Former Governor General tells immigrants: 'Make the most of your new home. Become a citizen and participate'

By The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson - Thursday, June 19 2014

Canada welcomes immigrants unlike any other country — with open arms and the understanding that today’s immigrants will become our future citizens.

As my husband John Ralston Saul likes to say, “Canada looks to marry its immigrants, not date them.”

Adrienne Clarkson

Becoming Canadian in Wood Buffalo: This article is part of a series of stories, profiles, photographic essays, blogs and videos documenting the journey undertaken by newcomers to our region.

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Becoming Canadian in Wood Buffalo

Eighty-five per cent of eligible permanent residents become Canadian citizens each year; this is the highest naturalization rate in the world!

This warm welcome comes with an understanding that newcomers will not only become citizens, but will embrace the duties of active, engaged citizenship by voting, respecting and accepting others, giving back to your community — always trying to be, and give, your best self.

This holds true for Fort McMurray; a city that not only makes the most of its talent, but draws the best from all over the world.

Fort McMurray wouldn’t thrive without the skilled labour from Canada’s newcomers, but it’s important our newcomers see themselves as more than economic inputs.

Each new citizen makes our country more diverse, more interesting and more capable.

Fort McMurray has an open and welcoming spirit, and becoming Canadian in Fort McMurray is a critical part of our newcomers’ journey.

My legacy is to create a sense of belonging for all Canadians regardless of whether their family has been here for five years or five generations.

This spirit has come to life in the form of the non-profit I co-founded with John Ralston Saul, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. The ICC helps accelerate new citizens’ integration into Canadian life through original programs like the Cultural Access Pass that provides free access to Canada’s cultural places and spaces. We also celebrate citizenship at compelling community citizenship ceremonies like our annual ceremony at the Oil Sands Discovery Centre organized by our local Fort McMurray volunteer committee.

I encourage all newcomers to live up to the challenge of citizenship and make your full life here. Participate in everything the city has to offer; join our Cultural Access Pass program and visit places like the Fort McMurray Historical Society Heritage Park and the Oil Sands Discovery Centre for free!

It takes courage to start fresh in a new country. I hope your journey has most rewarding ending – becoming a Canadian citizen.

Adrienne Clarkson is the co-founder and co-chair of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. To learn more about the institute, visit its official website or follow it on Twitter.

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