Jamie Fassett fell in love with Canada as a child.
A native of Rockford, Ill., it took just one visit for him to realize one day he wanted to call the wilderness of Northwestern Ontario home.
On Wednesday, 12 years after arriving in the country, his wife and three sons made it official.
The family was among 42 immigrants who took the oath and were sworn in as Canadian citizens.
It was a proud day in the Fassett household.
“My father, when I was about five years old, brought me to Canada on a fishing trip. We used to vacation in Northwestern Ontario. Ever since then I’ve always wanted to be here,” he said, moments after taking the oath.
“I wanted to own a tourist camp and thought it would be a great life, to raise our family in the middle of Northwestern Ontario fishing and hunting every day.”
Though his wife didn’t initially jump at the opportunity, she eventually came around and the family made the trek north of the border.
About six years ago they decided to seek out citizenship.
“We got our permanent resident status and in 2011 we applied for citizenship. It’s something I’ve always wanted to do since I’ve been here, but it took time,” he said. “There are a few hoops to jump through and a lot of paperwork and background checks. It’s taken awhile.”
Son Jonah Fassett said he’s grown up Canadian and really doesn’t know any other life, despite being born and originally raised in Rockford, Ill.
“I’ve been experiencing it for the last 12 years, but it means a lot to be official now,” he said.
The 42 new citizens, who came from all four corners of the globe, were sworn in by Mississauga citizenship judge Wojciech Sniegowski, himself a 1983 immigrant who came to Canada from his native Poland, took a job as a taxi driver and spent 22 years in the television news industry.
Encouraging the country’s newest citizens to take full advantage of their right to vote, he also reminded them that Canada was built on volunteerism, and finally told them it’s OK not to forget their roots while forging a new life in their new home.
Sniegowski said it’s not easy to become a Canadian, adding everyone must past a rigorous set of criteria before being considered.
“There are a number of requirements. Obviously they have to make an application. They have to speak English or French at a certain level. They have to have a knowledge of Canada, which is really now more evolved,” he said.
It might actually make them more knowledgeable than many born-and-bred Canadians, he said.
“I would think that the majority of Canadians would have problems with passing the tests, which require a lot of learning.”
Other requirements include a clean criminal record and a minimum residency stay.
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