Citizenship ceremony, other Canada Day festivities go ahead despite rainy Winnipeg skies

Intense showers may have dampened some Canada Day plans in Winnipeg, but not everyone is taking a rain check.

A ceremony saw 28 people from 12 countries officially become Canadian citizens on Monday morning. It was moved inside to the Lyric Theatre in Assiniboine Park due to the downpours.

Henry and Oreo Amogu took part in the ceremony. The married couple met in Nigeria, sticking together through bouts of long distance.

“Honestly, it’s just super exciting, and I’m grateful that we have the opportunity to do this together,” Henry told CBC before the ceremony.

“Whenever I do leave, I just always feel like I want to come back home, and Canada is home for me.”

Oreo says it’s a day she never thought she’d see.

“I’m really grateful that this is an option on Canada Day. It’s a little more symbolic,” she said.

Her father also travelled from Nigeria for the ceremony.

“His vision and all the hard work and the sacrifices that he made were worth it, so yeah, he’s happy,” she said.

Oreo says becoming a citizen helps her and Henry feel immersed in Canadian culture and politics, but also strengthens their hopes to grow a family in the country.

“It’s good to be a citizen to be able to [participate] in voting and things that make our lives better as a whole.”

‘A new beginning’

Shawket Dipra, who moved to Canada from Bangladesh in 2016, said he was excited for the ceremony despite the weather.

Freedom of expression is one of the main reasons he moved to Canada, and he’s excited to be able to vote.

“It comes with great responsibility. At the same time, I know this country was built by immigrants and also the Indigenous people,” he said before the ceremony.

“They worked hard to build this great country, and now I’m a part of it, so I’m really proud … I really want to do my part.”

A man holds up a certificate as his picture is taken by another person.
Shawket Dipra, who moved to Canada from Bangladesh in 2016, said freedom of expression is one of the main reasons he moved to Canada. (Darin Morash/CBC)

Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham said this year’s ceremony fits the theme of the city’s 150th birthday celebration, which is: “Our shared stories. Our shared future.”

“All of us have stories, but we are shaping our future together,” he said at the ceremony.

He urged the new citizens to give their all to Winnipeg and to Canada, but to also stay true to themselves.

“Do not lose your language, do not lose your culture, do not lose your best recipes,” he said. “Please pass them on to the next generation, because one of the beautiful things about our city is our diversity. It makes us stronger.”

Manitoba Immigration Minister Malaya Marcelino, who moved to Canada from the Philippines as a child, shared her family’s story at the ceremony.

She said the event symbolized “a new beginning” for the new Canadians to pursue their dreams, adding that immigration helps boost Manitoba’s economy and population growth.

Some festivities rained out

Outdoor activities at the bell tower in Osborne Village, which were supposed to begin at 1 p.m., were cancelled due to the rain, according to Osborne Village BIZ executive director Zohreh Gervais.

She says the show will go on in the area, but just indoors

“It’s one of those things that nobody can control, so there’s only so much we can do, but we look forward to hosting different events at the different venues indoors,” she told CBC.

Elsewhere in the city, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers released more tickets for their party at Princess Auto Stadium.

Things may change as needed at the event due to the weather, and they’re encouraging people to check online for updates. Artists are expected to hit the main stage at 3 p.m., with a fireworks show scheduled for 10:30 p.m., according to the website.

An Assiniboia Downs spokesperson says their Canada Day celebrations on Monday night are still a go.

Live horse races will begin at 7:30 p.m., followed by a fireworks display. Admission to the event is free, and parking is also free until 8 p.m., according to the spokesperson.

Bouncy castles, face painting and other free activities will also be available starting at 6:30 p.m., they said.