New Brunswick

Nothing tops a Canadian welcome

Just in time for Christmas, 48 people received their Canadian citizenship at a ceremony in Dieppe on Monday

Citizenship ceremony in Dieppe welcomes 48 new Canadians

Geraldine Oduoza-Onyewuchi, who is originally from Nigeria, celebrated her Canadian citizenship Monday with husband Rufus Onyewuchi. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

Geraldine Oduoza-Onyewuchi says she felt welcome and honoured Monday as she received her Canadian citizenship at a ceremony in Dieppe.

In all, 48 people became Canadian citizens just in time for Christmas.

Nigerian-born Oduoza-Onyewuchi says the timing couldn't be better.

"In October, when I got a letter to come write my test for citizenship, that's when my excitement started coming," she said.

"I went to Fredericton, wrote the test and was successful and then got a letter to come today. I've been preparing for this day."

New responsibilities

Oduoza-Onyewuchi said she's been to England, Germany and the United States, but nothing topped the immediate welcome she experienced when she came to Canada in 2012.

She lives in Moncton with her husband, Rufus Onyewuchi, an Anglican chaplain at the Moncton Hospital.

And she takes her new status seriously.

"It means a new thing for me — more responsibility," she said. "I volunteer already, but I'm going to continue to do that, always looking out for the next person to see what can you do, how can you help.

"So I will now be an ambassador to the newcomers. When I know where they need help, I'm going to be there for them and just walk them through, like any other Canadian."

From Morocco to Campbellton

It was also an emotional day for Taher Bennani.

He left Morocco and went to Boston to study medicine.

Taher Bennani, originally from Morocco, came to Canada with his Canadian wife, Salima Bouayaz, and is now a doctor in Campbellton. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

Bennani said he couldn't get into the field in the United States, so he and his wife, who is Canadian, came to New Brunswick.

Now, he's a practising doctor in Campbellton.

"It's a big long journey, a lot of challenges, a lot of problems, a lot of difficulties," Bennani said, "But you know what?  It's a good thing for the immigrants — now, this is like the Canadian dream!"

Bennani clutched a small Canadian flag and hugged his wife as the national anthem played during the citizenship ceremony.

"I feel great. I am very, very lucky to be a Canadian." he said. "I lived in three different countries and finally, I said, 'This is the country that I choose, this is where I'm going to be for my life.' And I like to try to volunteer and do a lot of stuff."

A perfect way to wrap up 2016

For Ibis LeBlanc, there was a sense of completion.

Ibis LeBlanc, originally from Honduras, now calls Shediac home. She attended the citizenship ceremony with her family. (Kate Letterick/CBC)

Originally from Honduras, she and her Canadian husband returned to his Shediac home 10 years ago after living in the U.S.

LeBlanc said she has many reasons for making her citizenship official.

"My family, the people, people are — especially in this province — I love the province because they are very welcoming and have been very welcoming to me from the beginning."

LeBlanc said her citizenship was the perfect way to wrap up 2016.

"So close to Christmas it's a great gift, a very good gift." she said.  "I'm able to be part of a community, and I've been willing to do this for a long long time, and now I've been able to do it and I've accomplished that."