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June 18th, 2019 was, for many, a regular day; work, school, or another day struck off their calendar. It was not a regular day for me. It was a day I’ve waited almost 8 years for. It was the day I became a Canadian Citizen.

 

You see, I came to this great country by choice. I was not forced to leave my beloved island home, my life was not in danger, this was not a result of any displacement. I made a conscious decision to come here. Even though Jamaica has its fair share of challenges, as does any developing country, I lived a very good life. However, not being a victim of war or forced relocation did not make taking that Oath of Citizenship any less gratifying. I came, I saw and I overcame.

 

Between taking the Oath of Citizenship and singing “O Canada…” for the first time as a citizen, I went through a range of emotions. I was in the room with 48 other new Canadians, representing over 21 countries and though I would want to think that I am a “tough guy”, I did feel overwhelmed to the point of tears.

 

The last 7 years flashed back in my mind, moments that have now become beautiful memories.

 

The day I set foot on Canadian soil, with a serious disposition, the immigration officer asked while examining my documents, “What is your reason for coming to Canada?” While my mouth said, “I am here for school”, what I really meant was, I am here to make Canada my new home.

 

My job while in college was working Customer Service at the residence, earning 5 cents above minimum wage. I was cleaning toilets, mopping floors, and responding to calls alerting me to clean-ups needed for wherever college students had stumbled. It was a humbling experience, and ever since I have been skeptical about the “Other Duties As Assigned” in job postings. Those were some of the hard days, not only physically, but emotionally. More than once, I questioned my decision and if this is what I wanted for myself. Back in Jamaica, I had worked as a Community Practitioner, heading up projects and contributing to the decision-making process that influenced National development policies. I was changing lives, but as my older brother reminded me, “this was your decision, tough it out, you have to pay your dues” and that I did. I eventually graduated from college, with Honors, and while I eventually got very good at my job, shortly afterward I graduated from that job too and all the other tasks that were assigned.

Those moments flooded my mind and consumed my thoughts as I sat and listened to the speaker, “some of you have toiled, it has not been easy, but this is your moment, you have earned this, and now Canada is your home”.

 

So yes, I will not act as if it has been a bed of roses. There have been moments: of regrets, of missing family, bitter cold days and yes, incidents of discrimination. However, there have also been moments of deep satisfaction: many family visits, countless random acts of kindness, and beautiful weather. On any life journey, the combined seasons make it all worth it and as I stood and repeated the Oath of Citizenship, I felt a deep sense of pride and safety. This was not a “new beginning”, it was the continuation of a beautiful journey. Being Canadian does not mean I am any less Jamaican, for we do not need to neglect our roots, religion, and culture, but as a fellow New Canadian rightfully states, we instead have to bring them to Canada as contributions to its already rich heritage.

 

Now armed with a Canadian passport, upon my return from wherever life takes me, I am looking forward to hearing, “Welcome Home Mr. Campbell.”

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