New data from Statistics Canada has shown that the percentage of permanent residents who obtain Canadian citizenship has declined significantly since 2001, according to the Institute for Canadian Citizenship (ICC). Although no reasons for the drop have been identified, ICC’s Director, Daniel Bernhard, says the Institute will be researching the root causes, but sees an opportunity here to address the decline.
ICC offers programming for newcomers, welcoming and encouraging them to pursue the path to Canadian citizenship. Like our sponsor groups, ICC wants to encourage newcomers to become citizens, learn about our history and culture, contribute to life in Canada and vote.
As our sponsorship groups interact with individual newcomers and families and share milestones, helping our new friends to learn more about Canada is always on our minds. Getting settled in a new place, coping with everyday life and celebrating those achievements are so important. Finding the right fit within the job market, the most appropriate ongoing housing and schooling for families become the first requirements but becoming more comfortable in community is also essential. From English classes to birthday parties, from job searches to recreational activities, we want to build stronger relationships and provide meaningful ways to learn more about Canada and become more involved in life in our communities.
What can we do to reinforce this path to citizenship? We can welcome and help integrate newcomers into our community and activities. We can continue to assist with problem-solving and advice. We can encourage those we sponsor to consider citizenship, assist them in finding information about requirements and introduce them to different cultural and ongoing educational opportunities. And, not be forgotten, is that those we sponsor can participate in ICC’s CANOO program, which provides free visits to historic sites in Canada, museums, galleries, and parks.