Orientation sessions and rehearsals for citizenship ceremonies
This section contains policy, procedures and guidance used by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada staff. It is posted on the Department’s website as a courtesy to stakeholders.
A rehearsal for an unusually large or enhanced ceremony can help citizenship staff, host organizations and volunteers identify and avoid potential problems.
The sequence of events for an enhanced citizenship ceremony should be reviewed by and discussed ahead of time with everyone playing a part in the ceremony. A walk-through or rehearsal may also help to clarify all the details before the event.
A rehearsal should be scheduled at a time when everyone can attend. Staff should run through the ceremony, using stand-ins for special guests, etc. If a host organization plans to use a youth group (for example, Girl Guides or Boy Scouts) to welcome people to the ceremony and show them to their seats, the youth group should be included in the rehearsal.
If there is not enough time to rehearse, citizenship staff should at least check the stage, lighting, sound system and so on.
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Orientation for volunteer presiding officials
The clerk of the ceremony should:
- Give a tour of the ceremony facilities.
- Have the volunteer presiding official attend a citizenship ceremony, if they have not already done so. Point out the positive elements of how the presiding official conducted the ceremony that day and confirm the new volunteer presiding official is still interested in presiding.
- Give a brief explanation and overview of the citizenship process.
- Review the booklet, Presiding at Citizenship Ceremonies: A Guide for Volunteer Presiding Officials. Reiterate certain key elements about the speaking points:
- short personalized story
- bilingualism when possible
- rights and responsibilities
- focus on candidates
- no personal points of view
- celebratory tone
- Ask if they have any questions
- Address the usual order of precedence for the procession, typical sequence of events, recognition of Indigenous territory, dress code, etc.
- Inform the volunteer presiding officials that they will receive special themed-speaking points on certain occasions during the year, such as:
- Flag Day
- Canada Day
- National Indigenous Peoples Day
- Citizenship Week
- Inform the volunteer presiding official that speeches are reviewed by the local office.
- Inform the volunteer presiding official of the importance of bilingualism at citizenship ceremonies.
- Determine the bilingual language capabilities of the volunteer presiding official in order to assign them to a predominantly single-language or bilingual ceremony.
- Invite the volunteer presiding official to practise the oath of citizenship in both official languages using the videos:
- Show the video Presiding over a Citizenship Ceremony: What you Need to Know as a Presiding Official, if the volunteer presiding official has not seen it.
- Discuss the role of the clerk of the ceremony, the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official, special guests, guest speakers, RCMP officer, Canadian Forces members and veterans.
- Explain when and how often presiding officials will be asked to preside at citizenship ceremonies based on the office’s needs.
- Review the local and non-local travel guidelines for volunteer presiding officials
- Have the volunteer presiding official complete the travel forms, if applicable, and answer any questions related to travel that they may have.
- Invite the volunteer presiding official to share their ideas on enhancing the ceremonies.
- Leave time for discussions, questions and answers.
Orientation sessions for volunteers
Orientation is a vital part of working with volunteers and volunteer groups, whether they are helping with 1 or several ceremonies. The following is a suggested agenda for an orientation meeting with volunteers:
- explain the process leading to citizenship and provide a description of the various elements of a citizenship ceremony
- explain why the department holds citizenship ceremonies
- explain how volunteer contributions make a difference to citizenship ceremonies
- explain that volunteers should conduct themselves professionally at all times
- give a clear explanation of a volunteer’s obligations, such as confidentiality and respect for cultural differences and sensitivities
- explain that citizenship ceremonies cannot be used for political or other reasons
- explain that citizenship-related questions should be referred to citizenship staff
- provide practical information, such as work space and restrooms, if the volunteers are working at a citizenship office
- review the dress code for ceremonies
- explain that name tags should include the person’s affiliation, such as: George Jones, Anytown, Chamber of Commerce
- review emergency evacuation procedures
- give each volunteer or volunteer group a handout explaining the general volunteer guidelines. See Volunteer guidelines for citizenship ceremonies, and Discover Canada.
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