1947: The first officially Canadian citizens
• Before the act, citizenship was governed by multiple pieces of legislation: the Immigration Act of 1910, the Naturalization Act of 1914 and the Canadian Nationals Act of 1921.
• The new act granted all citizens automatic right of entry into Canada, and treated married women as independent from their husbands.
• The Citizenship Act provided for the conferring of citizenship on all Canadians, regardless of whether or not they were born in Canada. It made Canada the first Commonwealth country to create its own citizenship separate from Great Britain.
• On Jan. 3, 1947 the first 26 people were presented with Canadian citizenship certificates. They included Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King (who received certificate number 0001) and photographer Yousuf Karsh.
• This photo is from the first official Canadian citizenship ceremony at the Supreme Court building on Jan. 3, 1947. They are: (Front, L-R:) Naif Azar from Palestine, Jerzy Meier from Poland, Louis Brodbeck from Switzerland, Joachim Hellmen from Germany, Jacko Hrushkowsky from Russia, Anton Justinik from Yugoslavia. (Back, L-R:) Zigurd Larsen from Norway, Sgt. Maurice Labrosse from Canada, Joseph Litvinchuk from Romania, Mrs. Labrosse from Scotland, Nestor Rakowitza from Romania, Yousuf Karsh from Armenia, Helen Sawicka from Poland.
• A second citizenship act became law in 1977. It took a more liberal view of citizenship as a right rather than a privilege. It reduced the number of years people had to live in Canada before they could become citizens, removed restrictions on dual citizenship and ended preferential treatment for British subjects.
• A new citizenship act was tabled on Oct. 31, 2002. It would modernize the citizenship rules and processes, address "gaps and inconsistencies," and establish "clear, fair and objective criteria for Canadian citizenship." It includes a revised citizenship oath that incorporates the concept of loyalty toward Canada and its democratic values.
Also on January 1: • 1863: U.S. President Abraham Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation, freeing more than three million slaves.
• 1886: The Chinese Immigration Act takes effect, imposing a $50 head tax - later $500 - on each person of Chinese origin entering Canada.
• 1980: 48 New Year's Eve celebrants are killed when fire destroys a club in the northern Quebec mining town of Chapais.
• 1991: The controversial federal goods and services tax (GST) takes effect.
Program: CBC News Roundup
Broadcast Date: Jan. 1, 1947
Guest(s): Blair Fraser
Host: Larry Henderson
Photo: National Archives of Canada, PA-129262
Last updated: March 20, 2013
Page consulted on November 27, 2014
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