They came to Canada from all over the world -- from Yemen and Ghana, to Poland and Australia, all looking to become Canadian citizens.

 

And for these 43 people from 23 countries yesterday, that’s exactly what happened as they celebrated our country’s birthday by being sworn in as Canadian citizens at a morning ceremony in Halifax.

 

“Canada is a better country to live in,” Mahmoud Abousharkh, an 18-year-old Palestinian, said after getting sworn in. “It’s one of the best countries in the world.”

 

One of the main reasons Abousharkh said he came to Canada was the “bad education” he would have received in his homeland.

The new Canadians stood inside Halifax’s Pier 21, a building that has seen one million immigrants pass through its doors, raised their right hands and recited an oath to become citizens of this country.

The location of the ceremony had a special importance for Ramya Rangalle, one of the new Canadians sworn in.

Her first job in Canada was at Pier 21, through the Welcome Home to Canada program. She worked as a research assistant in the archives at Pier 21 for six months.

“I finished my program in March, and I still stay in touch with people here because they’re my second family,” said Rangalle, who is from Sri Lanka.

Many Pier 21 employees were at the ceremony to cheer her on when she received her Canadian citizen certificate with her two children.

“It is a really nice place to live and to start a family,” she said, adding she thought Canada “would be the best place for them to grow up and study and enjoy freedom.”

Many of those sworn in were eager to celebrate their first Canada Day as Canadian citizens when the event wrapped up.

“I’m excited to celebrate my Canadian citizenship and Canada Day, both in one day,” Abousharkh said with a smile.