Urooj Qureshi has been a proud Canadian long before he officially becomes Canadian.
So it’s fitting that on Canada Day, the 26-year-old will be sworn in as a citizen of the country.
The Ottawa resident was eligible to become a citizen months earlier, but made a special request to be sworn in on July 1.
“It was the day I wanted since becoming a permanent resident,” said Qureshi, “so I’m really glad I got it.”
Originally from Pakistan, Qureshi studied mechanical engineering in Saginaw, Mich., for about six months when he transferred his credits to the University of Ottawa, arriving in Canada in August 2002. After graduation, he started his own communications agency specializing in intercultural communications.
“The community in Ottawa is fantastic and so welcoming,” he said. “Canada is a blessing.”
Shortly after arriving in Canada, he became heavily involved as a volunteer, and in his spare time, he runs, plays soccer and spends time in the Gatineaus, Kingsmere Lake, Meech Lake and at Lac Philippe.
“I’ve been in cities all around the world and there’s no place like Ottawa with the amount of green space and the outdoor activities available to us,” he said.
While he was the first in his family to come to Ottawa, his parents and two brothers have since joined him here. His brother, Saad, recently got his citizenship.
Because of that, he knows what to expect at his own ceremony at the Canada Aviation Museum on Canada Day.
“I’m excited and proud,” said Qureshi, who will become a dual citizen of Pakistan and Canada. “There’s been a lot of sacrifice to get to this point, and there is a lot to celebrate.”
An avid traveller, he’s happy to be able to get a Canadian passport, but said the “most important thing is the ability to vote.
“I’ll be able to participate in helping shape the community, and that’s something I’m really looking forward to,” he said.
Although he still has family in Pakistan and likes to visit whenever he can, Ottawa is now undeniably home, he said.