About four weeks before the ceremony we received a letter in the post with the time, date and venue of the big day. This time the venue would be our city's main theatre.
Just as with the Citizenship test, there was little point in turning up early for the citizenship ceremony. But, be on time. The CIC staff only started processing everyone at the exact starting time as mentioned in our citizenship ceremony letter. A table was set up on the foyer of the theatre, with three or so staff behind it. An orderly queue was formed in front of the table and each person was processed in turn. (This is the time you will say goodbye to your guests if you have any.)
All our documents were checked and at this point our Permanent Residency cards were permanently taken from us. We were then given an information pack and a Canadian flag. Then, we were escorted to our pre-assigned seats at the front of the theatre. If you have brought guests with you, they are also shown the way to the main seating area for all guests. Guests are totally separate from those becoming Canadian. They can choose whichever seats they want. Photographs can also be freely taken throughout the citizenship ceremony.
A bit of a heads up, those who are processed first also have the longest sitting and waiting time in the venue. Almost a 40 minute wait at our ceremony! The citizenship ceremony will not begin until everyone has been processed and everyone is in their assigned seats.
Our citizenship ceremony started with a bag piper leading the procession. The procession consisted of citizenship judges, the Mayor, and the MP for the area. Everyone was welcomed. We were instructed to turn off all cellphones. It was also asked that if anyone has small children with them that start to cry, that they please be taken out of the hall to be pacified.
After the speeches from the guest speakers, it was time for taking the Oath. We all had to stand, raise our right hand and repeat after the judge the Oath, sentence by sentence, in English AND in French. Even if you have never spoken a word of French before, you are expected to try. CIC staff walked up and down the aisles ensuring that we were all actually saying the Oaths out loud. Anyone caught not saying the Oath is not allowed to collect their Citizenship certificate.
After the taking of the Oath, row by row we were called up onto the stage to collect our Citizenship certificates. At this stage do check your personal details on the entire certificate, front and back. Each of the ceremony dignitaries then shook our hands and congratulated us. We were then led off of the stage back to our original seats.
The Canadian National Anthem was then sung and we were reminded that this was the first time that we were singing the Anthem as Canadian Citizens. The words for the Anthem are provided in your information pack, if you really need to refer to them!
After the citizenship ceremony we were encouraged to have our photos taken with the judge and dignitaries. All were invited to partake in the refreshments being served in the Foyer. We were also told to wait 2-3 days before submitting our Passport applications, as this is how long it takes for our new details to be entered onto the database.
From the time we arrived to the time we left, the whole occasion lasted just under two hours. In our group of New Canadians, there were 82 people from 31 different originating countries!
On a more personal note...
For most, this type of citizenship ceremony is a once in a lifetime event. Therefore it is a very special day and should be treated as such. I was VERY surprised to see how some of the participants dressed. Shorts and T-shirts for a citizenship ceremony?? Sure do what you want, that is what Canada is all about, but not for me! This was a special event in my life. I wanted to show respect for the great country of which I have chosen to become a citizen. I urge you to make the effort and to dress appropriately for the occasion. The CIC guidelines suggest you wear "business attire" for the ceremony and you will get more out of your special day, if you make it special! One smiling young man even wore a tuxedo, bow tie and really had a sense of occasion. Good for him!
We would like to warmly welcome you in advance, as one of Canada's newest citizens! Welcome!