ARCHIVED – Operational Bulletin 296 - April 15, 2011

This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by IRCC staff. It is posted on the department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.

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Operational instructions related to the participation of members of the Canadian Forces and veterans at citizenship ceremonies

Purpose

This Operational Bulletin (OB) provides instructions regarding the participation of members of the Canadian Forces (CF) and veterans at citizenship ceremonies.

Background

A variety of initiatives have been outlined under the Citizenship Action Plan to make citizenship more meaningful for new and established Canadians. The presence of Canada’s role models such as members of the CF and veterans at ceremonies is one way to underline the importance of the rights and responsibilities of citizenship outlined in “Discover Canada”. The participation of CF members and veterans at ceremonies exemplifies active citizenship.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) has been working with the Department of National Defence and the Department of Veterans Affairs to outline partnerships for the involvement of active serving members of the CF, as well as veterans, at citizenship ceremonies. Preference, when possible, is for a veteran or serving member who has completed a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

CF members and veterans can play a variety of roles during the citizenship ceremony:

  • If there is a platform party, they should be part of the platform party, entering and exiting the ceremony room along with the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official and other guests;
  • If applicable, they may be seated in a reserved seating section, and asked to stand and be recognized by the citizenship judge or presiding official during their remarks;
  • They may be part of the receiving line, congratulating new citizens as they come forward and receive their citizenship certificates during the ceremony;
  • They may be asked to distribute items to new citizens such as a Canadian flag or pin; and
  • If appropriate, they may briefly address the new Canadians with a short 2 to 3 minute speech.

Operational Instructions

The goal is to have a CF member or veteran present at all citizenship ceremonies, therefore all efforts should be made to ensure that a CF member or veteran is in attendance at citizenship ceremonies, and certainly at all off-site (enhanced) ceremonies, where a platform party or other special guests are in attendance.

As with the process for the involvement of the RCMP or volunteer presiding officials at ceremonies, in the initial stages of planning for citizenship ceremonies, local CIC office staff should contact their CF/veteran representative (*), discuss participation at upcoming citizenship ceremonies and identify a CF member or veteran to take part in ceremonies.

Annex A: Information Sheet on Participation at Citizenship Ceremonies can be used during initial discussions between local CIC staff and CF members or veterans, about upcoming ceremonies.

In addition, local offices are encouraged to accommodate veterans and CF members by looking into whether these guests have any special needs (i.e. a physical handicap) that must be planned for, in order to ensure that the event proceeds as anticipated.

* Contact information for CF/veteran participation will be provided by NHQ to regional/local CIC offices.

The citizenship judge or presiding official must acknowledge the presence of the CF member or veteran at the ceremony in the words of welcome to the new citizens during the judge’s or presiding official’s opening remarks, where active citizenship through military service or during war time is referenced. The CF member or veteran in attendance should also be officially recognized and thanked for their service and dedication to Canada. The following are suggested speaking points:

In the words of welcome:

We are honoured to have with us here today (insert name) ______________________, who is a (member of the CF/a veteran of the _____). We give thanks to the men and women who wear/wore the Canadian uniform and serve /have served our country.

In the opening remarks:

As a Canadian citizen, you live in a democratic country where individual rights and freedoms are respected. Thousands of brave Canadians have fought and died for these rights and freedoms. The commitment to Canada of our men and women in uniform should never be forgotten or go un-recognized. We thank them.

We are very fortunate to have _____________________ with us here today (ask the guest CF member of veteran to stand) who is a veteran of _______________ or a member of the Canadian Forces. (Insert brief biographical notes on the CF member or veteran; e.g. when they joined, when and where they served)

If it is planned that the CF member or veteran will be delivering a short speech, then a short biography should be included upon official introduction. The information provided may include details such as when he/she joined the military, his or her trade, as well as the tour(s) of duty, conflict(s), mission(s) they served (e.g. Afghanistan, Korean War, WWII, etc.). The CF member or veteran can talk about the link between citizenship and serving our country, and the role the military serves on the world stage. He or she also welcomes the new Canadians.

When a reception follows the citizenship ceremony, it is recommended that the CF member or veteran mingle with new citizens and their guests, and be available for photos.

Dress for the ceremony is uniform with medals for current members of the armed forces; and veteran blazer or business attire with medals for veterans.

In order to address questions from clients or guests regarding the presence of CF members and veterans at citizenship ceremonies, please refer to the attached Questions & Answers (see Annex B).

Upon completion of the ceremony and reception (if one was planned), local offices may wish to encourage veteran or CF members to provide feedback about the ceremony. By remaining cognisant of the experiences and suggestions that guests share, repeat participation for the initiative can be maintained. It is also recommended that local offices prepare letters of commendation directed to veterans or CF members who participate in citizenship ceremonies, thanking them and their department for their continuing support and participation in the initiative. Thank you cards are available, and can be ordered through the normal distribution channel.

Annex A: Information Sheet on Participation at Citizenship Ceremonies

Your participation at citizenship ceremonies

Service in the military is one of the highest expressions of citizenship. To recognize this contribution and sacrifice, Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) invites active members of the Canadian Forces and veterans to participate at citizenship ceremonies.

The following outlines what you need to know about participating at citizenship ceremonies.

Note: Staff from the CIC office in your area will contact you to confirm your participation at one or more of their upcoming ceremonies.

Types of citizenship ceremonies

Citizenship ceremonies usually take place in a room located within the local CIC office, but sometimes special ceremonies take place outside local offices, in venues such as community centres, schools, museums, etc.

There are usually between 75 and 100 new citizens at a citizenship ceremony held in a local office, depending on the seating capacity.

Roles and responsibilities

You may be asked to participate in a variety of ways:

  • You may be part of the platform party, entering and exiting the ceremony room with the citizenship judge or presiding official and other special guests;
  • You may be asked to stand and be recognized for your service by the citizenship judge or presiding official during their remarks;
  • You may be part of the receiving line, congratulating new citizens as they come forward and receive their citizenship certificates during the ceremony;
  • You may be asked to distribute commemorative items to new citizens;
  • You may be asked to briefly address the new Canadians with a short 2-3 minute speech. You would speak about your personal story, your trade in the military, the role of the military on the world stage, and welcome the new Canadians.

Dress

Dress for a citizenship ceremony is uniform with medals for active CF members and veteran blazer or business attire with medals for veterans.

Time Required

Each ceremony will take approximately two hours of your time. You should arrive about 30 minutes before the ceremony for a final briefing and to meet staff or other special guests.

The ceremony itself usually lasts about 40 to 60 minutes. The new citizens may ask you to pose for pictures with them after the ceremony or at the reception if there is one.

Thank you for your involvement!

Contact information

Annex B: Questions & Answers regarding the presence of Canadian Forces members and veterans at citizenship ceremonies

Q: Why are Canadian Forces (CF) members and veterans of the Canadian military invited to citizenship ceremonies?

A: Veterans and active members of the Canadian armed forces are invited to citizenship ceremonies in order to identify and publicly recognize the contributions of the military in Canada. Canadian men and women in uniform exemplify the meaning of civic responsibility and demonstrate true active citizenship. They have made sacrifices and put their lives at risk in order for us to enjoy our rights and freedoms and work to preserve them for future generations. It is also to show Canadians the importance of a positive military presence in Canada.

Q: Can members of the CF or veterans present at citizenship ceremonies answer questions about the role of our military in current conflict zones?

A: No. CF members and veterans present at citizenship ceremonies represent their respective organizations by wearing their distinctive uniform or blazer with decorations. If asked to speak during the ceremony, they address the audience and speak about their own experiences and Canadian pride. Questions related to the role of their organizations on the world stage should be directed to media contacts or representatives (Citizenship and Immigration Canada and Veterans Affairs Canada) or to a Public Affairs Officer in the case of the Department of National Defence.

Q: Can CF members or veterans present at ceremonies advise new citizens and guests to join the Canadian military?

A: No. Instructions have been provided to local citizenship offices and to the Departments of National Defence and Veterans Affairs Canada that CF members and veterans are not at citizenship ceremonies for recruitment purposes.

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