|June 27th, 2012 by Student Vote||Leave Comments »|
It is doubtful that most Canadians would view citizenship as being synonymous with creativity and the arts. Last Thursday, Luminato hosted, in partnership with the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC), a very special citizenship ceremony, affirming 50 immigrants as Canadian citizens for the first time. The initial founders of Luminato, Tony Gagliano and David Pecaut, discerned that the arts was one of the best ways to engage the diverse immigrant cultures which make up Canada’s demographically diverse landscape.
The patriotic stage was set up in Toronto’s David Pecaut Square, on a bright, sunny day. The soon-to-be citizens were inside participating in round-table discussions about their stories, experiences, and what it means to be a citizen of Canada. Each audience member was given a small Canadian flag to be waved; many were present to cheer on neighbours, friends, or strangers, and ready to reaffirm their own citizenship.
The honourary guests were magnificent examples of engaged immigrants and citizens: former Governor General and ICC founder, Adrienne Clarkson gave the opening remarks, and acclaimed Indian-Canadian filmmaker Deepa Mehta gave the congratulatory speech. The presiding officer, whom administered the oath and remarks, was Martin Connell, OC, O.Ont. As a major international philanthropist and a supporter of community activism and engagement, he was an appropriate choice in administering an oath regarding civic rights and responsibilities.
Immigrant culture was highlighted with musical interludes by Soul Influence, an African a capella group. Their rendition of Oh Canada! was sung with cultural flavour, creating a feeling of patriotism, and a sense that Canada is unlike any other country in the world.
The entire ceremony made me think about citizenship and the allegiance we have to our country. The last line of the oath says, “…And fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen;” however, it is not explicitly clear what those duties are.
It certainly is not something that is outlined in first grade along with addition and subtraction. Nor is it outlined as we get older, in high school, or university. So what does citizenship mean? To new Canadians it may mean democracy, freedom, and new opportunities. But what are their rights, duties and responsibilities of those who have always had the opportunities and freedom which Canada provides?
CIVIX is aiming to find out by delving into what young Canadians think and feel about their citizenship in Canada. Stay tuned for more information about CIVIX’s upcoming citizenship programming!
What do you associate with Canadian citizenship?
To see our pictures from the ceremony, click here.
Megan (CIVIX Intern)
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Non-partisan organization engaging young Canadians in the democratic process.
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