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Citizenship is Sweet 16 present for Annapolis Royal girl

Elizabeth Campbell with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada welcomes the Bonnington family from Annapolis Royal after they became Canadian citizens at a ceremony at Kejimkujik National Park May 18. From left are Campbell with Oliver, Sue, Abigail, and Simon Bonnington.
Elizabeth Campbell with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada welcomes the Bonnington family from Annapolis Royal after they became Canadian citizens at a ceremony at Kejimkujik National Park May 18. From left are Campbell with Oliver, Sue, Abigail, and Simon Bonnington.

MAITLAND BRIDGE - Abigail Bonnington turned 16 on Thursday, May 19 but she received an early birthday present the day before – her Canadian citizenship. And she was all smiles.

The Annapolis Royal girl, along with 27 other people, became Canadian citizens during a sometimes-emotional ceremony at Kejimkujik National Park Wednesday afternoon. Among those others were Abigail’s parents Simon and Sue Bonnington and 10-year-old brother Oliver.

“I’m very proud to be a citizen now,” she said.

The Annapolis Royal girl, along with 27 other people, became Canadian citizens during a sometimes-emotional ceremony at Kejimkujik National Park Wednesday afternoon. Among those others were Abigail’s parents Simon and Sue Bonnington and 10-year-old brother Oliver.

“I’m very proud to be a citizen now,” she said.

Jim Norton and Alix Kusch also became Canadian citizens. Norton’s from England and Kusch is from the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean. The couple met in Europe and now live in Lawrencetown.

“It feels like the end of a journey,” said Norton moments after receiving his certificate. “It’s nice to be here. We’re grateful that it’s done.”

Kusch credits local friends for their support.

Alix Kusch and Jim Norton are welcomed as new citizens by Elizabeth Campbell of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, Julie Tompa with Parks Canada, and RCMP member Const. Rob James at a ceremony at Kejimkujik National Park May 18.

“They made it possible to be nominated by the province to get our permanent residency and citizenship,” said Kusch.

And Andrew Hardy of Granville Centre is now Canadian too. He started coming to Canada from the United States many years ago.

“It feels great to finally become a citizen,” said Hardy. “I’ve enjoyed living in Canada since 1968 and I’m glad to be participating to the fullest possible extent right now.”

 

Welcome

Mi’kmaq singer and Parks Canada cultural interpreter Ursula Johnson welcomed the new Canadians in the country’s first language by performing a welcoming song. Johnson is from Eskasoni and kept time with an ash percussion instrument she tapped in her hand. Also welcoming those attending the ceremony was Parks Canada’s Julie Tompa.

Andrew Hard of Granville Centre was welcome as a Canadian citizen by Parks Canada’s Julie Tompa, Elizabeth Campbell with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, RCMP Const. Rob James, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Leona Arab.

“I am happy that you have chosen to become citizens of this wonderful country,” said Elizabeth Campbell with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada as she presided over the ceremony in the packed visitor centre at Keji. “I realize that today is an important day for you. For your families and for your friends. I feel privileged to share this milestone with you. You’ve worked hard to earn your citizenship – learning about Canada’s politics, geography, and history.”

She said for some it meant learning a new language and many came from countries very different from Canada.

“You’ve made the sometimes-agonizing decision to leave your homes and make a new life in a new country,” she said. “Your presence here today confirms your long journey is over. You’ve made the tough adjustments and you have made a conscious decision in favour of Canada. Well, today in Kejimkujik National Park Canada is declaring in favour of you.”

Abigail Bonnington, left, with mother Sue Bonnington a few seconds after receiving her Canadian Citizenship certificate May 18.

Long Tradition

“You will join a long tradition of newcomers who have enriched this country through their contributions. Now each of you will add your own page to Canada’s rich history,” said Campbell.

“As Canadians we enjoy rights and freedoms that are unknown in many countries,” she said. “For example we have guaranteed freedoms to practice our own religions and to express our opinions. As Canadians it is important for us to remember that with our rights and freedoms comes responsibilities that all citizens share – such as the responsibility to make a difference, to help others, and to build safe communities.”

She told Canada’s newest citizens that in Canada the opportunities are endless and they have the freedom to pursue them.

Those who swore the oath on a religious book to become Canadian citizens, or affirmed the oath by raising their hand and reciting it, there had been some last-minute paperwork when they arrived at Keji and a signature when the ceremony was over – followed by a reception.

Yousuf ElBazi of Morocco, right, received his Canadian citizenship May 18. His friend Brian Fralic was their to support him. ElBazi lives in the Liverpool-Bridgewater area.

All Smiles

Yousuf ElBazi is originally from Morocco, but now lives in eastern Queens County. He might have had the biggest smile after the ceremony was over. And with help from Queens County Councillor Brian Fralic, ElBazi wrapped himself in the Canadian flag.

ElBazi wasn’t alone at the ceremony. It seemed like half of Queens County was there including his fiancé. Fralic said later on Facebook that it was a privilege to attend the ceremony where new Canadians from 10 different countries were sworn in.

“One of which was Yousuf ElBazi, from Morocco, a friend of ours who worked very hard for this day,” Fralic said in the post.

Like Yousuf, the Bonningtons of Annapolis Royal had a large contingent of supporters at the ceremony and were even presented with flowers. Simon Bonnington is a medical doctor.

“Since we moved here in 2010 we’ve been embraced by the people of Canada, by the folk of Annapolis Royal,” said Simon Bonnington. “We’ve done our part towards trying to fit in and participate and be part of the community and we’ve been welcomed with open arms, left, right, and centre. Absolutely lovely that we’ve been able to have our citizenship with so many up here at Kejimkujik. Such a beautiful, beautiful place.”

“I am glad that you have chosen Canada and proud that Canada has chosen you,” Campbell told the newcomers. “We welcome you. This is your country now.”

Andrew Hardy is happy to be a Canadian citizen after first coming to Canada in 1968. He lives in Granville Centre.
Most new Canadians affirmed their citizenship by raising their right hand and reciting an oath. They had the option of swearing on a religious book.

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