It sometimes seems like an eternity ago.
On the 19th of June in 1957, I arrived in Canada with my parents, with not a clue as to what was going on. I had just left behind everything I’d come to know in my four short years – the street I played on, the grandparents that sometimes watched me, the aunts, uncles and cousins I’d grown up with so far – and, like my parents, I couldn’t speak the language.
We weren’t entirely lost, however, because a whole new set of aunts, uncles and cousins that I hadn’t met before would come by and we stayed with one set, and these people would become my new family. But it was still all very new and very strange.
And very large. If you’ve travelled in the old parts of European cities, you may have an inkling of the sudden change when you come back here to open spaces, even in a place like Hamilton, Ontario.
It would all eventually change, of course. We would all learn English, my Dad at work and my Mom where she cleaned house and I from other kids. My parents scrimped and saved that first year so that they could afford to send me to kindergarten for half a year (they were private in those days and not publicly funded) so that I’d be ready for grade one.
I was just over nine years old when, on November 2nd, 1962, I stood with my parents in Citizenship Court in Hamilton to swear my oath of allegiance to Canada and received my Canadian Citizenship.
It’s a feeling that a great any people in Thorold surely felt at one time or another if they came from elsewhere in the world, but one that those born here likely can’t ever understand. It’s like suddenly you belong and you’re no linger different from the all the kids you go to school with. If you’ve ever moved to an entirely new neighbourhood when you were a kid, you have an inkling of the feeling, but only an inkling.
I write this because, for the third straight year, as Thorold’s Official Town Crier, I introduced the Citizenship Ceremony, for second time on Canada Day at the band shell. This time, though, I was asked to take the podium with our MP Malcolm Allen, our Mayor Ted Luciani and veteran representative John Ferguson.
As each new citizen received their citizenship, they came along our line and shook hands with us and all the memories and pride of the occasion came flooding back. It was an honour to be up there, shaking their hands.
It seems that fifty-eight years isn’t such a long time after all.
In case you want to see my cry for this event, here it is: Annual Citizenship Cry .