“Welcome to the Canadian family.”
As the heartfelt words were spoken, applause rang out through Brock University’s Goodman School of Business Atrium, symbolizing the country’s embrace for its newest citizens.
Nineteen people from eight countries received their Canadian citizenship during a ceremony held on campus Wednesday, Aug. 7 by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
It was a special moment in time for Bincy Thomas, her husband Bimins Kurian and their three children: Cera, 6, and Celesta and Cian, 7.
The family came to Canada from India in 2013 and was thrilled to take this next step in their journey.
“We’ve made a good home for ourselves here,” Thomas said, adding the family settled in Welland and is thankful to have other relatives living in nearby communities.
It was Brock Professor Emerita Dorothy Griffiths (BA ’73), the ceremony’s presiding official, who offered the words of welcome to the newest Canadians after leading them through their Oath of Citizenship.
“It’s such a wonderful joy to be part of a day that is forever going to be in their memory,” said Griffiths, who is also a Brock alumna. “This is the day they joined this country and their dreams officially came true.”
Brock President Gervan Fearon said the University is honoured to be a part of the milestone event in the lives of the new citizens.
“What it means to me to be Canadian is to contribute to the betterment, vitality and interest of other Canadians of this great country and, indeed, humanity,” he said. “I look forward to seeing the outstanding things you’ll do and am honoured to recognize each one of you now as part of the giant mosaic that we call Canada.”
Delivering remarks on behalf of IRCC, St. Catharines MP Chris Bittle told the families that as the country’s newest citizens, they will help to shape “our collective future as a nation.”
“New Canadians strengthen our country in many ways,” he said. “You bring your ideas, experiences, talents, culture and your passion. We welcome everything you have to offer. I have no doubt you will contribute to making canada an even stronger country.”
Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch urged the group to use their experience to help other newcomers ease their transition into the country by working with agencies such as Niagara Folk Arts and the Welland Heritage Council and Multicultural Centre.
“My challenge to you is to go forward and to pay it forward,” he said. “As you become Canadians, do what is probably the most Canadian thing you can possibly do: welcome other people to Canada and volunteer your time.”
The ceremony’s procession also included Amos Key, Jr., Brock’s Vice-Provost, Indigenous Engagement, and veteran John McPhearson, both who offered words of encouragement to the new Canadians.