It was an emotional day in Halifax as 54 people officially became Canadian citizens.
People from 22 different countries took the oath at HMCS Scotian on Saturday afternoon.
Feb. 15 is also National Flag of Canada Day, marking the 55th anniversary of the Canadian flag.
“From the morning we woke up and we knew it would be a great day for us, we will never forget,” said Ghenwa Bteddini. She and her family came to Canada from Lebanon in 2015.
“It’s an honour, really, to be here and to be Canadian and part of the family, the Canadian family.”
Her two daughters had on big smiles throughout the ceremony.
“I’m really proud to be Canadian and I just feel super happy and excited,” said 10-year-old Mariella Nasr.
Her older sister, 12-year-old Leticia Nasr, said she was “just full of joy.”
Bteddini said they came to Canada because it is a country of peace.
“We are happy and we are so proud we can be Canadian,” said her husband, Hicham Nasr. “It was our dream plan since 10 years.”
The family said their Canadian friends have been supportive and helpful as they became citizens.
“They were always beside us, next to us, if we need any help,” Bteddini said.
Cmdr. Paul Hinkins, commanding officer of HMCS Scotian, knows what some of the new Canadians are going through. His family immigrated to Canada from the U.K. when he was 10.
“It’s a very emotional moment for me,” said Hinkins, who presented at Saturday’s award ceremony.
“It’s hard to describe it, other than it is very emotional and a privilege … And that’s what I told them as they walked by. When they said thank you, I said, ‘No, it’s my privilege I’m getting to meet you.'”
Srikanth Surapaneni came to Canada from India four years ago.
“People are warm, they welcome you and talk to you more, smile at you,” Surapaneni said. “I consider Nova Scotia home and Canada as my home country.”
His newborn son is already a citizen and his wife, now a permanent resident, hopes to get her citizenship in a few years.
“It’s been an amazing journey so far,” Surapaneni said. “This was a perfect moment in my life and I’ll always remember this.”
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