Canadians celebrate true north

 

Those most excited to celebrate Canada Day in Langley were likely the 50 new citizens sworn in Tuesday morning at the Fort Langley National Historic Site.

“Very grateful, very happy, very honoured,” said Brenda Brewer, minutes after she was sworn in as a citizen.

Langley’s Roman Min, originally from Myanmar, left his home country as a child, heading to a refugee camp in nearby Thailand. When he was 23 he finally got the chance to come to Canada, and he’s been waiting and working towards getting his Canadian citizenship for the past four years.

“Very excited,” he said to describe how he felt just before the ceremony.

Jo and Paul Hillier came from England six years ago, planning to start a family and raise children here.

“We just felt they would have better opportunities here,” Jo said.

Citizenship Judge Dane Minor welcomed the new Canadians and helped lead them through the oath in both English and French.

“Because of you, we welcome an expansion of our Canadian family,” Minor said, noting that there were people from 19 different countries becoming new citizens.

“Most Canadians are relative newcomers,” Minor said, noting that he himself gained citizenship in the 1970s.

Langley MP Mark Warawa and Township Mayor Jack Froese also welcomed the new citizens.

“You have the freedom to be whatever you want,” said Warawa, who urged the new residents to get involved in their communities and exercise their rights to vote.

“You’re going to impact your children and their children, for generations to come,” said Froese.

Kevin Kelly, speaking for his wife, Kwantlen First Nation Chief Marilyn Gabriel, also noted that many of the new residents had likely come for a better future for their children. He urged them to celebrate the day.

“Not only Canada, but it’s your day today!” Kelly said.

Activities were taking place up and down the streets of the community.

Free horse-drawn carriage rides were being offered around the Fort, and volunteer blacksmiths were showing off their skills at the B.C. Farm Machinery Museum. 

In Langley Township at Willoughby Community Park, entertainment and multicultural events took place with numerous community groups represented among the many tents and booths.

This was the first year that the Langley International Festival and the Canada Day celebrations were under one umbrella, organized and presented together over four days starting on June 28 with a sports festival.

The event seems to have gone off without a hitch and with a high attendance, said Sarwan Singh Randhawa, with the International Festival Society.

“Towards the evening, it was packed,” Randhawa said about July 1.

The organizers estimated about 15,000 people took part.

“Everything went very well,” Randhawa said.

The Festival of the Book was underway at the Fort Langley Community Hall, and celebrations were taking place in Aldergrove.

According to the Township’s Peter Tulumello, between 8,000 and 10,000 people came to the area around the Centennial Museum in Fort Langley.

Around Willoughby Community Park, parking was in such short supply at some times that nearby homeowners rented out space to visitors.

According to Langley RCMP Cpl. Holly Marks, it was a very quiet Canada Day for police. Officers helped round up a few misplaced children at Canada Day events and caught a few teens with alcohol, but there were no other incidents.

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