The country’s newest Canadian citizens had a surprise visit from the prime minister Wednesday during their swearing-in ceremony in Kelowna—and a humorous lesson in tolerance.
Justin Trudeau, who was not originally scheduled to appear at the citizenship ceremony in Stuart Park, made the short walk from the Delta Grand Hotel where his Liberal caucus was meeting to welcome the 60 new Canadians taking the citizenship oath with Immigration and Citizenship Minister Ahmed Hussen.
And while Trudeau was speaking about why he prefers the term acceptance to tolerance, a passerby who is obviously not a fan, yelled out an expletive at the prime minister.
Without pausing, Trudeau calmly looked up and simply said with a smile, “And I tolerate you too, sir.”
The quick response brought laughter from his audience, several of whom later said they were thrilled the prime minister showed up.
“(Trudeau’s appearance) made my day,” said Francine Nutley, originally from Wales, who moved to Kelowna seven years ago.
Along with her husband Ian and their two daughters, Olivia, 9 and Lucia, 11, Nutley said she has felt very welcome in her new country since arriving and was proud to become a Canadian citizen.
Her daughter, Olivia, called the citizenship ceremony fun and said what she likes about Kelowna is all the parks to play in, the lake to swim in and all the great friends she has made here.
Meanwhile, another family from the other side of the world was also celebrating after taking the oath of Canadian citizenship in Kelowna Wednesday.
Nelson Eziekwu and seven members of his family proudly waved the small Canadian flags given to them after being sworn in as new Canadians.
Earlier, the native of Nigeria, called Canada a “land of opportunity for everyone.”
And, he added, Kelowna, is the best place to raise a family.
The crowd also included 67-year-old Michael Jell, an artist from Vernon who came to Canada 50 years ago with his family.
Born in the African country of Zimbabwe, Jell said he felt it was time to become a citizen of the country he loves.
“Canada is everything I want in a country,” he said. “I feel very Canadian.”
And for good measure he added: “And I love hockey.”
In his address to the new Canadians, Trudeau said other country’s could do worse than to look at Canada and the way it does things, deals with problems and comes together as a nation.
“And let me be one the first to thank you for choosing Canada,” he said. “And for choosing to live your lives alongside us.”