad about what Canada means to them, and more information about Canada’s Citizenship Week can be found on the Citizen and Immigration Canada website at www.cic.gc.ca, or on their Facebook and Twitter pages.