Manitoba

'Viva Canada, Oh Canada': 17 new Canadians get citizenship just in time for 150th

Canada has 17 brand-new citizens in Winnipeg, just in time for its 150th birthday.

Citizenship ceremony at The Forks featured oaths in French, English in honour of St. Jean Baptiste Day

Sebastien De Lazzer moved to Canada from Belgium more than four years ago with his wife and two kids, now six and eight years old. The whole family became citizens at a special ceremony on Saturday, just in time for Canada's 150th birthday. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

Canada has 17 brand-new citizens in Winnipeg, just in time for its 150th birthday.

The group of new Canadians made their citizenship official at a ceremony on Saturday, swearing oaths in both English and French in honour of St. Jean Baptiste Day.

"I'm very happy today, very proud for this day," said Edgar Maurecio, who came to Canada from Ecuador.

"After five years, I'm very happy to become a new Canadian. I give all my best to continue to grow the beautiful country that gives me a lot of things."

Maurecio said the biggest challenge in the move has been improving his English. He found French easier to master because it's closer to Spanish, he said, and he lived in Montreal before arriving in Winnipeg.

Despite harsh winters and the language transition, he said he likes living in Manitoba.

"I want to say, viva Canada, Oh Canada. Very happy [to] become a new Canadian and very happy to [get] Canadian citizen in the anniversary [of] Canada."

Edgar Maurecio moved to Canada five years ago from Ecuador. The winters were tough to get used to, but Maurecio said the bigger challenge is mastering English, although he's comfortable speaking French. (Cliff Simpson/CBC)

'Really special'

The ceremony kicked off at The Forks at 3 p.m. and was hosted by the federal government in partnership with the Société franco-manitobaine.

"Knowing that it's the 150th this year, it's really great. It completes the circle, actually," said Sebastien De Lazzer, who moved to Canada from Belgium 4 ½ years ago with his wife and two children, now six and eight years old.

All four became citizens on Saturday.

"It's hard to describe. It's an achievement, of course," De Lazzer said.

"We came here for the kids, you know, to have a better life for our kids, and because we knew the community, we knew the way of life of Canadians and that's what we wanted to embrace."

De Lazzer said he'll be proud to show his family the national parks in Manitoba when they come visit from Belgium later this year.

"It's really special, 150," he said.​

With files from Cliff Simpson

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