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Fifteen new Canadians sworn in during first on-water citizenship ceremony
Published Tuesday, July 25, 2017 7:08PM CST
Last Updated Tuesday, July 25, 2017 7:23PM CST
The first Canadian citizenship ceremony on water took place Tuesday in Saskatoon. Fifteen immigrants from eight different countries were sworn in as new Canadians on The Prairie Lily on the South Saskatchewan River.
“There’s nothing more Saskatonian than the river and The Prairie Lily,” new Canadian Joanne Buan said aboard the ship.
Staff at the citizenship office in Saskatoon wanted a special and unique citizenship ceremony for Canada 150 and reached out to The Prairie Lily, according to the boat’s owner, Joan Steckhan. She said the company was pleased to be a part of the ceremony.
“This was sort of a way for us to welcome new people using the ship that’s been so welcomed,” Steckhan said.
The ceremony was a little ironic for Buan since she worked as an immigration paralegal for six years in Saskatoon helping others receive Canadian citizenship. She said it’s surreal knowing she’s now a citizen herself and that being a Canadian means honour and pride.
“This is such an accepting and diversified country, which honours multiculturalism,” she said. “I’m so proud to be Canadian now.”
Buan moved to Canada in 2011 and memorized the national anthem at hockey games her fiancé took her to over the years. She now plays underwater hockey herself.
Becoming a Canadian citizen can be a long process — immigrants are typically in Canada for six to eight years before becoming citizens, according to citizenship official Akuokor Ninepence.
She said once an immigrant becomes a Canadian citizen they are able to vote, apply for a Canadian passport and are free to live and work anywhere in the country.
Parkash Vuppalapati has been living in Canada for seven years and said, while he thinks about going on the The Prairie Lily each summer, he never has. He said it was a great opportunity and fantastic moment to be part of the ceremony.
“I know it’s a big achievement for myself, but a great responsibility comes with that, which is what I’m looking forward to — contributing whatever I can for this country” Vuppalapati said.
The new Canadians were encouraged to learn more about and celebrate Canada 150 while still honouring their cultures and traditions.