CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. - It’s been a long process for many, but on Thursday the wait was over.
In one of the largest ceremonies across the country, 195 people from 32 different countries made their way to Murphy’s Community Centre in Charlottetown, raised their hands, swore an oath and became Canadian citizens.
For Fabiana Connolly, this day has been a long time coming.
“It’s a mix of feelings. I’m so relieved. It’s been a long process,” she said. “I’m very proud and very happy to be here and I’m looking forward to a new beginning.”
Originally from Brazil, Connolly arrived in P.E.I. 11 years ago.
She’s since married an Islander and had three children and wanted to share a citizenship with them.
“Everybody in the house are Canadian now,” she said, adding her seven-year-old daughter was really excited for her.
“She woke up this morning and she’s like, ‘Oh, mommy, you’re going to be Canadian.’ It was very sweet.”
“You’ve made the tough adjustment and you’ve made a conscious decision in favour of Canada. This morning here in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the birthplace of Confederation, I’m delighted to say that Canada is declaring in favour of you.”
-Judge Joan Mahoney
For Anna Keenan, becoming a Canadian citizen was important to her because she’s actively involved in the Island’s political process.
In 2016, Keenan played a large role in the Island-wide proportional representation campaign and said she’s eager to exercise her right to vote in the next provincial election.
“If that referendum happens, I’m really looking forward to placing my vote in favour of proportional representation so that every vote of every citizen really makes a difference and really matters,” she told The Guardian after signing the final citizenship documents. “To finally have the right to vote means a lot to me.”
The native Australian moved to P.E.I. on a work visa five years ago and since then has married and had a son on the Island.
“Our intention is to stay here in Canada. We’re renovating a farmhouse right by my parents-in-law, so we’re committed to staying.”
Judge Joan Mahoney presided over the ceremony, and in her opening remarks said the Charlottetown ceremony was one of 74 taking place this week across the country. About 6,300 people become Canadian citizens.
This week also marked the first anniversary of changes to the Citizenship Act, making the citizenship process fairer and more flexible, allowing more people to qualify for citizenship sooner, she said.
“Canada has one of the highest rates of naturalization in the world with 85 per cent of newcomers becoming citizens, so today, you join that group of people.”
Saying the oath is the final step towards citizenship, she said.
“Your presence here this morning confirms that your courage and your perseverance have been rewarded,” she said. “You’ve made the tough adjustment and you’ve made a conscious decision in favour of Canada. This morning here in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, the birthplace of Confederation, I’m delighted to say that Canada is declaring in favour of you.”