1. Immigrant Centre Executive Director, Linda Lalande, and RBC Regional Vice President, Holly Toupin, greet the round table participants as they arrive at the Qualico Centre in Assiniboine Park.
2. Claire Reid from the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC) gives some last minute training to the round table facilitators, most of whom are volunteers from RBC, sponsors of the event.
3. Rob Vineberg, Immigrant Centre Board Director and Director General of Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Prairies and Northern Territories Region from 1996 until 2008, welcomes everybody as Canadian Geese fly outside the panoramic windows of the Qualico Centre in Assiniboine Park.
4. RBC Regional Vice President, Holly Toupin, tells the group how important new Canadians are to RBC, both as staff and clients.
5. Claire Reid explains that the Institute for Canadian Citizenship is giving every new citizen a Cultural Access Pass. A gift to each Canadian citizen during their first year of citizenship, the Cultural Access Pass provides complimentary admission to more than 1000 of Canada's cultural treasures from coast-to-coast-to-coast. The Cultural Access Pass creates opportunities for Canada's newest citizens to discover our rich cultural history, world-renowned artworks, historical figures and stunning parks.
6. Volunteer round table facilitator, Jim Mair, of North End Sponsorship Team (NEST), a voluntary association of faith groups based in Winnipeg's North End that sponsors refugees, was also a member of the Citizenship Ceremony organisational committee.
7. Holly Toupin of RBC jokes with Timothy and Titus, aged 7, who moved to Winnipeg when they were two and were very excited to become Canadians. Watching them is their Aunt Faith, aged 5, who was born in Canada.
8. Round table participants from all over the world, find they have a lot of common experiences to share.
9. The volunteers are trained to help even the shyest of participants to speak up and share their stories.
10. Rachel, aged just 2 months, is the youngest person to take part in the round table discussions!
11. Some participants have a lifetime of stories to share.
12. Executive Director, Linda Lalande, moves from table to table to share in everybody's discussions.
13. Anthony 10, and Ashley 8, arrived in Canada five years ago and are very excited to become "Canadian like our little sister."
14. The volunteer round table facilitators and the participants stand up together to share what their roundtable had discussed. This young man had been in a refugee camp for 12 years and when he was chosen by the Canadian Government to come to Winnipeg he didn't even know Canada existed. He admitted that when he first saw snow he thought it was "flowers coming from the sky". Now he says he has a beautiful life, with good food to eat, a future and a sense of belonging. "Today is my miracle, because my dreams have finally come true."
15. Anna Kushnir, from Russia, who participated in the round table discussion with her husband and daughter, tells how her neighbours had decorated her family's house in red and white balloons and Canadian flags during the night for them to wake up to on their special day. Her neighbours were her guests at the ceremony and they were hosting a BBQ at their home that evening to celebrate Anna and her family becoming Canadians. Anna said "I was speechless, so nice and so unexpected. Thank you for accepting us with open arms."
16. Ababe stands with his six children Winta (15) Bitty (15) Sara (13) Ripk (10), Musaic (10) and Meeraf (8) an hour before they all took their Oath of Citizenship. Winta (front row left) spoke movingly of how Sudan had been a very hard place to live for her family and that she thought Winnipeg is "beautiful, friendly and peaceful" and told everyone that she is "glad to be here".
17. The participants and volunteers walk through Assiniboine Park to the marquee together after attending the round table session and lunch at the Qualico Centre.
18. Volunteers and newcomers continue to share their stories on the after-lunch stroll to the ceremony
19. The excitement grows as the ceremony is about to begin.
20. Clerk of the Ceremony, Maureen Penner, gives the opening remarks.
21. Board President Keith Solmundson speaks during the ceremony on behalf of Immigrant Centre.
22. The Right Honourable Steven Fletcher speaks about the duties of being a Canadian and his family's move to Winnipeg from Brazil.
23. Guest speaker Captain Robert Grandholm tells the new citizens that his grandparents had come to Canada from Norway and Sweden. He said that "Many millions around the world aspire to take the very steps you have taken today." "Canada is indeed a land of freedoms... alongside this comes responsibilities", and reminded the new Canadians that they must respect the rule of law and actively participate in the political process.
24. Judge Harold Gilleshammer, Citizenship Judge for Winnipeg since 2007, tells the new citizens "you chose Canada, today we choose you." He also told them "use your talents..together we can be an even better Canada!".
25. This 3-year old Canadian-born little girl waves her flags enthusiastically as her mum, dad, big brother Anthony (10yrs old) and big sister Ashley (8 yrs old) become Canadians too.
26. Children too young to remember this day later in life, will be told the story of this ceremony by their families.
27. The new Canadians raise their hands to take The Oath of Citizenship.
28. Stacey Nattrass, national anthem singer for the Winnipeg Jets, leads everyone in singing O Canada. She also sang You Raise Me Up during the ceremony.
29. Winta, aged 15 from Sudan, shakes hands with Immigrant Centre Board President Keith Solmundson
30. Royal Mounted Policeman hands out a Canadian flag to an immigrant who moved here from England to join family members who have been living here for 30 years.
31. The Kushnir family. Everyone has a chance to photograph and film their loved ones standing with the ceremony officials and guest speakers.
32. The Immigrant Centre organised for sixty Grade 9 students from Kildonan-East Collegiate to come to the Ceremony to bring to life their Social Studies syllabus which is all about citizenship.
33. The Cookie Divas, a small bakery started by immigrants to Winnipeg, designed a selection of beautiful Canadian cupcakes especially for the day.
“I could volunteer in other organizations but I love AEC because I like the atmosphere, respect, and professionalism.”
About Immigrant Centre
From the time a client first arrives at The Immigrant Centre's front desk, they are made to feel right at home. Services are provided in a professional, warm, and welcoming atmosphere. By triaging clients immediately an arrival, their needs are addressed in a consistent, smooth, and timely manner. Intake ensure a "Roadmap of Services" tailored to assist and guide newcomers in their settlement process.