PEI

Newcomer eager to be 'born again' as Canadian citizen on Canada Day

Inan Kucukkaya has always dreamed of becoming a Canadian citizen on Canada Day — and this Sunday, his dream will come true on Prince Edward Island.

'I was always dreaming to get my citizenship on Canada Day'

'I will be born again as a Canadian,' says Inan Kucukkaya, who now calls P.E.I. home. (Sarah Keaveny Vos/CBC)

Inan Kucukkaya has always dreamed of becoming a Canadian citizen on Canada Day — and this Sunday, his dream will come true on Prince Edward Island.

The UPEI PhD student, originally from Istanbul, Turkey, came to Canada in 2010 to study chemistry at the University of British Columbia.

We need to contribute to Canada to make it stronger.— Inan Kucukkaya

"My birthday is on the second of July and the first of July my second birthday will be. So, I will be born again as a Canadian," Kucukkaya said.

'What a wonderful day to be Canadian'

Kucukkaya remembers the day he first landed in Canada on a stormy day in Calgary.

Inan and Victoria Kucukkaya and their daughters visited Lunenburg, N.S., recently. (Submitted by Inan Kucukkaya)

"Everything was white. I saw the Canadian flag and I said, 'Wow I'm in Canada'. I'll never forget that view."

He studied at UBC for two years and met an American professor who was in the process of becoming a Canadian citizen.

"I was always dreaming to get my citizenship on Canada Day because one of my professors at the University of British Columbia got his citizenship on Canada Day and I was impressed," he said. "I said, 'What a wonderful day to be Canadian.' And I'm going to get my citizenship on Canada Day."

Kucukkaya made the move to UPEI in 2012 and met his wife Victoria, a master's student from Guangzhou, China, at a friend's sushi potluck party. The two quickly hit it off — they married and now have two daughters, Aisha, 2, and newborn Gulsah.

'It's a magical Island'

When asked how a Turkish man and a Chinese woman fall in love in Canada's smallest province, Victoria Kucukkaya laughs.

Inan Kucukkaya, left, will become a Canadian citizen on Canada Day and his wife Victoria plans to get her citizenship in 2019. (Sarah Keaveny Vos/CBC)

"It's a magical Island," she said, chuckling. "And our two daughters are born on the Island, they're Islanders."

A few years ago, Kucukkaya applied for permanent resident (PR) status but his application was rejected — he had applied too late. The quota for international PhD students had been filled for the year, he was told. 

"I was about to give up and leave, and one of my professors at UPEI, he supported me," he said. "And my wife — she's always on my side. And I applied again and I got my PR and now I'm getting my citizenship on Canada Day."

Victoria received her permanent resident status last year and is planning to get her Canadian citizenship next year. For now, she is thrilled for her husband.

"I'm so proud of him. He has been dreaming of this."

'Canada will be stronger now'

Kucukkaya has been practising the citizenship oath for months and is looking forward to proudly reciting it alongside his fellow new Canadians on Canada Day.

"A few of us on that day will probably share the same past — but after that day, I believe everybody in that day, we will share the same future. Canada will be stronger now that we will share the same future."

But Kucukkaya is not looking at what he can get from Canada — he is more focused on what he can give to his new country.

"We have responsibilities. We need to contribute to Canada to make it stronger. We will support each other," he said. 

"I want to make my career, raise my kids and after we get old enough, with my wife, we will sit on our deck and enjoy the days."

When asked how he will celebrate his first Canada Day as a Canadian, Kucukkaya's answer was simple.

"I will take my daughter to the fireworks and do a barbecue on my deck. We will celebrate the Canadian way."

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About the Author

Sarah Keaveny-Vos is a P.E.I. native who graduated from the University of King's College in Halifax. N.S., with a Bachelor of Journalism degree. Sarah loves sharing stories of Islanders doing meaningful and inspiring things in their communities. sarah.keaveny-vos@cbc.ca