A celebration of culture and diversity at Toronto Newcomer Day
May 18, 2017
Monday May 15th marked the City of Toronto’s third annual Newcomer Day. It was a day of celebration and an example of a city coming together to stand up for diversity and commitment to inclusion. This is the second year that the Institute for Canadian Citizenship has proudly partnered with the City of Toronto to include a community citizenship ceremony as part of the day’s event. These strong partnerships produce significant public events that embody what we believe as Canadians; our differences only make us stronger. As one new citizen explained during the celebrations, “We’ve got different languages, different experiences, and that’s what Canada means to me.”
The day began in the City of Toronto’s council chambers where special roundtable discussions were held by the ICC. Elder Cat Criger opened the discussion by stating the significance of gathering in a circle, and how that action allows us to truly hear one another as equals, “Our people sit in a circle. All heads at the same height. All treated with respect. All have a voice.” Roundtable discussions are a unique part of ICC citizenship ceremonies and involve active members of the community engaging in discussions with new Canadian citizens on what citizenship means to them, and allow them an opportunity to share their stories and aspirations as new citizens.
Following the roundtables, candidates for citizenship were brought outside to Nathan Phillips Square for Mayor John Tory’s official Newcomer Day proclamation. Following Mayor Tory the excited crowd heard personal stories of immigration and inspiring speeches on inclusion and identity from community leaders like Zabeen Hirji, Chief Human Resources Officer at RBC, who stated, “Being Canadian means I can have a multidimensional identity. I don’t have to choose.” Friends and family were also treated to a variety of performances from the Nai Syrian Children’s Choir, Ubuntu Drum and Dance Theatre, and Indigenous dancer Ian Akiwenzie. These performances were a visual representation of the different cultures that come together to make Toronto a shining example of diversity. Daniele Zanotti, President and CEO of United Way, Toronto and York region, echoed these sentiments during his speech, “Our city is stronger because you are here… Our city is best when we all belong”.
Finally, the moment came, 40 individuals became Canadian citizens in front of the cheering crowd gathered in Nathan Phillips Square. Judge Albert Wong’s closing words embodied the collective feeling of all new Canadians on this day, “This is not the end of your citizenship journey. Your citizenship is an instrument to make our country even better.” Citizenship does not end after being handed your certificate, it is only the beginning of another chapter as a Canadian citizen.
ICC Community Citizenship Ceremony in partnership with the City of Toronto
May 15, 2017 – Nathan Phillips Square, Toronto ON
Photos: ICC/Alyssa K. Faoro
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For more information on partnering with the ICC to host a community citizenship ceremony, email us: firstname.lastname@example.org