From fall colours to citizenship, so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend

One of the nicest things about the timing of Canadian Thanksgiving is that it comes during this beautiful though fleeting season of autumn. It’s the time of year when nature paints the trees in stunning shades of reds, golds, yellow, and every combination in between. It’s the time of year where around every turn you see yet another tree that takes your breath away. It’s the time of year when you can’t decide which colour is your favourite or which particular tree in town is your favourite. Or whether a single tree, standing alone in its splendor, is more beautiful or a whole hillside full of colour. It’s the time of year when you can’t decide whether the leaves glow more in the sun or just after a rain. What an amazing gift of nature.

Trees outside my kitchen window, my favourite fall leaf colour

When I was growing up in the northeast of the U.S., they weren’t kidding when they sang, “Now is safely gathered in, ere the winter storms begin.” In the northeast it was cold and dark at the end of November for American Thanksgiving, and the leaves had long since fallen. Having Thanksgiving come on the second Monday of October brings us the very best of fall in eastern Canada. The spectacular colours around each turn and the mild weather in the mid-teens (60s F) are more than enough to be thankful for.

Tree at the front of our driveway, not a bad runner-up for first prize!

But an event we attended yesterday reminded us that we have something more to be thankful for. Something to add to our list of wonderful family, friends, and colleagues for whom we are enormously and eternally thankful. Something to add to the joy of fall colours and lingering mild weather. Yesterday we had the privilege of attending a citizenship ceremony, which took place in the auditorium of a local high school. An auditorium full of families and friends gathered to watch 61 people from 21 countries become some of Canada’s newest citizens. Sixty-one people from 21 countries. In this one part of our small province, with no major centre of population bigger than 70,000. Think about it. Think about the range of life experiences that brought them to Canada, a country with some pretty challenging winter weather, far away from most of the countries they came from. Far away from the first languages many of them spoke. Far away from war and persecution that some of them fled. There were families with small children, early-career professionals, and some older folks. And here they are in this little corner of the world, a corner hardly on the radar for most people, building new lives and adding richness to the character of our region. We are blessed to have these new citizens. Not a single person in the audience or in the group of new citizens had anything but a big smile on their face throughout the ceremony, well, except for one or two squirming babies! And most of us in the audience spent a fair bit of time dabbing at tears of emotion. I sure did.

Those of us for whom citizenship is a given don’t stop to think about the enormity of citizenship. It allows us to fully participate in the society in which we live, to vote, to get involved and even run for public office. To have a voice.  It allows us freedom of movement – depending of course on where you’re thinking of traveling to. It provides us with an anchor, it provides us with an identity.

I should explain that the reason we were attending this citizenship ceremony was to watch one of our community’s Syrian families gain their citizenship, a family I have gotten to know well over the past few years. They were four of the 25,000 Syrian refugees who were the first arrivals to Canada after the Trudeau government changed the policy of the previous government and opened our doors to the refugees, 300 or so of whom have settled in our part of New Brunswick. They are a family who had had to flee their home and their country 6 years previously and had been living as refugees in Jordan. A lovely family with two delightful, smart, busy young children. It is a joy to be able to say that they are all well on their way to making their new self-sufficient lives in Canada, a place very far away from war-torn Syria. Even more war-torn this week, very sad to say.

My Syrian family becomes Canadian

Sitting in the high school auditorium yesterday, seeing my Syrian family and the other new Canadians in front of me, all proudly clasping their Certificates of Citizenship, I thought of my own Canadian Certificate of Citizenship, granted nearly 50 years ago. As our Thanksgiving weekend approaches, I am very, very thankful that I made that decision way back then and that Canada granted me the privilege and responsibility of Canadian citizenship.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! And enjoy every day of fall, one and all!!

Fall colours on full display in local schoolyard

P.S. Fellow Canadian citizens, don’t forget to exercise your right to vote on October 21. There’s nothing more important. Let your voice be heard.

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24 Responses to From fall colours to citizenship, so much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving weekend

  1. Chocoviv says:

    Proud to be Canadian….

  2. How good it is to be welcomed into Canada and share in the ceremony. There is so much adversity and pain in relocation decisions like these. Our young engineer from work moved across to Canada. It was tough for him initially but he seems to have settled in now. Bless you Jane for being part of his destination. 🤗

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Lol. Moving from South Africa to Canada would definitely be an adjustment, especially in the winter! Hopefully your young engineer has found us welcoming. Even for refugees like our Syrians, for whom being able to come provided safety and a future for their kids, have left behind so much: their culture, their language, their extended families, and their heritage. They are so brave.

  3. Jean says:

    We’re here in Jasper National Park this weekend….so much for us to be grateful as citizens and residents in Canada. The news right now about Syria in the international news has…helpfully tone down the anti-immigrant sentiment that was playing out in some of the messages from candidates and ….Canadian voters.

    Just this weekend, I learned more about the Jasper and Yellowhead highway area history and its natural beauty. If one doesn’t have a thxgiving dinner with full on family (since my family is in Ontario), then nothing better than to spend this weekend enjoying and learning more about another corner of Canada, our home country.

  4. iidorun says:

    How wonderful you got witness their citizenship ceremony. As an immigrant myself, becoming a citizen is such an emotional experience. Happy thanksgiving! Enjoy those gorgeous colors!

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Thanks, Irma. May I say, the US is lucky to have you! And I agree about it being emotional. I think as citizens-by-choice rather than citizens-by-birth we are a bit more aware of the gift of citizenship.

      • iidorun says:

        Thank you, Jane! Although I have to say, some days the US doesn’t seem to appreciate us, citizens-by-choice, that much (love that phrase by the way!). And I totally agree – the appreciation of this country seems deeper for those of us who know just how much our chosen country has to offer.

        • Jane Fritz says:

          The reality of the backlash on the part of some people against immigrants (really non-white) is sad beyond measure. I think that sentiment is less the case here in Canada, and certainly not from our leaders, but I’d be naive to say that it’s absent from the hearts of every Canadian. 😥

        • iidorun says:

          You’ve hit the nail on the head regarding why some people are anti- immigrant – Racism and colorism go hand in hand and can be found around the globe. There is no easy remedy for hate of this ilk.

        • Jane Fritz says:

          There’s no easy remedy, but if we could leave it kids, who mix in classrooms and playgrounds happily colourblind, and they didn’t go home to families that pointed out differences and instilled their biases, we could overcome racism pretty darn fast. We aren’t born racist. It breaks my heart.

  5. Paulie says:

    Excellent post. And a joyous Thanksgiving to you

  6. Reblogged this on Musings and Wonderings and commented:
    Thanks for these thoughts, it certainly makes me think a little more deeply about being Canadian.

  7. So wonderful to see Syrians find freedom in a new and welcoming country. Good for them. Thanks for sharing their joy. – Marty

  8. Emilia says:

    Interesting to read your post today! As we walked through the streets of Berlin this afternoon we passed hundreds of people that I could bet were refugees at some point (not long ago). As in Canada, Germany opened their doors to a considerable number of immigrants and at some point I was thinking aloud how difficult it must have been for most of them to adapt to such a different culture and , in this country, the language. Still there seems to be an harmony within the people going about their business with children and particularly babies, everywhere.
    The other interesting thing tonight was to watch part of the festival of lights. It is mostly about the coming down of the wall and the joy of people getting together. Quite moving. Tomorrow we will see some more.
    Unfortunately, wars seem to continue everywhere…

    • Jane Fritz says:

      Yes, Germany really stepped up to the plate. Some of “my” Syrian family’s siblings are in Germany. You are in midst of so much history, both heartbreaking and heartwarming.

  9. Thank you for a wake up call for us Canadians born here and never experiencing the horrors of war and forced relocation.

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