Soon-to-be Canadian citizens on how Nova Scotia became home
'I love the city so much that I've decided to stay forever,' says Englishman who now lives in Halifax
Canada Day will be particularly special this year for Nova Scotia residents who will finally become citizens of the country they now consider home.
On Saturday, about 100 people will celebrate Canada's 150th birthday by taking the oath of citizenship in Halifax.
CBC Nova Scotia spoke to several people who will be attending the ceremony about how they came to Canada and what it means to become Canadian.
'I felt very welcomed'
After his aunt moved to Halifax for school, Stephen Robinson-Enebeli said his family dreamed of leaving Nigeria and coming to Canada.
Robinson-Enebeli was accepted to St. Mary's University in Halifax and five years ago, he moved to the Nova Scotia capital on his own.
"I felt very welcomed," he said. "Halifax is very, very friendly compared to other provinces."
His family eventually moved to Alberta, but Robinson-Enebeli said he's staying put in the city that has been so welcoming.
"I have seen people who have come over and was like, 'You have such a beautiful smile.' I was like, 'Well thank you.' I feel like that's what made me stay here."
Robinson-Enebeli said he's proud to be getting his Canadian citizenship — and for him, being a Canadian is all about love and diversity.
"I'm joining that community of diversity and being welcomed into a society that makes everyone feel like ... they can accomplish a lot of things despite where they're from. You feel that the sky is just the beginning, not even the limit."
'I followed my heart'
While backpacking in Thailand in 1983, Anne Boyd said she met a man she liked so much that a year later, she left her home in Australia to be with him.
"I followed my heart," she said.
"I followed him to Winnipeg, and I've never looked back since then. Incidentally, he told me that Winnipeg had the most days of sunshine of any Canadian city.
"But what he neglected to say was the majority of those sunshine-filled days were 20 below zero."
The couple has five children together and Boyd has lived in Canada for 34 years. They now live in Antigonish, N.S., where they can be close to family.
But because of Australia's former citizenship rules, becoming a Canadian would have made it more difficult for Boyd to return home to visit and care for her parents.
"Australia didn't allow dual citizenship until about 10 years ago. So I started the process then, but it wasn't until my children got on my back and I retired that I finally lodged my citizenship," said Boyd.
"It's a privilege.... I can now exercise my right to vote and fully participate in the election process, and I can stand proud amongst family and friends as a Canadian."
'I'm finally part of the big Canadian family'
When Haresh Parekh got off the plane from India to Halifax late at night, he said the new city was nerve-racking at first.
He was just 21 years old, arriving alone in a new country to study nursing.
"I did not know anybody, but now I know lots of people," Parekh said with a huge smile.
"It's just mostly the people and the initial beauty that I fell in love with."
Parekh graduated and has been working as a nurse since then.
"Canada has the kindest, beautiful people. I have the most beautiful co-workers as well, professors, everybody," he said.
"People's way of saying thank you and holding the door for you if they're in front of you, I think it's just the most amazing part of being Canadian. You won't see that anywhere else in the world."
Since he moved to Canada 10 years ago, Parekh said he's noticed more immigrants moving to the East Coast instead of just the major cities like Vancouver and Toronto.
And one of those immigrants is his wife, Mansi Parekh, who moved to Canada in October 2014. She is also in the process of getting her Canadian citizenship.
"It was just a long process of time but I knew I was going to be getting the Canadian citizenship," Parekh said, adding it was a proud moment for him.
"It means a big deal to me. I'm finally part of the big Canadian family."
'I've decided to stay forever'
Nine years ago, Dave Johnson moved from his home in England to Calgary in search of mountains and fishing.
But after living in Halifax for three years, he said this is home now.
"I got offered a job here to help build the new shipyard down on Barrington Street and I love the city so much that I've decided to stay forever," he said.
"I think it's a beautiful place. I really love the East Coast people as well. Everyone's really friendly and enthusiastic and easy to get along with."
Johnson said he decided to get his citizenship after he became interested in politics, and wanted to be able to vote.
"I just figured it was time and it was a good thing to have and to feel Canadian," he said.
"I'm very proud to be Canadian."
Saturday's Canada Day citizenship ceremonies begin at 10 a.m. at the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21, and at 3:45 p.m. at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site.