I’m no longer a foreign troublemaker in Canada. I’m now a Canadian citizen troublemaker!
On 29. January, 2016, Ducky and I affirmed allegiance to the Queen of Canada, and completed our metamorphosis into Canadian citizens. It was a brief ceremony, an hour and a half made up of bureaucracy with a layer of pomp and ceremony. There were 80 new Canadians, from about 15 different countries. The couple next to us were from England and from Scotland — I wonder how they grappled with shifting their allegiance from the Queen of the United Kingdom to the Queen of Canada. We spent our first 45 minutes shuffling up to a counter, where our application was checked one last time. This was a formality; the filter was last November’s citizenship test. We sat in 80 numbered chairs, which ensured we were in the same order as the stack of 80 Certificates of Citizenship. We heard a speech. We recited the Oath (or in my case, Affirmation) of Citizenship, in English, then in French. (Thankfully, our presiding Judge Roy Wong had quite good French, unlike the cringeworthy mangle we heard at a high-profile Canada Day citizenship ceremony a few years ago.) We sang “O Canada”: mostly in English, keener me in the bilingual version. We filed past Judge Wong in our carefully numbered order, and received the correct Certificate of Citizenship. Most people went off to work. A few of us stayed for photos.
Interestingly, we lost our Canadian permanent resident cards in the transaction; we are now citizens, not permanent residents. If we were to visit the US soon, we might not be able to get back in to Canada. So our next task is to apply for Canadian passports. Hopefully, they will be mailed to us within a couple of weeks. Then we tell the NEXUS program about our changed status, and are free to scamper across the border again.
We don’t lose our US citizenship. It used to that 8 U.S.C. § 1481 took away your US citizenship, if you became a naturalized citizen of another country. But the US Supreme Court ruled (in Afroyim vs Rusk (1967), according to Wikipedia at least) that the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution overrules that Congressional statute. So now we stay US citizens until we express a clear intent not to be. And it’s a great situation to have: the privilege to live in a wonderful country like Canada, while still being able to travel and work in the USA. When first we moved to Canada, the cross-border tax expert, the late David Ingram, counseled us to get Canadian citizenship as soon as we could; for born US citizens it was all upside and no downside. He was right. Sure, we get the joy of filing both US and Canadian tax returns. But there are experts who help us with that, and a tax treaty that most of the time means each dollar is taxed by either Canada or the US, not by both.
For our first year as new citizens, we get free admission to thousands of parks and museums nationwide, thanks to the Cultural Access Pass. VIA Rail will give us 50% off a ticket, even a multi-week cross-country sleeper car trip. We are planning our adventures already! And we were touched by the enthusiastic welcome from Canadian friends on Facebook (and warm congratulations from US friends), also this one, and this one, and this one.
Oh, Canada, our home and (naturalised) land!