Seven new Houston Canadians passed a final test on Jan. 19­—leaving their warm homes for a citizenship ceremony on a -35 C morning. Standing from left to right are Constable Ash Vanleeuwen

Glowing day for Houston’s newest Canadians

Seven people from Houston were sworn in as new Canadians in one of the Bulkley Valley’s largest-ever citizenship ceremonies last week.

Seven people from Houston were sworn in as new Canadians in one of the Bulkley Valley’s largest-ever citizenship ceremonies last week.

Speaking to the 66 people from 22 countries gathered at a Smithers elementary school on Thursday, Judge George Gibault noted that it was freezing cold outside, but “a very warm day in all of our hearts.”

“Days like this are special days in the life in Canada,” said Judge Gibault. “Right here, right now, we are part of a great tradition—the tradition of building Canada with newcomers from every part of the world.”

Houston’s newest Canadians came to Canada from India, from Russia, and Uganda. All have been in Canada at least three years, but some, like Balihar and Baljinder Vinning, have lived in northern B.C. for thirty years.

Tatiana Kortmeyer has lived in Houston since 2001. Her husband joked that “she wasn’t going to apply for it until she could get 100 per cent on the test.”

Candidates for citizenship have to pass a twenty-question test that touches on Canadian history, as well as the rights and duties of citizens.

To some, the test may seem like one more piece of paperwork in a years-long process.

But for Kortmeyer, reading stories in her citizenship book about others who immigrated to Canada from less free countries struck an emotional chord.

“You feel it—when I came from Russia, I felt it,” she said.

Like anything, she said, after a few years it’s easy to take such things for granted. But Thursday’s ceremony brought those feelings back strong, said Kortmeyer.

“Truly, I appreciate being in Canada,” she said.

Sam Kadoli was born in Uganda. He spent years apart from his mother, who had to flee their country for neighbouring Kenya, and he came to Houston as a refugee.

Becoming a citizen means many things, Kadoli said. For one thing, citizenship means a passport—much easier to travel on than the travel documents that come with being a permanent resident.

“But most important is just having a place to call home,” he said.

The night before he was sworn in as a citizen, Kadoli got to enjoy another Canadian tradition—a snow day that shut down his engineering classes at Camosun College in Victoria.

“That’s good,” he said laughing. “I was worried I’d have so much to catch up on.”


Just Posted

New Seven Sisters replacement confirmed

Mental health facility will have 25 beds, up from 20 in current facility

Terrace hospital’s business plan approved

Health Minister’s announcement opens door to construction phase

Convicted animal abuser Catherine Adams to return to Quesnel court next week

Adams is facing a breach of probation charge stemming from a 2015 conviction in Smithers

Northwest Fire Centre open burn ban lifted

Recent rain, cooler temperatures have lowered the region’s fire risk

Telkwa pot plant application passes review

Cannabis company claims new Health Canada regulations are working in its favour

Rescuers finally persuade Eiffel Tower climber to come down

The official said the man was ‘under control and out of danger’ on Monday night

LETTER: Fletcher ‘blurs reality’ on B.C. union public construction

Bridge, highway projects awarded to companies, not unions

Killer of Calgary mother, daughter gets no parole for 50 years

A jury found Edward Downey guilty last year in the deaths of Sara Baillie, 34, and five-year-old Taliyah Marsman

Federal government funds millions to help B.C. police spot drugged driving

Many police departments have expressed wariness about using the only government-approved roadside test

Judge: Mississippi 6-week abortion ban ‘smacks of defiance’

The new law would prohibit most abortions once a fetal heartbeat can be detected

Oil companies, 24-cent gap between B.C., Alberta to be focus of gas price probe

Premier John Horgan called the spike in gas prices ‘alarming’

Motorcycle deaths spike 50% since 2017

Riders were most likely fatally crash on the weekends compared with the rest of the week

Mother of accused charged in death of Surrey teen girl found in torched SUV

Manjit Kaur Deo charged with ‘accessory after the fact’ in 2017 death of Surrey teen

Family of B.C. pilot killed in Honduras trying to ‘piece together’ tragedy

Patrick Forseth has a number of friends in the area and was loved by everyone

Most Read