Venue and set-up of citizenship ceremonies

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

When the local citizenship office does not have a ceremony room, ceremonies can be held at an appropriate location in the community. It is important to note, however, that ceremonies held at locations in the community are not necessarily enhanced. Ceremony type (known as Facility Subtype in GCMS) is determined by the nature of the ceremony, and not by the physical location of the ceremony venue.

Standard citizenship ceremonies

Standard citizenship ceremonies are held in the local office citizenship ceremony room on a regular schedule. The schedule can be as infrequent as once a year in smaller centres, to two or three ceremonies every day in larger centres.

Enhanced citizenship ceremonies

Enhanced citizenship ceremonies are usually held off-site, but could also take place at the CIC office. Scheduling off-site or enhanced ceremonies requires more planning, as the venues may be in out-of-the-way locations or held on weekends or statutory holidays, such as Canada Day.

The location should be available long enough to set up the room for the ceremony, hold the ceremony and return the room to its original state following the ceremony and reception, if applicable, normally three to four hours.

Citizenship offices involved in a large or enhanced ceremony might consider preparing a sequence of events and providing CIC and regional communications staff, the citizenship judge, volunteers, hosts and sponsors with a copy of the written briefing material.

When planning ceremonies outside of a local citizenship office, unpredictable situations that are beyond your control can arise. Keep the following elements in mind to minimize any difficulties that may be encountered:

  • Open-air sites or sites that are accessible to all members of the general public may interrupt the proceedings in the event of disorderly or disruptive behaviour.
  • Outdoor sites can be threatened by heat, rain or wind.
  • The area should be free of any offensive posters, signs or markings.

Choosing a venue

A typical community-held ceremony venue may include a

  • school,
  • library, museum, park, city hall,
  • federal or provincial legislature,
  • community centre,
  • hotel facility,
  • armory,
  • sporting/recreation centre
  • legion hall or recreation area and hall attached to a church, synagogue, mosque or temple (but not in the church, synagogue, mosque or temple itself).

Churches, other places of worship and political offices are not appropriate venues for citizenship ceremonies. CIC cannot appear to promote a specific religion or political group. Religious symbols cannot be displayed or present and the ceremony area must be neutral.

Accessibility/special needs

Ceremony organizers should always keep accessibility in mind for candidates for citizenship and their guests, the citizenship judge or the volunteer presiding official, and the members of the platform party.

Participants should be able to reach the stage area, the table for signing the Oath of Citizenship Form and their seats with as little difficulty as possible. Washrooms should also be accessible.

Setting up the venue

Whether a citizenship ceremony is onsite or off-site, following a standard layout and set-up is encouraged.

Place a table, preferably to the left of the stage area (as seen by the audience) or at the back of the room, for candidates to sign the Oath of Citizenship form.

The stage area

At the front of the room is a stage area for the platform party – the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official, the clerk of the ceremony and the RCMP officer. The area for the platform party can be a stage, a slightly raised platform, or simply an area at the front of the ceremony room.

If a theatre-type stage or a raised platform is used, there should be stairs on both sides so candidates can get on and off safely, easily and quickly. There must be enough room for candidates to appear before the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official and receive their certificates.

The stage should be set up as follows:

  • chairs for the judge or volunteer presiding official and the clerk of the ceremony;
  • chairs for special guests, either to the right of the stage area or at the rear of the stage area (as seen by the audience). There should be room for the guest speakers to have easy access to the lectern. If there are many special guests, they can be seated in the first row of the audience);
  • a lectern and/or a table with a microphone for the judge or volunteer presiding official and special guests;
  • a table on which the clerk of the ceremony can place the candidates’ certificates;
  • the Canadian flag prominently displayed on the stage area
  • the wall behind the stage area may be decorated with Canada's Coat of Arms, the flags and emblems of the provinces and territories, a photograph of the Queen and the current Governor General.

Seating for candidates

The seats for candidates should be adequately spaced. There should be enough space between rows so that candidates can leave and return to their seats without disturbing those in the rows ahead and behind.

In order to facilitate verification by CIC officials that candidates take the Oath, all candidates for citizenship must be seated together, in the front rows, facing the stage area, as close to the presiding official as possible. Family and friends sit behind the candidates or on either side of all the rows of seats reserved for the candidates.

For a large ceremony, staff should consider splitting the candidates’ seating into sections, with an aisle to the stage between each section. The guests of candidates may sit behind them.

To ease the flow of traffic and to ensure every candidate for citizenship has a seat, staff should place a number on each seat and assign each candidate a seat number upon arrival for the ceremony. The seat numbers should correspond to the order in which candidates receive their certificates.

Number One is the first candidate to receive a certificate, and Seat One should be at the right of the first row facing the stage area. Candidate One should go to the stage from the right, as should the rest of the candidates in the row. The candidates in each row should return to their seats from the left.

Lighting

The lighting on the stage should be checked before the ceremony, ensuring that the stage lights do not hinder anyone’s vision.

Sound system

The sound system should include a microphone for the citizenship judge or volunteer presiding official, a microphone at the lectern for the clerk of the ceremony and special guests, and a CD player or other sound system for playing and singing “O Canada.”

The sound system should always be checked before a ceremony, whether the ceremony is being held on site or off site, to ensure that it is working and can be heard throughout the room. Even if the sound system has worked flawlessly at every ceremony for several years, it should still be checked before each ceremony.

If the sound system fails at a large ceremony, staff should not try to continue without microphones and expect participants to project their voices. In a large room, it may be difficult for people to hear what is being said. Staff should wait until the sound system is working again. A DVD player should also be set up for the playing of a video before the ceremony when candidates check in.

Someone who knows how the audiovisual system works should be available during the ceremony. A system failure is embarrassing and takes away from the dignity of the ceremony.

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