Last month I became a Canadian. It was 9 years almost to the day since I moved here and the immigration rules changed so frequently it was hard to keep up. But it’s done now and it was a great excuse to dress up in the national colors for the ceremony (red corduroy suit, white shirt – I don’t think anyone else got the joke except me) and dust off my GCSE French for the bilingual bits.
The most important skill in becoming a Canadian is patience. Despite the high fees the application process is far from equitable or efficient. There are various websites and forums to check up on how long other people are taking, but in my case these just created frustration. After passing the citizenship exam my application got mysteriously held up for 4 months whilst other people had their ceremony within a couple of weeks. Obviously, there isn’t a hotline you can call to ask why there is a delay so sitting tight is the only option.
Having been planning and waiting for so long, I really didn’t feel any different after the ceremony. Same with all the citizenship obligations – passing the exam, shotgunning a can of cheap lager, filling the wardrobe with lumberjack shirts, buying a chainsaw, developing an appreciation for pickup trucks, learning the rules of ice hockey (more complicated than you might think) and wearing shorts in the winter. What really hit home was when I got the passport and it said NATIONALITY – CANADIAN. Not Canadian / British, Canadian naturalized or Canadian adopted. Just plain Canadian.
Since Brexit I’m definitely not the only Brit seeking a new citizenship, but my intentions have been a lot different (hasn’t stopped all the Brexit related jokes to friends and family though…) I never really bought into the whole “EU citizenship” anyway, it seems like a manufactured concept designed to suit the superstate narrative. But being Canadian is actually a thing – I can vote in elections, run for office, apply for restricted government jobs and, unlike Permanent Residency, it’s not something that can ever be taken away. It also proves handy for cutting the border queues going into the US.
The biggest advantage though is that, having worked and traveled across the world for the last 15 years, I finally feel like I’ve found home!