I moved to Montreal in 2003, and I’ve been a permanent resident since 2011. Both my kids are dual citizens, USA and Canada. Last year, Maj and I decided to take the plunge and become Canadian citizens, too.
I’d been holding off for a while. I love it here, but I’m also proud of being an American. My father’s family came from Jerusalem in 1952, and they’re proud of the life they’ve made in the US. My mother’s family goes back at least to the 1800s in New Jersey and New York; probably further.
It’s also hard to let go of certain things. I grew up in the US, and I learned early on that one of the defining properties of the country was having a republic with No More Kings. To become a Canadian citizen, you have to swear an oath to the queen, which felt like a step backwards and a betrayal of that essential American ethic.
But there was a point where it didn’t seem as important as it used to. And living as a resident alien and not participating fully in the democracy I lived in felt wrong. As we came up on the 10th anniversary of our permanent residence, and we had to renew it, it just felt natural to naturalize.
We did the papers last year, but because of COVID-19 it took a long time to process. We got our acceptance and invitation to take the citizenship test in late May, and we took it on June 8. We both passed with flying colours.
The last step is the citizenship oath ceremony. This used to happen in courthouses or city hall, but with the pandemic they now do the ceremony online. The immigration web site says that the ceremony should be scheduled within 3 months of the test.
Then, in August, the Prime Minister asked for a snap election. That’s part of the Canadian system; elections have to happen within 5 years, but they can happen more frequently for a number of reasons.
So, the federal election is set for September 20, 2021. We were hoping to get our invitation to the citizenship ceremony before September 8, 2021, three months after our citizenship test. With luck, we could register and vote by election day.
But no luck. We haven’t heard from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and our application hasn’t changed state for a few months. So, I don’t think we’re going to vote this cycle. Depending on how the election works out, we may cast our first vote in a Canadian federal election at the same time our currently 16-year-old daughter casts hers.
There’s a Montreal municipal election on November 7, so there’s still a chance we’ll get to put our citizenship to good use this year. Fingers crossed!