150 new Canadians welcomed home at Queen's Park ceremony

Residents took the stage at Queen's Park, raising their hands for a formal oath and officially completing a journey that, for some, took years.

Canada welcomed newcomers with a flourish in 55 communities Saturday, holding citizenship ceremonies from Whitehorse to St. John's as part of Canada Day celebrations.

Here in Toronto, 150 residents took the stage at Queen's Park, raising their hands in a formal oath to Queen Elizabeth II and officially completing a journey that, for some, took years.

Some 150 new Canadians celebrated their citizenship — and Canada's 150th birthday — at Queen's Park on Saturday. (John Sandeman/CBC)

Isabel Guarin, her partner and their four children have been here since 2012, and they stood up today to make the move permanent. The group was all smiles after the ceremony.

Isabel Guarin, her partner and four children moved to Canada in 2012 from the Philippines. They became citizens together on Saturday. (John Sandeman/CBC)

Canada beckons those seeking opportunity, said Kathleen Wynne. The Ontario premier was on hand to present certificates and pose for photographs with smiling newcomers.

"Some of us came six generations ago. Some six years ago. And some six minutes ago," she told the crowd. "Except for our Indigenous people, we all came to build something better than we thought we could have where we started."

The country's newest citizens stand with Premier Kathleen Wynne outside the Ontario legislature. (Malone Mullin/CBC)
Canada welcomes roughly a quarter-million immigrants every year, but only a minority apply for citizenship. (John Sandeman/CBC)
Becoming a Canadian means swearing allegiance to the Queen and vowing to fulfil one's duties as a citizen. (John Sandeman/CBC)

That was true for Molood Golab, who, beaming and clutching a red bag containing her citizenship certificate, said she worked hard to make Canada a permanent home for herself and her daughter.

For others, like Abi Shekthanbukasevan, the ceremony was "just a formality."

"I'm relieved that it's over," he said, explaining that his parents moved here from Sri Lanka when he was young. "Been a long time coming. I've lived here basically all my life."

Abi Shekthanbukasevan has been in Canada for so long that the ceremony just seemed like a formality. (John Sandeman/CBC)

Michael Litvack didn't take an oath this year, but said he swore allegiance not so long ago.

"I was born here, so I never got to take the oath," Litvack said. A few years ago, he decided to put his hand up during a ceremony and say the words anyway.

Litvack and his wife have been showing up at Queen's Park every Canada Day for the last 14 years. Recently they've brought four-year-old Tal along with them.

Litvack said the citizenship ceremonies are his favourite part, and he even admits to getting "teary-eyed" watching the stage.

"We're building a country. We're the bricks, and all the bricks are different sizes, shapes and colours. But all the bricks are important," he said. "We're all part of the same family." 

Michael and Tal Litvack come out to welcome new citizens every year on Canada Day. (Malone Mullin/CBC)