Last Friday I went to a friend of mine’s Oath of Citizenship ceremony. He’s originally from the States, has been living here in Vancouver with his husband for years, and made the choice to become an official Canuck. That means a lot. I was born here, so were my parents, and their parents, and their parents; never lived anywhere else except for 6 months in Belgium when I was 8. Canada is always around me, and I don’t really think much about Canadianness except when listening to The Arrogant Worms’ heart-stirring national anthem, Canada’s Really Big, or bitching about our dead-eyed Bush-wannabe PM.
And I’d never been to this kind of ceremony, so hey, new experiences all around! I was a bit disappointed that my friend was only one of 70-odd new Canadians, but I guess if they went one at a time we’d be there all day. The judge started out with a silly, rambly speech about how this was like these people’s alternate birthday, and on every July 22nd from now on, they might want to bake a cake with red and/or white frosting. And the frosting had to contain maple syrup, so we’d taste the Canadianness. I don’t know, it was like the Food Network or something.
His more formal remarks, about how Canada has a long history of both democracy and embracing diversity, were a lot better. He mentioned several cultural festivals that are widely celebrated at least in Vancouver, like Chinese New Year and Persian New Year, and for a second I totally waited for him to mention Pride… but it never came. Bummer.
There wasn’t a whole lot of ritual, but what there was was all right: a quick oath of allegiance to the Queen (holy book optional; my friend had a copy of Dawkins’ The God Delusion), and a promise to obey Canadian laws, then singing the national anthem. It’s been a while, and I’m glad I remembered the words. Being the only one singing in French probably didn’t help because I had to tune out all the other singers around me.
The only sticking point was swearing allegiance to a monarch. Now don’t get me wrong, Liz is a classy lady, and I know she’s a package deal with Canadian citizenship, but I have personally no use for royalty or aristocracy. No, I didn’t stay up all night to watch two overprivileged youngsters get married or make fun of Princess Beatrice’s crazy hat.
But whatever, this is a joyous occasion! This is a good country to live in, and I’m happy that someone chose Canada, Queen and all!