MORE THAN 60 people from the northwest gathered with family and friends at Northwest Community College June 22 to take their citizenship oaths.
Applause broke out at one point when citizenship judge Robert Douglas Watt asked the audience to vigorously wave the small Canadian flags that had been placed on chairs.
Watt said the citizenship oaths came at a particularly interesting time with recent celebrations in honour of Queen Elizabeth II’s diamond jubilee.
“She’s continuing to serve in the wonderful way she has served for all those years,” said Watt.
And he said 2012 is also significant because it is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812 between Great Britain and the United States.
“It was the last time Canada was ever invaded,” said Watt.
“British troops, First Nations warriors and Canadian volunteers eventually prevailed.”
Watt said Canada then went on to develop a country “founded on the rule of law and respect for others.”
He did remind the new citizens that citizenship is like a coin, there are two sides – rights and responsibilities.
“Both sides are equal in their importance,” said Watt.
One very important feature of Canada is the quality of men and women, the judge continued.
He said a fellow citizenship judge in Vancouver would tell people that Canadian women do not walk behind men.
“They walk beside men. Sometimes they walk in front of men, but they do not walk behind men,” said Watt in quoting the other judge.
Those who took the oath had the option of swearing or affirming. Each pronounced his or her own name with a raised right hand and then took the oath together first in English and then in French under the direction of Watt.
He also invited the audience to renew their citizenships by taking the oath along with the new Canadians.
The official party was made up of Watt, clerk of ceremony Louise Cote-Mandeill who, like Watt, is from the lower mainland, Terrace mayor Dave Pernarowski, wearing his chain of office, and Francoise Godet and Denis Gagne, Terrace assistants for Skeena – Bulkley Valley MP Nathan Cullen and Skeena MLA Robin Austin respectively.
Also in attendance as a member of the official party was Terrace RCMP Constable Angela Rabut dressed in red serge.
Watt serves as a part-time citizenship judge. His past service included being the Chief Herald of Canada, a position that involves approving coats of arms. In that capacity, he accompanied former Governor General Adrienne Clarkson to the Nass Valley to present the Nisga’a Nation with its official badge of the Nisga’a Nation.