One of the biggest commitments a person can make to their new country is deciding to become a citizen. In order to apply for citizenship, you will need to have lived in Canada for a while, so it will likely already feel like home. Dual citizenship is permitted with Canadian citizenship, so as long as the country you are already a citizen of allows you to hold two citizenships, you can add being a Canadian to your plans.
Along with citizenship comes a number of rights and responsibilities including items from the Magna Carta (the Great Charter of Freedoms) which came from 1215 in England, Canada’s sovereign state. However, the Constitution of Canada was amended in 1982 to make the Canadian Charter of Rights a key part of the constitution.
The most important rights in the charter are:
- Mobility rights – the ability for a Canadian to live and work anywhere in the country and to apply for a passport to allow for free entry and departure from Canada.
- Aboriginal Peoples’ Rights – that the rights in the charter will not adversely impact a treaty or other rights of Aboriginal peoples.
- Official Language Rights and Minority Language Educational rights – French and English have equal status in Parliament and throughout government.
- Multiculturalism – respect of this characteristic of Canada’s heritage and identity to allow living in harmony.
- Democratic rights (voting).
- Legal rights.
- Freedom of religion; freedom of expression; freedom of assembly and association.
- Equality of men and women.
Along with the rights of being a Canadian citizen come responsibilities including:
- Obeying the law.
- Taking responsibility for oneself and one’s family (through work in keeping with one’s abilities).
- Serving on a jury if called to do so.
- Voting in elections.
- Helping others in the community (through volunteering).
- Protecting and enjoying heritage and environment.
- Paying taxes.
- Respect the rights and freedoms of others.
If you decide to become a Canadian citizen, you must meet the following conditions:
- Permanent resident status.
- Lived in Canada 1095 days during the five years immediately prior to signing the citizenship application.
- Paid income taxes.
- Proof of the ability to read and speak English or French.
- Take the citizenship test on basic information about Canada’s values, history, symbols, institutions and rights, responsibilities and privileges of citizenship.
- Are free of current criminal prohibitions.
Citizenship begins with meeting the conditions, and submitting an application. If you are eligible, you will receive a study guide to help you with the citizenship test and will be invited to a test and interview in your area. If your application is approved, you will be invited to a citizenship ceremony.
Citizenship ceremonies can be very moving and emotional as you will take the Oath of Citizenship, receive your citizenship certificate, sign the Oath and sing Canada’s national anthem, O Canada. Some of the ceremonies are held on special days like Canada Day on July 1 and often at special events throughout the country where many other Canadians celebrate with new citizens.