Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Governor General David Johnston join the inaugural recipients of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal for a photo following a ceremony in Ottawa.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper participated in the inaugural presentation of the Diamond Jubilee Medal to 60 Canadians who have made outstanding contributions to the country.
The Diamond Jubilee Medal was created in honour of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee. A total of 60,000 Diamond Jubilee Medals will be given to Canadians throughout the year.
Immigrants from all over the world come to Canada seeking new opportunities for themselves and their children. They come with varied qualifications and varied skill sets, and as they find employment and settle in, some make the transition relatively easily, others find it a little harder, take a little longer.
Most people who find success in this, their new country, agree that knowledge of English or French played a vital role in how quickly they found their feet.
“You can’t do anything without it,” says new Canadian citizen Silvia Sierra Valencia who moved to Toronto from Mexico after marrying her Canadian-born husband in 2006.* While initially focused on raising her two young children, she realized she had to learn English if she wanted to find a job, make friends, and participate in her children’s schools. A friend told her about the free English classes offered to adult permanent residents through the government settlement program.
“I have good memories of those classes,” commented Valencia. “My teacher was a beautiful person, with lots of patience. Little by little, she explained English words to me, and I began to pick up the language.” Learning English, however, was not easy. Like most people learning a new language, she was afraid of making mistakes when speaking. “It took me four years to become comfortable speaking English,” Valencia notes. But she persisted, and when it came time to write the citizenship test and have her language abilities assessed by a citizenship officer, she easily met the Canadian Language Benchmark 4 required of citizenship applicants. Today, she is a Canadian citizen.
Valencia’s story is proof that with patience, hard work and support, newcomers can participate fully in Canadian society as Canadian citizens.