How to Host a Citizenship Ceremony

This informative video advises how to plan and host a citizenship ceremony, step-by-step.

How to Host a Citizenship Ceremony

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Transcript: “How to Host a Citizenship Ceremony”

Video length: 11:11 minutes

Man appears on screen.

Text on screen: New Canadian – Raul Alos Torres

Raul Alos Torres: I decided that this is the place that I wanted to stay for sure with my family.

A second man appears on screen.

Text on screen: New Canadian – Catalin Sandolache

Catalin Sandolache: Now I’m officially a Canadian citizen … oh my God!

A woman appears on screen.

Text on screen: New Canadian – Thelma Louise Jackson

Thelma Louise Jackson: I’m filled with joy. In my soul I am very happy. Being a Canadian in my life I promise that I will love Canada no matter what. I even forget my country … I grip hold of Canada.

A waving Canadian flag appears on screen. Background music begins.

Text on screen: How to Host a Citizenship Ceremony

Background music fades.

Images of people participating in a citizenship ceremony appear: people shaking hands, people waving flags, people obtaining their citizenship and posing for photographs.

Narrator: The citizenship ceremony is an important rite of passage for new Canadians. For many, it’s the start of a new commitment, a new loyalty to their new country, leaving old allegiances behind. For the community, it’s an opportunity to welcome new citizens and hear them express their loyalty.

Man appears on screen.

Text on screen: New Canadian – John Sylvan.

John Sylvan: The generation of pioneers that were before us laid that path. And the most important thing was during the speeches, the covenant created between me and Canada. That’s the most beautiful thing, which we stand by.

Images on screen: people participating in a citizenship ceremony, registering at a citizenship ceremony, filling out and signing forms, greeting each other at reception following a citizenship ceremony.

Narrator: Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada – or IRCC – works closely with community groups across Canada to support their involvement in hosting citizenship ceremonies. This video will show you how to plan and host a citizenship ceremony, step-by-step.

Background music gets louder. A waving Canadian flag appears on screen.

Text on screen: citizenship ceremony – the basics

Narrator: Let’s start with the basics. Here’s what you need to know about hosting a citizenship ceremony.

Images on screen: people participating in a citizenship ceremony, people reciting in the Oath of Citizenship.

Background music fades and sound of new Canadian taking the oath is heard.

Narrator: The citizenship oath is a solemn declaration in which citizenship candidates promise to be loyal to the Queen of Canada and to observe Canadian laws while fulfilling their duties and responsibilities as Canadian citizens.

As each new Canadian is welcomed into our rich and diverse family, the reward lies in moments like these.

Images on screen: new Canadians being called up to accept citizenship certificates, people shaking hands, people receiving pins and flags.

Catalin Sandolache: Family is important to me. Family is one of the most important values for Canadians. And family is something that not most of the nations value. Canada values family.

Catalin Sandolache appears on screen.

Catalin Sandolache: Everything is made for family in Canada, and I think this is a great value because Canada is one of the best countries in the world.

Screen fades to black. Text appears in screen reads: who is involved?

Narrator: Who is involved? The citizenship candidates are central to the day – and the most important people at the event.

Images on screen: Employee on the phone working in an office, 3 people in a meeting, seated at a table.

Narrator: IRCC takes care of contacting them and creating the invitation list, while your group manages the logistics.

Images on screen: new Canadians attending citizenship ceremonies.

Narrator: You can also count on others to participate, like family and friends of the candidates and other special guests.

Images on screen: Guests attending citizenship ceremony, an RCMP member, members of the Canadian military.

Narrator: As the organizer, IRCC will identify a presiding official and possibly a master of ceremonies.

Images on screen: citizenship judges presiding over ceremonies, an RCMP member standing on guard.

Narrator: The presiding official, usually a citizenship judge, administers the Oath of Canadian Citizenship, presents Canadian citizenship certificates and delivers remarks about the importance of citizenship. At times, volunteer presiding officials, which are among an elite group of eminent Canadians, also preside ceremonies.

Images on screen: Guest making a video of the citizenship ceremony, guest speakers addressing audience, RCMP and military members at a ceremony.

Narrator: The master of ceremonies welcomes guests and introduces speakers and special guests. IRCC may also invite an RCMP officer, a member of the Canadian Forces or a veteran to participate in your ceremony. Media may also be in attendance.

Background music volume rises.

Image of a Canadian flag appears on screen as a blurred background and text on screen appears: who is involved?

  • Citizenship candidates
  • Families, friends, special guests
  • Presiding officials
  • Master of ceremonies

Screen fades to black then text on screen appears, which reads: when?

Images on screen: shots of participants registering on arrival their citizenship ceremony.

Narrator: When should you hold your ceremony? Usually, ceremonies are held on weekdays, during normal business hours.

Scene on the screen blurs. Text on screen: when?

  • Weekdays
  • Normal business hours

Screen fades to black then text on screen appears: where?

Images on screen: Woman walking into an IRCC office building, a large room full of people attending a citizenship ceremony.

Narrator: Where should you host your ceremony? You can hold it at the local Citizenship and Immigration office, or choose a location in the community.

Images on screen: people walking around museum, people walking around a historical site.

Narrator: It can be places like art galleries, museums, historic sites, schools, universities, libraries and community centres.

Scene on the screen blurs. Text on screen: where?

  • Local IRCC office
  • Location in the community

Background music volume rises.

Image of a Canadian flag appears on screen as a blurred background and text on screen appears, which reads: planning the event

Narrator: Let’s go over the finer points of planning the citizenship ceremony. Here’s what you and your group need to know.

Most of the screen fades to black. Text on screen reads: step 1: 2 to 3 months before

Narrator: Step 1. Have you contacted IRCC yet to advise them that you would like to host a ceremony?

Text on screen: 2 to 3 months before

  • Contact IRCC

Images on screen: a woman working on a computer at a desk, a screen capture of email from IRCC, another woman on the phone in an office.

Narrator: If not, be sure to reach out to us at least 2 to 3 months before the big day. The sooner you can ask us, the better. IRCC will confirm whether your request can be supported after considering logistics and available resources. The date will be confirmed after that.

Text on screen: the previous bullet reappears, with 2 additional bullets added:

  • Find the location
  • Confirm the date

Narrator: Let IRCC know where you would like to host the ceremony. We will confirm the date with you.

Images on screen: 2 women and a man at a meeting in a boardroom, tight shots of one of the women writing on a notepad.

Narrator: Schedule a planning meeting with IRCC staff to discuss the number of people expected, special guests to be invited and other important details.

Narrator: Step 2. Four to 6 weeks before the ceremony, determine your requirements and establish a budget to cover the costs.

Text on screen: Step 2: 4 to 6 weeks before

  • Establish a budget
  • Plan the site layout

Images on screen: woman in office speaking on a desk phone, looking at a computer monitor. Close up of the same woman with the phone receiver to her ear.

Narrator: Plan the site layout, including where you’ll place the stage, chairs and so on. Prepare a space for your reception area.

Narrator: IRCC will ensure there are ceremonial flags and a dignified portrait of the Queen, a visible reminder that the Oath of Citizenship is a mutual pledge between the citizen and the Queen.

Text on screen: the previous set of bullets reappears, with a third bullet added:

  • IRCC will ensure there is a dignified portrait of the Queen

Image on screen: a citizenship judge speaking at a citizenship ceremony.

Narrator: IRCC officials will create a guest list and extend invitations to all guests.

Images on screen: a man and woman attending a meeting in an office, which transitions to a close-up of a table with a variety of snacks and drinks.

Narrator: Consider food and refreshments for the reception. Consider having a local business sponsor the reception. IRCC does not provide funding for these extras.

Narrator: You can recruit volunteers to plan and staff the citizenship ceremony.

Text on screen: the previous set of bullets reappears, with a fourth bullet added:

  • Recruit volunteers

Image on screen: close-up shot of a woman talking with other people. Cut to a wide shot a group meeting taking place in an open office area.

Narrator: They can help organize the event, including catering, working at the reception, greeting the guests and cleaning up. Whenever possible, be sure to include at least one bilingual volunteer on your team.

Text on screen: the previous set of bullets reappears, with a fifth bullet added:

  • Include a bilingual resource

Woman appears on screen.

Text on screen: Teresita Buena, Citizenship Ceremony Host

Teresita Buena: We try to get more volunteers. We have to have around 6 volunteers to help us in the preparations. We have to have our supplies ready, like coffee, tea and cookies for everybody.

Narrator: Step 3. The countdown is on.

Text on screen reads: Step 3: 2 to 3 weeks before

Narrator: With 2 to 3 weeks remaining before the ceremony, here’s what you need to do.

Text on screen: 2 to 3 weeks before

  • Liaise with IRCC

Narrator: Liaise with IRCC staff on the final details.

Image on screen: 2 women in an office organizing papers. Close-up shot of one of the women putting papers in a clear plastic sleeve.

Narrator: IRCC will prepare the program and have it translated

Narrator: Confirm your plans for the reception. It’s often easiest to keep it simple.

Text on screen: the previous bullet reappears, with an additional bullet added:

  • Confirm reception plans

Image on screen: 3 women in a kitchen preparing refreshments.

Narrator: Most groups serve tea, coffee and juice with cakes, cookies or light snacks. Remember to plan for dietary restrictions and label any foods with nuts.

Text on screen: the previous set of bullets reappears, with 2 additional bullets added:

  • Consider dietary restrictions
  • Label foods with nuts

Narrator: Promote the ceremony to the media if you would like coverage of the event.

Text on screen: the previous set of bullets reappears, with 2 additional bullets added:

  • Contact the media
  • Review speeches

Narrator: Keep your remarks brief. This is not your day, but theirs.

Images on screen: shots of a man and a woman discussing documents on a table in front of them, prior to a ceremony.

Narrator: The appropriate comportment for one hosting a citizenship ceremony is dignified and formal, but not overly officious or self-important.

Narrator: Step 4. We’re now just days away.

Text on screen: Step 4: 2 to 3 days before

Narrator: It’s time to… brief volunteers and assign their duties. Re-confirm all details for the reception.

Text on screen: 2 to 3 days before

  • Brief volunteers
  • Finalize reception plans

Images on screen: Stack of Canadian flags and a pile of Maple leaf pins, then a man laying programs on chairs.

Narrator: IRCC officials will bring Canadian flags, Maple Leaf pins, the program and other items for the new citizens with them to the ceremony.

Text on screen: Step 5: Day of the ceremony

Narrator: Step 5. It’s now the day of the citizenship ceremony.

Image on screen: A man closes curtains in large room; another man puts a pitcher of water on a table.

Narrator: Be sure to arrive well in advance of your guests. Check that everything at the site is in order.

Text on screen reads: day of the ceremony

  • Brief volunteers
  • Set up for the reception
  • Check sound and lighting

Narrator: Brief your volunteers and set up for the reception. Set up the location and make sure the sound and lighting systems work.

Image on screen: 2 men stand in conversation at the front of the room where the ceremony is to be held. Cut to a shot of guests arriving at a ceremony.

Narrator: As the soon-to-be citizens and other guests arrive and register, welcome them.

Text on screen: the previous set of bullets reappears, with 2 additional bullets added:

  • Greet guests

Support the media

Narrator: greet the media. Find out how you can help them set up or find interview subjects.

Image on screen: People arriving and being seated.

Narrator: Ensure everyone is seated on time and ready for the moment they have been waiting for.

Images on screen: a procession with the citizenship judge, a ceremonial drummer in 19th-century costume, an RCMP officer and a member of the Canadian Forces enters the ceremony and walks down a centre aisle.

Narrator: Step 6. After the ceremony, it’s time for celebration.

Text on screen: step 6: after the ceremony

Images on screen: a series of shots of guests at the post-ceremony reception, eating, talking and laughing.

Narrator: The reception serves as a special way to bring new Canadians together and celebrate what each individual has achieved on their journey to becoming a Canadian.

John Sylvan: I was welcomed. If I ever go out, I say “I’m going back home,” not “where I was born.” I felt, deep in my heart, this is where I belong. Canada.

Images on screen: John Sylvan and family member walking outside. Transition to Thelma Louise Jackson speaking to the camera.

Thelma Louise Jackson: Canada needs you. I said I need Canada too. I felt you know when I sit down there … it’s as if a white piece of cloth just came right around me. And I know it was the Angel of God that was there at the present time! …

Image on screen: Thelma Louise Jackson with family at citizenship ceremony.

Thelma Louise Jackson: I was not scared at all.

Image on screen: Thelma Louise Jackson receiving a flag pin.

Thelma Louise Jackson: He said “You are fully accepted in Canada. Have a good time.”

Image on screen: Thelma Louise Jackson speaking to the camera.

Thelma Louise Jackson: I dropped my knees on the ground and I said “Thank you God!”

Images on screen: Volunteers cleaning up after the reception – folding a tablecloth and wiping off a countertop. People chatting.

Narrator: Now that the day is done, it’s time to do the final clean up and reflect on what you’ve accomplished.

Narrator: If you or your group would like to touch the lives of new Canadians, visit our website for complete information on planning and hosting a citizenship ceremony.

Text on screen: for more information: cic.gc.ca/ceremony

Images on screen: People standing, singing Oh Canada and waving Canada flags at citizenship ceremony.

Narrator: You’ll find guidelines, a sample event program and important do’s and don’ts to help you plan a day that’s special from start to finish.

O Canada begins to play. Images appear on screen of people singing along and waving a Canada flag. As the song ends, the sound of people clapping can be heard.

Screen fades to black. Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada logo appears.

The Canada wordmark appears.

Text on screen: ©Her Majesty the Queen in Right of Canada, represented by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, 2019.

The video fades to black.

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