'We feel part of the country': New Canadians share their journeys at citizenship ceremony

After fleeing Iraq and then Syria, Lamia Al-Qaysi is proud to call Canada home.

50 people gained their citizenship Wednesday

Father-daughter duo Antony and Onye Njoku, originally from Nigeria, celebrate their newly-minted Canadian citizenship with a selfie. (Joe McDonald/CBC )

After fleeing Iraq and then Syria, Lamia Al-Qaysi is proud to call Canada home.

Al-Qaysi was one of 50 people to get their Canadian citizenship Wednesday during a ceremony at the Multicultural Association of Fredericton's Wellness Centre.

She and her family arrived in New Brunswick five years ago.

But getting here was a long and trechourous journey.

Lamia Al-Qaysi and her family came to New Brunswick from Syria, but are originally from Iraq. (Joe McDonald/CBC )

They left Iraq for Syria following the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, hoping Syria would be a safer place for them, she said.

When that country also became plagued by conflict, they had to find another home, she said.

Her brother-in-law had lived in New Brunswick for 35 years, and told them to come to Canada.

"We couldn't find a better home than Canada," she said.

Hercaule Bunsana has been waiting for five years to get his Canadian citizenship. (Joe McDonald/CBC )

Hercaule Bunsana has been waiting for five years to become a Canadian citizen.

He and his family came to New Brunswick from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and chose the province because it is bilingual. 

"I feel great, because this has been a long way to go. We feel part of the country," he said.

"We are here to contribute to this country, as people have worked hard for this country to be what it is today. We should honour them by doing the same."

Jenny Strelkov is originally from the Ukraine. (Joe McDonald/CBC)

Jenny Strelkov decided to leave the Ukraine for Canada in 2009 to find a safer place to live for her and her son.

"I decided on Canada because it is a very, very good country, almost best in the world."

She and her son gained their citizenships Wednesday.

Wednesday's festivities also include a round table discussion to give participants an opportunity to discuss what becoming a citizen means to them.

Under Canadian law, a person must reside in the country between three to five years before they can become a citizen.