Twins Sienna and Sequoia Knott joined Parks Canada coordinator Andrew Bellefontaine as they held the Canadian flag before a flag raising ceremony at the Fort Langley National Historic Site on Canada Day

Fort Langley marks Canada’s 149th birthday

New Canadians shared their after taking the oath during Friday’s citizenship ceremony at the Fort Langley National Historic Site.

Friday, July 1, 2016 is a day 48 people originally from 32 countries will most likely remember for the rest of their lives.

It’s the day when, inside the palisade walls of the Fort Langley National Historic Site, they officially became Canadian citizens.

A highlight of the Fort’s annual Canada Day celebration was the late morning citizenship ceremony officiated by judge Dane Minor.

“To those of you who are about to become citizens, today is an important milestone in your life,” Minor said. “For those of us who are citizens, today is also a special day. Because of you, we celebrate an expansion of our Canadian family.”

Minor told the soon-to-be new Canadians that, “your presence here today confirms you have the courage and the wisdom to make the necessary adaptations and that you made a conscious decision to make Canada as your new home.”

Two of the 48 sworn in as new Canadians were Sudin Bajracharya and Evelyn Reddy.

Bajracharya, whose native country is Nepal, has lived in Canada for seven years. After a lengthy process, he became a citizen with his wife Grishma and 20-month-old daughter Nia in attendance.

“This is very exciting,” he said. “It’s like a new day, a new life.”

The technical support engineer  describes Canada as a “free and open society, an advanced country.”

“Everything is nice, here,” Bajracharya said.

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Reddy, originally from Sri Lanka, had a wide grin on her face after the ceremony.

Asked why it was a big day, she answered with a laugh, “because I’m a citizen, here. It’s a privilege; it’s a beautiful country and they welcome everyone.”

The biggest difference between Canada and Sri Lanka is, she said, the climate. “We were in the hot place and now we’re in the cold place!”

Minor, who, himself, took his citizenship oath in 1976, said the tradition of opening doors to newcomers is as old as Canada itself.

“Many native-born Canadians cannot trace their roots in this country beyond a few generations. Compared to our Aboriginal peoples who claim a far longer historical attachment, most Canadians are relative newcomers.”

One of the things that distinguishes Canada from most countries in the world is how it embraces multiculturalism, Minor added.

Dignitaries taking part in the citizenship ceremony included Fern Gabriel and Dennis Leon from Kwantlen First Nation, Langley MP Mark Warawa, Langley Township Mayor Jack Froese, Surrey-Newton MP Sukh Dhaliwal, RCMP member Sgt. Chad Greig, citizenship officer Suzanne Young, and MC Melissa Banovich, the historic sites manager, Coastal British Columbia Field Unit.

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The citizenship ceremony was one aspect of Canada’s 149th birthday celebration at the Fort. It also included Métis dancers, birthday cake, a petting zoo, Bhangra dancers, a historic weapons demonstration, the singing of O Canada, and a flag raising ceremony.

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Nearby, in front of the Langley Centennial Museum and B.C. Farm Museum and at the Fort Langley Community Hall, Canada Day celebrations continued with facepainting, music, food, and demonstrations by the Thunderbird Fast Draw Club.

• For more photos from the Fort Langley Canada Day celebrations, click here.

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