Features / The Story of Us: How immigration Created Canada

Immigrants: Canada’s 150th anniversary and beyond

What will Canada look like in 2017 as it becomes 150-years old? What will it look like beyond that?

Surely, the tide of immigration will continue, but some think the flow will become more of a trickle as the years pass.

“I think it’s a fair assumption to think that there will be a lower level of immigration than the current level,” said Western University sociology professor Dr. Roderic Beaujot. “All the political parties have to posture themselves in favour of immigration, especially at election time, but people say we need immigration from a demographic and economic point of view.

“The problem is I don’t see the demographers and the economists saying that.”

Beaujot also sees the need to stem population explosions around the world as having an adverse effect on immigration.

“The world can’t sustain this continuous growth that we have,” he said. “The population has to live within the ecology. For that alone, it may slow down.”

Such weighty thoughts are worlds away for two young women, who recently became Canadian citizens.

Paula Garcia’s family came to Canada from Colombia seven years ago. Soon, the 23-year-old university student will be able to give back to the country that took her in, all while fulfilling a dream of her own.

She plans to be an elementary school teacher, in part, because she wants to offer children the best possible future.

“I love kids, so that’s what I thought would be the best thing for me,” she said. “I have the possibility to do this here now.”

The citizenship ceremony, Garcia said, was wonderful and while the test she had to pass to get there was difficult, it was fair. Naturally, she earned an A for her efforts.

She was one of 62 people who became a citizen during a March 26 ceremony in London, Ont.

Maria Qureshi, 32, originally from Pakistan, was there too.

She held a small Canadian flag in her hand and had a warm smile on her face as she talked afterwards.

“It’s like nervous excitement,” she said of the ceremony. “I had tears in my eyes when they first announced that we’re citizens, and I loved the judge’s speech. It was amazing.”

Citizenship Judge Normand Vachon quoted inspirational leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa and Mahatma Gandhi in his welcoming speech to the new Canadians.

Qureshi said the long wait for that day was difficult, but boasted that she too aced the citizenship test.

“I studied extra hard for it, and I took it really seriously,” she said proudly. “So I scored full marks on it.”

In Canada, she said she hopes for a better future because she has a better chance of being successful.

That was the common thread among many at the ceremony. They just want a fair chance to forge a good life for themselves, their children, and, to of course, be key players the Canada of tomorrow.

That’s what Vachon urged them to.

He told them to find a job, keep a job, make sure their children are clothed, fed, warm and in school. He suggested they get to know their neighbours become active and knowledgeable in politics.

And, perhaps most importantly for us all, he told them to make this country better than it was when they found it.

More on Metronews.ca