Canadian citizenship ceremony held on Grosse Île

Photo: Shirley Nadeau

Cyril Trassard (far right) from Versailles, France, and his family have lived in Canada for 10 years. He was delighted that he and his wife Sandra and sons Joris and Ethan (far left) could finally become Canadian citizens.

Forty people from 12 different countries travelled by boat from Berthier-sur-Mer to Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site of Canada on May 23 and returned as Canadian citizens. 
 In celebration of the 150th anniversary of Canada’s Confederation, Parks Canada, in collaboration with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, hosted this special citizenship ceremony at Grosse Île. This highly symbolic site was the gateway to Canada and a quarantine station between 1832 and 1937. Tens of thousands of immigrants passed through there upon arrival in the country. More than 5,000, mostly Irish, lost their lives during typhus and cholera epidemics.
 Things were much easier for these new immigrants. After a 30-minute ferry ride across the St. Lawrence River to the island, situated some 10 kilometres from the northern tip of Île d’Orléans, the new immigrants, along with family and friends, members of the media, and government officials, were welcomed to Grosse Île by representatives of Parks Canada. A violinist played Québécois music as they came ashore and walked up the quay to the restored Immigration Centre that accommodated so many hopeful new Canadians many decades before them.  
 After everyone was seated in the starkly bare immigration hall, the ceremonial party was led into the room by an RCMP officer. 
All were welcomed by Michelle Leblond of Parks Canada, who acted as master of ceremonies. Maryse Lavigne, of Parks Canada, welcomed everyone to Grosse Île and presented all new citizens with a one-year free pass to all Parks Canada sites “from coast to coast to coast.”  
Judge Miriam Tachereau addressed the new citizens, saying, “It is with great pride and enthusiasm that I have the honour to preside over your citizenship ceremony, the final stage of the long process that you have all gone through with brio. Most of you have left behind family and friends to realize your dreams in a country you’ve chosen – Canada. I want to express how much I admire and respect each of you. Canada is a country that gives you many rights and privileges that allows you to explore your potential and showcase your talents.”
 Before having them take the oath of citizenship Judge Tachereau told them, “From now on our history is your history, our laws are your laws, our identity is your identity, and our responsibility to be good and faithful citizens is now your responsibility.” She ended by wishing them all the best in their new homeland. 
 As each candidate was named they came forward with their spouses and children to receive their citizenship certificates and to sign their oath. Following the ceremony those who wanted their photos taken with the dignitaries were invited outside on a deck overlooking the river. 
After a lunch served in the “First Class Hotel” of early immigrants to Grosse Île, everyone was invited to tour the island, either by walking around the west end to see the cemeteries and the Celtic Cross, or by taking a trolley ride to the eastern end of the island, to see the remaining century-old houses of the island staff and visit a restored Lazaretto or hospital ward for the very sick immigrants. On the way back, visits were made to the Catholic and the Anglican churches still standing on the island. 
At the end of a beautiful day, everyone boarded the Croisière Lachance Le Vent des Isles for a smooth ride back to the marina in Berthier-sur-mer. Many of the younger new Canadians nodded off to sleep during the return trip. Their parents were delighted to now officially be citizens of this great country. 
Bruno Gravel of Quebec accompanied his wife and new Canadian citizen Huguette Maroundou (right) originally from Gabon, with her son Jérémie (centre) and daughter Allison (far right), who seemed to be more interested in the waves washing up on the shore than smiling for the camera.    Photo by Shirley Nadeau

What a wonderful idea!  Thanks for reporting on this, Shirley!