The Canadian federal government implemented virtual ceremonies for those whose ceremonies have been postponed due to the covid-19 pandemic.
Well, thanks to our government (and to technology in life ?), Ms. Diana Akilian, an inspiring entrepreneur (garage owner AND car dealer) residing in Amherst, Nova Scotia (NS), was among the happy new Canadians!
In addition to being a businesswoman and an alumnus who speaks several languages (e.g., English, Armenian, Arabic… and even Turkish), she is currently completing a Mount Allison University’s business degree in Sackville, New Brunswick.
Diana is a good friend of Bambi and her spouse. Like all her friends, especially those from the Lebanese diaspora of the Maritimes, they are thrilled for her!
Actually, Bambi’s spouse made plans to attend her ceremony, which was supposed to take place in Halifax (NS) on March 18, 2020. Thanks to his good friend, Mr. Internet, he can share Diana’s joy and pride.
“Mabrouk” Diana (this means “Congrats”, “Félicitations” in Arabic).
“Մաբրուք”! Hoping the latter means the same in Armenian and not a bad word found online ?.
For Canadians who are immigrants (basically everyone at different times throughout history!), taking the oath is a VERY moving moment in an immigration journey.
When Bambi took her own oath of citizenship, the older text was as follows:
“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”
Yesterday, Diana recited the following text:
“I swear (or affirm) that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Queen of Canada, Her Heirs and Successors, and that I will faithfully observe the laws of Canada, including the Constitution, which recognizes and affirms the Aboriginal and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples, and fulfil my duties as a Canadian citizen.”
The Oath of Citizenship is usually recited at a citizenship ceremony. The latter is the final legal step to becoming a Canadian citizen:
Each newcomer is unique.
Each story is different.
Each experience is uniquely lived.
Ms. Diana Akilian is also a uniquely talented citizen… now legally a Canadian citizen, enriching our economy and social fabric with her skills, great values, and personality. As she is humble despite her skills, she may be perhaps blushing now whilst reading Bambi’s words ?.
Now, taking the oath virtually is surely a NEW experience that Bambi has never imagined to hear about during her 30 years in Canada.
It is a virtual ceremony yet it is CONCRETE. It is legal. It is final… even if it is lacking family/friends’ physical (or virtual) presence and camera flashes.
To eternize this great moment, Bambi has asked her friend if she accepts to be interviewed for this post and to share pictures. Guess what? We are lucky because Ms. Diana Akilian generously accepted to share with us her feelings and experience just a few moments following her virtual oath ceremony.
In addition, Ms. Kate Walker from CTV News interviewed her and shared Ms. Diana Akilian’s happy story with all of us on TV this evening. Wow!
Here is a video link, followed by Diana’s own words, as answers to Bambi’s questions, and by pictures of this memorable day!
Before we begin our interview, Bambi will say: Thank you both Diana and CTV news for enriching Bambi’s post. Bravo to Canada for moving forward with these ceremonies in the middle of this pandemic.
Bambi: Bravo Diana! How are you feeling now that you have finally officially become a Canadian citizen?
Diana: I don’t know where to begin with, but the feelings are too strong, in a good way. I feel like I’m dreaming and I’m physically numb, also in a good way. This is the happiest moment I have felt in a very long time.
Bambi: What can you tell us about your immigration journey leading to this great day?
Diana: There have been many exciting moments as well as rough moments from the day I landed in Canada to the day I became a Canadian citizen. It has been very rough for me, as a student coming to a new environment and culture. It has even been more difficult for me to get through this journey without the presence of my family.
When I first met people from the Maritimes, they were very welcoming, and that did comfort me. However, deep down I still felt sad and at times alone, because I lacked the presence of the physical support and love of my family.
You don’t have the option to choose where and when you want to be born, but I chose Canada to be my home and the day I became a citizen will be celebrated every year as “my birth date” because it is the date that I was newly born into this country.
Bambi: Do you have any particular message, or advice tip, to someone dreaming of immigrating to Canada?
Diana: First and for all, Canada is such an amazing and safe country. My advice for anyone who wishes to immigrate to Canada is to be strong and willing to survive through the rough times, because nothing comes in easy, you have to work hard to achieve any goal. In other words, you have to have the motive and the will toward anything you want to achieve. From my experience, it is definitely worth the hard work, because this country has a lot of good things to offer.
Bambi: How did you experience the virtual aspect of taking the oath (compared to physical ceremonies you have attended in the past when your friends became Canadian citizens)?
Diana: It was definitely not what I expected, I have been waiting for 12 years to walk up the stage and receive my citizenship physically. It was disappointing that the ceremony was cancelled just four days prior the date. But I believe that everything happens for a reason, and that reason is the following: I was able to share this beautiful and special moment with my family virtually as well with the world.
Becoming a citizen when you’re a minority is such a big deal, and having a physical ceremony is even a bigger deal because it is a moment where we all can gather together and celebrate it. But again, it is a new experience to have this type of ceremony virtually.
Bambi: Would you like to add anything else? Congratulations again!
Diana: I would like to thank every single person who helped me throughout my journey and who was a special part of me becoming a Canadian citizen. I want to thank you personally for giving me the opportunity to share my story.