Fully British. Fully Canadian.
After five years of intermittent form-filling, photo taking, document finding and fees, it’s hard to believe that the paperwork is over and we are Canadian citizens. We have dual nationality. A milestone in our adventure celebrated in a school hall where we took the oath of citizenship (we affirmed we didn’t swear!) with forty-five other new Canadians. Together we were from twenty-two different countries. Amazing. It did make us giggle a bit to pledge allegiance to the Queen ‘and all her successors’. When you’re born British that seems such a funny thing to have to do.
Now, if one of our children was a world-class tennis player or Olympic athlete they would have to choose which country to represent. A dilemma that they’re unlikely ever to face, but you never know!
A day later a person I was serving at work asked me how I had got my job as so many Canadians need jobs. A bit dumbfounded and not wanting to go through all that we’ve been through to qualify to be here and to work, and the fact that the Provincial and Federal government encourage immigration, I eventually answered that I am a Canadian citizen. By one day, yes, but still.
I had been confronted similarly before, and it is not a pleasant feeling to sense resentment. To be unwanted. I’ve thought of immigrants in Britain who experience similar attitudes from some. Xenophobia can be found in every country I’m sure. The issue is never straightforward – and I’m not suggesting either that the United Kingdon and Canada face quite the same challenges. It’s complex. In Canada, and particularly in the Maritime provinces, there is a huge need for people to move here to live and work as the population is so small.
Many more people have congratulated us so I don’t want to dwell on the negative. On the whole I’ve had high fives, smiles and welcomes. For us it just made sense to become citizens. It’s about being part of the community we’re living in right now and security for our family in the future. Our children can choose to live in the UK or Canada or a bit of both without worrying about losing the right to live here (unless they do something really bad). Once we’ve saved up to get our Canadian passports travel in and out of the US will be easier.
For me being able to vote is important. It’s been a strange experience living somewhere and not being qualified to have a say at all. Now I’ll really have to get my head around Canadian politics. We’re fortunate to be citizens of two great nations and, after all the studying we had to do to pass the test, are very aware of all the rights and responsibilities that brings.
Tim quips that we now have not only dual citizenship, but triple citizenship. British, Canadian and Heavenly. One we were born into, one we qualified for and the other received as a gift. The experience of being an immigrant alien and then becoming a citizen makes this verse from Ephesians mean so much more,
‘So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God…’ Ephesians 2:19
Of course, the big difference being that we’ve earned our Canadian citizenship, but done nothing to deserve the heavenly one. as it says earlier in the chapter,
‘For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.’ Ephesians 2:8-9
Not entitled, not earned, but given. We don’t qualify, but God qualifies us, because of Jesus. Taking hold of that truth in my mind and my heart has changed my life. What’s more as a member of the body of Christ – the church – I get to be part of a demonstration of the uniting power of the gospel. So many individuals come together from different nationalities and social backgrounds all on a level playing field; none deserving, but all experiencing amazing grace and the transforming power of the gospel. Not exclusive, wanting all to know the love of Jesus. It’s enabled me to move across the world, knowing that even in the pain of leaving family behind we do have a family we belong to wherever we are and knowing that ultimately we’re looking forward to an even better country than this…