Reporter-editor Carolina Toca on becoming a Canadian citizen
Oh Canada, I just became one of your citizens. Thank you.
Typically, your editor doesn’t often ask you to write a personal essay of an event in your life. But, it’s not often you become the citizen of an adopted homeland.
As immigrants, life isn’t always easy at first. The immigration process is much more than getting a permanent residence visa.
Learning to live in a new language, adapting to new traditions, a new culture, a new climate (the first winter is brutal), finding a job and friends, can be actually the most challenging parts of the whole process. Then there is the Canadian citizenship test.
People hoping to become citizens must first prove they know about Canada’s history, demographics, geography, politics, elections and symbols. The test is just one of the last steps toward citizenship, and it contains 20 multiple-choice questions. You need to get at least 15 questions correct to pass.
It’s not easiest, but not the hardest. I was able to get a perfect score.
According to the Annual Report to Parliament on Immigration 2017, Canada admitted more than 296,000 new permanent residents in 2016, the highest admissions levels since 2010. Between 2012 and 2016, Canada welcomed almost one million new citizens. The majority of new Canadians came from the Philippines (109,212), India (100,220) and China (73,052).
Soon, we will be more. A new plan by the Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship will settle nearly one million new immigrants will settle in Canada between 2018 and 2020.
Under the plan, 310,000 new permanent residents will settle in 2018, increasing to 330,000 in 2019, and 340,000 in 2020.
In the long immigration process, I cannot even imagine the adversity many aspiring Canadians have had to overcome. Packing your life in a suitcase, leaving your homeland, your family is not as simple as it sounds. Yet through all the challenges, we chose to stay.
Looking back, I want to share why I love living here and being a new Canadian citizen.
Canada is an amazing country in many aspects and now the rest of the world is becoming well aware of that too. In its annual livability ranking report, the Economist Intelligence Unit took a look at 140 cities across the globe, and three Canadian cities, Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver are listed in the top five.
I love being here because I feel Canadians tend to trust, take care and help each other. I think we practice the importance of democracy, of having a voice, and speaking out for others. We may not share the same past, but it feels like we share the same goals for the future.
Canada gave us a future, hope and the ability to choose the life we wanted. I still pinch myself every time I do what I love to do, and I still cannot believe that I am standing here living my dreams.
All of this is possible because we live in a country that values pluralism and diversity.
Canada has its challenges too. For a start, we have to reconcile with Indigenous communities here. And we have to be kind, respectful and loving of one another as the cultural demographics of Canada continue to change.
I believe we can do it.