June 19, 2009

'Reborn in a free and democratic society'

'Reborn in a free and democratic society'

New Canadians moved by oath of citizenship

THEY came from different countries and under different circumstances, but they came together for one reason on Tuesday afternoon -- to become Canadian citizens.Seventy-six immigrants took the Canadian oath in a lavish room at Union Station, marking the beginning of a brighter, happier future for many of them.

Eshetu Beshada said in a speech that he felt "reborn in a free and democratic society," after receiving his citizenship.

Beshada left Ethiopia in 2004. The political instability and discrimination against his ethnicity forced him and his family to flee, Beshada said.

Beshada and his family are from Oromia, an ethnic region of Ethiopia. His family was tired of being targeted because of that, Beshada said.

"You didn't know what was going to happen every day you woke up," Beshada said. "You could be taken to jail or be shot for no reason."

Going back home would be difficult, he said.

Beshada, along with his wife and two children, took in the ceremony with pride.

"I was almost crying," Beshada said. "It's unbelievable to finally come to this stage."

Naivedya and Anjali Chhibber brought their family to Canada for a healthier and cleaner life.

They left New Delhi, India, in May 2005 and were all smiles after receiving their citizenship certificates.

"We came for the freedom, the quality of life, and the future of our kids," Naivedya said.

Amenities like water and electricity are scarce in their overpopulated city, Naivedya said, something they decided they could live through no longer.

"We only had access to the water supply once in the morning and once in the afternoon," Naivedya said.

"You go through a lot of stress for those things," Anjali added.

The moment they finished reading their oaths was very emotional for them, Naivedya said.

"It's exciting because you've waited for this moment for so long and finally it comes," Anjali said.

One thing that Mario Padron, who is from Cuba, is eagerly looking forward to after waiting four years for his citizenship, is the right to vote.

"On the news you watch all of these things happening (in the country), and you're not really involved," Padron said. "As a permanent resident you have almost everything but you don't have the right to vote. Now I am a Canadian citizen and I have that right.

"Now that we're here, we'd like to help as much as possible. We want to contribute to Canada's success."

Immigrants from China, Germany, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and Sudan also received their citizenships.



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