By Globe and Mail |

Physical distancing may have scuttled many newcomers’ citizenship ceremony plans, but this Canada Day a few will get to take their oaths virtually. Here are some recently sworn-in Canadians who will be there to help them

Every year on Canada Day, dozens of ceremonies take place across the country where permanent residents become Canadian citizens. People gather in a room filled with Canadian flags to sing the national anthem and take the Oath of Citizenship, pledging allegiance to the Queen and committing to follow the country’s laws. But that won’t be possible this year, since the federal government cancelled all citizenship ceremonies, tests and interviews more than three months ago because of COVID-19.

Before the pandemic, the government had planned to accept as many as 371,000 new permanent residents in 2020, a number that will drop dramatically because of lockdown measures. The number of people given permanent-resident status in April dropped by 80 per cent from the same period last year. Around 4,100 newcomers were processed, compared with 26,900 in April, 2019, according to a report by the Montreal-based Association for Canadian Studies.

The government expects a surge in applications when travel restrictions ease. In the meantime, the federal Ministry of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, the Institute for Canadian Citizenship, and MaRS Discovery District, which organized a discussion with new Canadians, are resuming some ceremonies. They will play host to Canada’s first cross-country virtual citizenship ceremony on Wednesday. Nineteen people, coming originally from 13 countries, will dial in from a dozen communities across Canada to take their citizenship oaths.

As part of the ceremony, there will be a virtual round-table discussion with new Canadians, who received their citizenship before the country-wide closings were announced. The Globe and Mail spoke with eight of the participants and asked them about their journeys and what advice they would like to share.

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