Martin C. Barry
During a citizenship ceremony held at the Patro Le Prevost Centre in Villeray on Oct. 29, 150 recent newcomers to Canada became full-fledged citizens as they took an oath to be loyal to the Queen, while observing the laws of Canada and fulfilling their duties.
Canada’s national anthem, O Canada, was proudly sung in the auditorium inside the centre on Christophe Colomb Blvd. where friends and families of the newest citizens celebrated afterwards. The candidates for citizenship came from eight different countries.
Ex-news anchor as judge
The ceremony was presided by Canadian citizenship judge Simon Durivage, a former French-language television news anchor and member of the Order of Canada. It was hosted by the National Bangladeshi-Canadian Council. Durivage thanked the NBCC for sponsoring the event.
Among the special guests were Giuliana Fumagalli, Mayor of Villeray/Saint-Michel/Parc-Extension, George Guzmas, editor and co-publisher of Nouvelles Parc-Extension News, and Daniel Côté, director of development at the Centre Patro Le Prevost.
Message for new Canadians
“This is so extraordinary to have all the diversity that we have in Canada,” Durivage said in a speech before he administered the citizenship oath. “I’m so pleased by it. And Canada is growing in variety and diversity and that is magnificent. Thank you to you all for having chosen Canada. You could have gone elsewhere, but you chose Canada and that was good.”
The new Canadians recited the following oath: “I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, her heirs and successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada and fulfill my duties as a Canadian citizen.”
Addressing the large crowd, Giuliana Fumagalli said she was moved by the sight of so many people receiving their citizenship all at once. “I can tell you that I am the daughter and grand-daughter of Italian immigrants,” she said, noting she is part of the first generation of her family born in Canada.
“When my grandparents came to this country, it was with tons of hope,” she continued. “I think that you too are coming with all this hope for a better life. As Mr. Durivage was saying earlier, you must never forget where you came from. All your heritage, culture and traditions are what will make Canada even stronger and more beautiful.”
A personal account
For his part, George Guzmas said he first arrived in Canada with his parents on Jan. 1 1970. When he first got off the plane in Montreal, “there was snow up to here,” he said, gesturing. He told his mother he didn’t want to live “in the land of Santa Claus.”
While acknowledging that Canada’s climate is cold, he said the country is still “very warm because all Canadians are very warm and have opened their hands for you to come and become Canadians and you should be proud of it.”
Came to Canada in 1970
Guzmas also recalled that in 1970 when he first arrived, there were four television stations in Montreal: Télé Métropole, CFCF, CBC and Radio-Canada. “So, of course, whenever I would watch TV, who would I see doing the news but Simon Durivage.”
(Durivage, who retired from journalism in 2015 after a 46-year career, was Radio-Canada’s leading news and current affairs journalist from 1968-1997 and then from 2002-2015. He was with TVA from 1997-2002.)
Guzmas urged the new Canadian citizens to always remember their heritage and roots. “But be proud of being Canadian in a country that is open to all religions from all countries with full liberties and freedoms,” he said.