A bunch of proud new Canadians are waving their red and white flags after taking the Oath of Citizenship this week in Kelowna.
A total of 65 local residents became official Canadian citizens on Wednesday at a joy-filled ceremony held at the Rotary Centre of the Arts.
Judge Gerald Pash, Kelowna mayor Colin Basran, MP Dan Albas and representatives from MP Steven Fuhr's and Premier Christy Clark's office were on hand to welcome the new Canadians.
“This is one of the most exciting things I can do as a MP, to be here for new Canadians, welcome them,” said Albas. “I was so happy to see so many people take being a Canadian as such a tremendous privilege. It charges me up as a MP, I'll tell you that.”
The Kimpian family has been dreaming of becoming Canadians since their children were born in Hungary more than a decade ago. Seven years ago they began the process, moving to Canada five years ago and becoming Canadian citizens this week.
Josef Kimpian beamed with pride as he looked at his wife and three teenage children.
“Today our dream came true, thanks so much,” said Kimpian. “We wanted to live in a free country, a peaceful country, this was our dream.”
Mirasol Paat moved to Canada 11 years ago from the Phillipines and was overjoyed to finally call herself Canadian.
“It feels so good, I'm Canadian, I'm Canadian,” said Paat as she beamed and shook her flag. “I feel free. I can travel, I have no more worries at all.”
Rose Archibald attended the ceremony via Golden, B.C. She moved to Golden as a young child from Austria and while Canada has been home for more than 63 years, she was never officially a citizen.
“It feels great, it was really emotional,” said Archibald as she took a breath. “It was just so emotional. I didn't think it would be having lived here all my life, but it was very, very nice. It is great to be a Canadian.”
Former Australian Michael Leszczynski moved to Canada in 1998 and posed for photos for his beaming fiancee as he became a citizen.
“Of course I wanted to be a citizen of Canada because it is amazing,” said Leszcynski. “It feels like a heavy weight has been lifted.”
The crowd of about 100 all stood together, current Canadians and brand new, reciting the Oath of Citizenship in both English and French before receiving their proof of citizenship certificates.
Judge Pash presided over the ceremony and had strong words for the new Canadians.
“Yes you can still cheer for the other team at the Olympics, that's allowed,” said Pash with a laugh. “But as of now, no matter who you are, no matter where you came from, no matter how you worship, no matter how you love – you are Canadian. Welcome to the great Canadian family.”
“When someone asks you where your from, what do you say?” asked Pash. “Canada!” shouted the crowd.