By Vlad Umnov
One of the best ways to learn the history of Canada is a trip to Ottawa – the capital of Canada! Attendees of Mennonite New Life Centre of Toronto (MNLCT) Citizenship classes know this better than anyone.
These classes help newcomers who are ready to become Canadians prepare for the citizenship test. MNLCT offers two types of classes for Spanish-speaking and Arabic-speaking participants.
We dreamed about a trip to Ottawa and discussed it with our classmates,” says Spanish class participant Patricia.
She moved to Canada from Venezuela in 2016 and was preparing to apply for Canadian citizenship. MNLCT settlement staff helped her prepare her application and send it to Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC).
Three months later, Patricia received an answer – she would soon be ready for the citizenship test. Spanish-speaking citizenship classes helped her and her classmates a lot.
“We decided to plan a trip to Ottawa for the end of August. Our friends from the Arabic-speaking citizenship classes also decided to join us,” says Patricia.
“Many of my classmates wanted to visit Ottawa,” says Laila, an Arabic class participant. Laila is originally from Iraq. She moved to Canada six years ago, as did Patricia.
We contacted our class instructor, shared our plans and organized fundraising to help classmates who could not pay for the train or hotel.”
Finally, the group of more than 20 people, including a few MNLCT staff members, arrived in Ottawa. It was an emotional and educational experience. During the trip, the group went on a bus tour of the city, visited the Canadian Museum of History, walked downtown, and toured the Parliament. “The guide told us the history of Parliament, showed us where members of Parliament pass laws and where the Prime Minister’s office is,” says Patricia.
“And after that there was an unexpected surprise,” adds Laila. “We were invited to an emotional ceremony in the garden of the Canadian Parliament. The MNLCT instructors presented us with certificates of congratulations – for completing our Citizenship classes, passing the test and acquiring the Canadian citizenship certificates and status. It was an incredible event in the heart of Canada – on Parliament Hill.”
In the evening, the group celebrated with a dinner.