No, I’m not going to post a video of a Molson Canadian commercial under that title – I really am Canadian. It was a long time coming and yet it seems like not very long ago that I could never have guessed that I’d end up a Canadian citizen.
Eight years ago, I was preparing to come to Canada for only the third time in my life – I went camping in Victoria once when I was about nine and went to a conference in Vancouver when I was eighteen. This third trip was for my Discipleship Training School at the Youth With a Mission base in Westbank, BC. I picked this base because it was cheaper than the others I had considered – a six month school for $4,000 USD rather than $6,000 USD. I also chose the base because they had a history of going on outreach to First Nations reserves in Canada. When I emailed the contact person, they told me it was very unlikely that our outreach would be within Canada or the US – we were much more likely to go to an Asian country. I still figured that it was worth going to Westbank – if only to work with other people who possibly had a heart for natives. In the end, we took our outreach north – through Fort St. John (where I live now), Fort Nelson, Watson Lake, Whitehorse and into Alaska. It was an amazing experience and it didn’t hurt that I met Mike in the school. Our school had ten students and within a year of the end of the school, six of us had married each other. We’re all still married and have at least two kids per couple (we’re a bit ahead of the others due to all this super close spacing 🙂 ). Mike and I were married February 28, 2004 and I moved here directly after the wedding.
I spent 2004 getting paperwork done for my permanent residence application. I submitted it in December of 2004 and waited until January of 2006 to officially become a permanent resident. I then waited for another two years before I was able to apply for citizenship. The primary reason I chose to become a citizen was that a lawyer told us when we bought our house that if I did not have citizenship when we sold, we would lose 25% of our selling price. We have still been unable to confirm this with anyone else but just in case it was the truth, it seemed worth it. Also, we were told that my permanent residence would have to be renewed every five years. At the time I assumed that meant all the paperwork and fees would have to be re-submitted every time. I’ve since learned that it may only cost me a small amount to get a new card every five years, but eventually it would add up to more than what my citizenship application cost me. We spent around $1,500 on residence while citizenship only cost $200. And of course, if I plan to live here long term (which I do), it would be benefitical to be able to vote and travel with a Canadian passport.
So, on Wednesday I took a citizenship test – I waited a year and five months for my application to be completed and to receive a notice of when to take my test. The test was incredibly easy, although had I not studied, I might not have passed. But really, a twenty question multiple choice test can’t be all that hard.
On Thursday, I took the oath of citizenship at a very long and disorganized citizenship ceremony. I affirmed that I would be loyal to the Queen and follow the laws of Canada and be a good citizen. Of course, I feel as though I’ve been doing those things for years now. I’ve lived here for more than six years, I’ve bought a house here, had four children and immersed myself in Canadian life – not that it’s incredibly different than it was back home. My principle emotion getting through the ceremony was relief. It’s done – I don’t have to do paperwork or pay fees anymore. I won’t have the waiting constantly hanging over my head as it has been since I moved here. I am just Canadian – maybe not quite like everyone else since I am also an American citizen (no, I didn’t have to give it up) – I can work, vote, travel freely, even run for mayor if I want to. No worries, I’m not interested in that position any time soon.
More news about my everyday life will have to come later. I’m perpetually exhausted lately (lack of sleep and possibly a bit of iron deficiency…yes, I’m back on my iron today) and just writing this much makes me want to take a nap. Okay, so nearly anything makes me want to take a nap these days.