It’s a pleasure to join all of you here today for a citizenship ceremony for some of our newest Canadians.
Today I also have the special privilege of honouring some of our most esteemed Canadian citizens. These citizens have helped newcomers in successfully integrating into Canadian society and have worked diligently to promote the value of Canadian citizenship.
J’ai également aujourd’hui le privilège particulier de rendre hommage à certains de nos concitoyens les plus distingués. Ces citoyens ont aidé de nouveaux arrivants à s’intégrer avec succès à la société canadienne et n’ont pas ménagé leurs efforts pour promouvoir la valeur de la citoyenneté canadienne.
It is fitting that we acknowledge the outstanding contributions of these citizens every year during Citizenship Week – a time to celebrate our common citizenship and reflect on what it means to be Canadian.
The theme of this year’s Citizenship Week is “Our Citizenship,” which is symbolic of the fact that we are all part of the same identity. No matter where you immigrated from or when you obtained Canadian citizenship, the Canadian story becomes your story. And Canadian values become your values.
To help understand what it means to be Canadian, I’m sure many of you read the new citizenship guide we launched last year, Discover Canada: The Rights and Responsibilities of Citizenship. The more we know about our country’s history and who we are, the more we can appreciate how special it is to be a Canadian.
As Canadians, we can also appreciate that we share the same personal histories. Whether it was our ancestors who first arrived in Canada more than a hundred years ago or whether we arrived in Canada within the recent past, our family histories each begin with an immigration story.
They begin with our arrival in this country, and are woven with the accomplishments and challenges of building a new future. These are the stories of the people that helped build our country and who continue to shape its story as we work towards a common future.
Building a common future together means that cultivating the values and responsibilities attached to our citizenship is not just reserved for the week we celebrate our citizenship, or for the study time required to pass a test.
Pour construire ensemble un avenir commun, nous ne pouvons pas nous contenter de chérir les valeurs et les responsabilités liées à notre citoyenneté le temps de la Semaine de la citoyenneté ou le temps de passer un examen.
It is an ongoing effort and commitment on all of our parts to uphold our common values, respect our fellow citizens and be responsible towards our community.
Il s’agit d’un travail et d’un engagement permanent de notre part à tous afin de faire honneur à nos valeurs communes, de respecter nos concitoyens et de faire preuve de responsabilité envers la collectivité.
To paraphrase John McCrae’s celebrated poem In Flanders Fields: “To you...we throw the torch [of citizenship] / Be yours to hold it high.”
Today we are presenting Canada’s Citizenship Award to some of Canada’s most outstanding citizens. Twelve individuals selected from a list of outstanding nominees from across Canada will receive Canada’s Citizenship Award. And I am pleased to present this award today to three recipients from the Toronto region.
These individuals are helping to nourish the Canadian story by promoting the value of citizenship to all Canadians and by making a real difference in the lives of newcomers to Canada.
These outstanding citizens are also promoting an ongoing dialogue about our citizenship. They are helping to ensure that what we have in common remains meaningful to our present story and that our identity does not get lost in the pages of history.
Through their kindness and generosity in helping newcomers integrate, these citizens have led by example, demonstrating that citizenship also involves giving back to your community and society.
Par la bonté et la générosité dont ils ont fait preuve pour aider les nouveaux arrivants à s’intégrer, ces citoyens ont prêché par l’exemple, démontrant ainsi que la citoyenneté consiste également à faire sa part pour sa collectivité et la société.
I would like to personally thank these individuals for their tireless dedication to promoting Canadian citizenship in such a way as to motivate new and established Canadians to not only appreciate the rights of Canadian citizenship, but to also be active citizens and contribute to their communities.
In the citizenship ceremony today, we swear allegiance to the Queen of Canada, the head of state of our country. And in return, we receive the guarantee of our freedom, democracy and constitutional rights.
In the famous words of former prime minister John Diefenbaker: “I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country.”
We should all be grateful for our rights and freedoms in Canada, but we must also recognize that citizenship is about more than a legal status or title. Citizenship is also about the responsibilities we have to our country and our communities.
Nous devrions tous être reconnaissants de nos droits et de nos libertés au Canada, mais nous devons également reconnaître que la citoyenneté est bien plus qu’un statut légal ou un titre. La citoyenneté est aussi synonyme de responsabilités envers notre pays et nos collectivités.
In this spirit, I would like to encourage all Canadian citizens to do as the recipients of the of Canada’s Citizenship Award have done: take an active role in upholding your responsibilities as citizens; to give to others through charitable organizations, through community service, through taking responsibility for oneself and your families, but also by being active in the broader society.
Citizenship Award Recipients
Dr. Kazi Sadrul Hoque is committed to promoting civic literacy and fostering civic pride.
He promotes respect for core democratic values grounded in Canadian history, such as freedom, tolerance and pluralism.
He also encourages civic responsibility and motivates new and established Canadians to give back to their communities through leading by example.
Dr. Hoque is passionate about volunteering and helping others in his community. Through his efforts, he secured funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to develop a program that gives newcomers work experience in Canada. He has also volunteered with the Bangladeshi-Canadian Community Services, the Newcomer Women’s Center, and the Toronto and Canadian Cancer Society.
Through his volunteerism, his dedication to promoting civic pride, and his commitment to helping others in his community, Dr. Hoque has demonstrated to all Canadians the true meaning of citizenship.
I am pleased to present the Citizenship Award to Dr. Kazi Sadrul Hoque.
Mario Guilombo is another exceptional Canadian citizen who leads by example.
He is a passionate human rights activist who has supported and helped more than 6,000 families, each with a different story and unique challenges – including recent immigrants, refugees and victims of human rights abuses.
He is a member of the board for the Canadian Human Rights International Organization (CHRIO) and works diligently to help his colleagues who work to defend human rights abroad.
He is also an educator who informs the public on matters relating to human rights abuses around the world. By providing workshops, courses, seminars and other educational programs, he also educates new Canadians on the rights and responsibilities of Canadian citizenship.
Mr. Guilombo is not only an outstanding Canadian citizen; he is a global citizen who works to promote Canadian values of tolerance, respect and harmony between all of the world’s citizens.
And I am pleased to present the Citizenship Award today to Mario Guilombo.
Joshua Jiang is a passionate and dedicated young man who has been working to help newcomers since he was 15 years old.
Now a student at the University of Toronto, he has organized Education Seminars to provide information about Canada’s post-secondary education system and help newcomers access higher education. At these seminars, Mr. Jiang also encouraged newcomers to become active members of Canadian society by giving back to their community and helping others.
In addition to these efforts, Mr. Jiang has also volunteered for more than four years for ORBIS, a non-profit organization that helps prevent and treat blindness internationally. He has organized numerous fundraising events for this cause and leads a team of young volunteers to organize.
As a dedicated volunteer and someone who is actively engaged in his community, Mr. Jiang is a citizen who leads by example.
And I am pleased to present the Citizenship Award today to Joshua Jiang.