New Canadians, young and old, celebrate citizenship

Photo by LS Valerie LeClair, MARPAC Imaging Services

Photo by LS Valerie LeClair, MARPAC Imaging Services

Peter Mallett, Staff Writer ~

Eighty-five people from 23 different countries were officially welcomed aboard as Canadians in a citizenship ceremony hosted by Maritime Forces Pacific on Aug. 16 at Duntze Head.

With an overflow crowd of supporters looking on, the new Canadians took their Oaths of Citizenship, were presented their citizenship certificates, cheered, embraced family members and loved ones and then sang O’ Canada.

Youngest among this new group of citizens was 15-month-old Wesley Yuki Lau who comes to Canada from Yokosuka, Japan. Wesley Lau is the newly adopted son of Lieutenant Commander Jimmy Lau, a Submarine Technical Officer in Canada’s Submarine Force, and his wife Crystal Lau, who works as a Registered Nurse at Victoria General Hospital. Although Wesley is young and likely won’t remember the ceremony, LCdr Lau said it’s a moment he and his wife will never forget.

“It took a lot of paperwork and we are very happy to get this done before my next posting,” said LCdr Lau. “This moment really marks the beginning of a great new chapter in Wesley’s life and thankfully we will have the pictures to show him when he gets older.”

The citizenship process was a fairly stressful one for LCdr Lau and his wife because they were in a race against the clock to have citizenship granted before the family moves to England. After Labour Day, LCdr Lau will be cracking open the books during a 16-month posting in a sponsored post graduate program at the University College of London studying for his Masters in Naval Architecture.

Jimmy and Crystal met in 2006 and had their minds set on adopting a child prior to their marriage in 2012. Wesley was placed with the Lau’s in Japan when he was just one-month old in June 2016, but Wesley’s adoption wasn’t officially finalized until Feb. 17 of this year.

“With my ethnicity being Chinese and Crystal being Canadian/European, Wesley blends in very nicely as a family unit,” said LCdr Lau. “We chose Wesley Yuki Lau as his name because he will have a Canadian first name, a Japanese middle name and a Chinese last name, which is a great representation of who he is.”

Reacting to the joy expressed by the participants in obtaining their citizenship, LCdr Lau said he could relate to the experiences of the other new citizens. That’s because he is an immigrant himself who came to Canada with his family in 1992 when they moved to Toronto from Hong Kong.

“For me, I felt proud to become part of something great, a nation of hockey and poutine,” said Lau. “Canada has a unique identity that Hong Kong as a British Colony at the time, did not. Participating in the citizenship ceremony was remarkable because I actually felt more like a Canadian than most of my friends because I had to take the Oath and sing the anthem in a ceremony presided over by a judge, rather than it just being by birthright.”

While Wesley Lau was too young to officially take the Oath of Citizenship (children under the age of 14 aren’t officially required)LCdr Lau and Crystal were presented with Wesley’s official citizenship papers by Citizenenship Judge Gerald Pash following the conclusion of the ceremony. Judge Pash noted during his remarks that Canada welcomes 300,000 new immigrants each year and that 85 per cent of them will eventually become citizens of Canada. He wished them all well during his final address at the conclusion of the ceremony.

“Tomorrow, for the first time you will all wake up in the morning as Canadian citizens,” said Judge Pash. “You are no longer guests; you have a place at the table.”

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