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40 new Canadians to be sworn in at Steveston Salmon Festival

Richmond’s Maricel Cabral, joined by her three-year-old son Xavier, said it will be a proud moment when she takes the oath of citizenship during the special Canada Day swearing-in ceremony during the Steveston Salmon Festival on July 1.  - Martin van den Hemel
Richmond’s Maricel Cabral, joined by her three-year-old son Xavier, said it will be a proud moment when she takes the oath of citizenship during the special Canada Day swearing-in ceremony during the Steveston Salmon Festival on July 1.
— image credit: Martin van den Hemel

When Maricel Cabral takes her oath to become a Canadian citizen at this year’s Steveston Salmon Festival, her parents who are visiting from the Philippines will be there to witness it.

Cabral, 31, will be among 40 people who are sworn in during a special hour-long ceremony that begins at 8:30 a.m. on Tuesday, July 1.

“I’m sure I’m going to cry,” Cabral said as her three-year-old son Xavier kicked around a ball in their home’s backyard.

Cabral’s story is like so many who have moved to Richmond from the Philippines. She’s seeking a better life for her family, and knows that in Canada, if you work hard, the rewards will follow.

Her grandmother already lives in the Lower Mainland, and Cabral is seeking to sponsor her 24-year-old brother and 22-year-old sister to come here too.

It was nine years ago that Cabral first moved to Canada, initially working as a live-in caregiver. She’s now married to Ivan, and they have a three-year-old son, Xavier.

Canada has a stellar international reputation, and it’s no different in the Philippines, she said.

“Everybody wants to come here,” she said, adding it will be a proud moment when she reads out the oath with dozens of other candidates.

Cabral said Canada’s health care and education systems translate into a brighter future.

She’s now working as a home support worker, helping seniors with bathing, medicine and meals, she said.

Her husband works for a group home, working with adults with mental disabilities.

Had she stayed in the Philippines, which remains a Third World country, even a college education doesn’t guarantee a better future.

Cabral said in order to work at a McDonalds in the Philippines, you need a degree.

The Canada Day ceremony will feature a judge who will swear in the candidates, Richmond Mayor Malcolm Brodie will serve as master of ceremonies, the Richmond Delta Youth Orchestra will provide a string quartet, and Richmond’s Audrey De Boer will sing “O Canada.”

It’s the first year the Salmon Festival has had a citizenship swearing-in ceremony.

Said federal Citizenship and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander: "Canada is proud to hold its first citizenship ceremony at the Steveston Salmon Festival and welcome 40 new citizens into the Canadian family.

"Canada Day is a day to reflect upon what it means to be Canadian and to re-affirm our commitment to upholding Canadian values, such as democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law.  It is a day to recognize both the rights and responsibilities of citizenship including civic engagement. This special day provides us all with an opportunity to think about how we can get more involved in our communities, whether in Richmond or elsewhere, perhaps even by volunteering with newcomers to Canada and teaching them about our country, history and traditions.

"As Canada’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, it gives me great pleasure to wish you Happy Canada Day!"

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