From budding romance to the promise of a new career, some of the country’s newest citizens are celebrating the official start of their new lives in Canada — and remembering the reasons that brought them here.
Tuesday at CBC Edmonton’s Centre Stage, 47 people are officially becoming Canadians, taking their oaths of citizenship at a special ceremony hosted by Radio Active’s Adrienne Pan and Radio-Canada’s Jean-Marie Yambayamba.
Rejo Matthew, who moved from Mumbai, India with his wife and two sons, said Canada represents the promise of a better life.
“I’m so happy to be here,” Matthew said in an interview Tuesday with CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM.
“I think there are many reasons for people to move from different parts of the world to Canada — the better standard of living, a better education system, a better health-care system, the peace and security this country offers — and to me, it’s a mixture of all.”
‘A big change’
Matthew said he initially struggled with culture shock and with Alberta’s cold winters but five years later, Canada feels like home.
“It was a big change. Coming from a city like Mumbai where the population is almost the same as Canada, it’s busy.
“When I first came here, I thought it felt lonely but what I found is that the people are so welcoming, so accommodating and so helpful.”
Barry Greig, from Australia, made Canada his new home after a whirlwind romance with a woman named Sheryl.
“I married a girl from Stony Plain area,” said Grieg, who will also be taking part in Tuesday’s ceremony.
“We met in Fiji on a boat. It was a four-day cruise and we exchanged addresses and this was in the days before email and Facebook and all of that, so it was a handwritten letter a day for a year.”
Eventually, after daily phone calls and months of exchanging letters and cassette tapes by mail, Greig followed his wife-to-be to Canada.
“I came over here and got married the same day as Wayne Gretzky’s wedding — July 16, 1988,” he said.
“I’ve been living here for 30 years as a permanent resident and after much nagging from many people, I decided to get my citizenship.
“I’m not going to lie to you, the first couple months here, I was really, really homesick but now it’s been so long that this is home. This is my home.”