The Placentia Bay Cultural Arts Centre hosted a Canadian citizenship ceremony on Friday morning, Aug. 4th, just before the community’s Voices of Placentia Bay Festival.
The ceremony saw a room full of new citizens, family members, and residents of Placentia and surrounding areas, totaling to approximately 100 people.
The new citizens, of which there were approximately 25, were seated at the front of the crowd, and sat patiently as they waited to be named official citizens of Canada.
The ceremony began just before noon, with Placentia Mayor Wayne Power Jr. presenting a welcoming speech to all new citizens at the ceremony.
However, no time was wasted as the citizenship ceremony swiftly got to the matter at hand. Not long after the speeches, new citizens were asked to stand as they proceeded to swear an oath of citizenship to their new home.
Following this, the newly sworn in citizens received individual certificates, commemorating their citizenship.
The Fortuno family, who originate from the Philippines, were four of the new citizens at the ceremony. They received their citizenship certificates as a group – something Roderick Fortuno says was a very proud moment for him and his family.
Roderick moved to Newfoundland back in 2009, taking a job in Bay Bulls as a welder. A few years later in 2012, his wife, Rhona, and their two children followed, finally making the big step from Southeast Asia to Eastern Canada as a family.
On Friday, after spending several years in the country, the Fortunos became citizens of the country they’ve grown to love.
“It’s a very, very big moment for us,” Roderick told The Compass after the ceremony. “This is the future for us. We call Canada home now, and always will.”
Having spent so much time in the country, both Roderick and Rhona admit that although the Philippines will always hold a special place in their heart, they’re excited for the move to Canada, and look forward to the opportunities their new home will bring.
“We haven’t seen as much of Canada as we would like, but hopefully that will change in the future,” said Rhona.
“It’s very beautiful here. Especially here in Newfoundland,” Roderick added.
The Fortunos said they’d like to get the chance to see more of what their new home has to offer, and look forward to what their new citizenship means for them as a family.
Despite the excitement of the day, Roderick also told The Compass that he has, and probably always will, find it difficult being so far from the rest of his family.
“We love it here, of course. We love Canada. But we will miss our family,” he said. “They are so far away now. This is our home, this is where our children will grow up, and this is probably where we will live forever, but we will never forget the people – our family and friends – that still live back in the Philippines.”
When asked how they plan to celebrate their new citizenship, both Rhona and Roderick answered with a single word – party.
The ceremonies came to a close around 1 that afternoon, with the cutting of a cake decorated to look like the Canadian flag, and the singing of the national anthem by the proud new citizens.
“Very few of us share the same path,” said Placentia Mayor Wayne Power Jr., “but we all, as Canadians, share the same future.”