Sharon Temple: birthplace of Canada’s multicultural democracy hosts enhanced citizenship ceremony
On August 14, 2019, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC), Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada, and the community of East Gwillimbury celebrated 37 new Canadian citizens from 16 countries at a special enhanced citizenship ceremony. The ceremony was held at the historic Sharon Temple National Historic Site and Museum. The temple is the newest member of the ICC’s Canoo program — which provides free access to museums, science centres, parks, and historic sites across the country.
A bright, breezy day greeted members of the East Gwillimbury community as they welcomed the new Canadian citizens. The day started with the ICC’s signature roundtable discussions offering the new Canadian citizens a chance to share their journeys to citizenship with members of the community, and for everyone to reflect on what being Canadian means to them. Some new citizens observed that the cold weather was a shock and they all agreed that people had been welcoming and kind. The feeling of safety that comes from living within Canada’s secure and calm atmosphere was noted as a feeling that many Canadians take for granted.
The site of this citizenship ceremony made it especially meaningful. The Sharon Temple was where Louis-Hippolyte LaFontaine sought the support of Anglophone Canadians for a North York byelection after being forced to withdraw from seeking a seat in his home riding of Terrebonne in 1841. LaFontaine was one of the architects of Canada’s immigration and citizenship policy. 180 years ago, he called for immigrants to come to Canada from around the globe, declaring that their children would be Canadians. He was a visionary who imagined an inclusive and egalitarian Canada stating, “…our political liberty can only be denied if we let go of the social equality that is a distinctive characteristic of our society”. His vision helped create the Canada that continues to welcome new Canadians today. This citizenship ceremony formed a proud part of that tradition.