I was going to write a post complaining about all the fuss being made over the simple renaming of a street.
But I stopped and thought a bit.
How would I feel if the London Mayor suggested renaming Piccadilly Circus or Pall Mall? How would a New Yorker react to the suggestion of changing Madison Avenue? How many film stars would be adding their names to petitions if Hollywood Boulevard was about to be renamed?
The only reason the Park change is a non-issue for me is that I’m still a relative foreigner in this city. I don’t know the significance of Park Avenue so the name has no emotional attachment for me.
So I decided not to write the post after all. Wait. Damn.
I received a letter from Citizenship and Immigration Canada telling me to turn up for my citizenship test on 7th December. That’s next Wednesday. I guess I should start studying.
When my application was initially acknowledged, many many months ago, they sent me a booklet called “A Look at Canada” containing lots of useful facts about Canada and its people. I’ve read it quite a few times but I’m not sure I’ve absorbed all the data.
So I went looking online for sample tests, and I found the Richmond Public Library practice test page. So far I’m doing ok on those questions, but some of them relate specifically to BC rather than Quebec.
One of the things I’ve been told I need to know is who the Queen’s representative in my province is. Jen didn’t even know that each province had its own royal representative, let alone who ours is. I found it easily online, but without looking it up, do you know who the Queen’s representative for Quebec is, and what her official title is?
After receiving my confirmation letter at the start of the summer, I’ve been waiting to hear when I would be doing my Canadian citizenship test. Today I received a letter, but it wasn’t what I was expecting.
When I sent of my application, I was very careful to make sure everything was in the envelope and that I had followed all the instructions in the application guide to the letter. Included were two passport sized photos of me, signed on the back by me.
The letter today tells me that the signature on the photos doesn’t match the signature on my application. Excuse me? I mean maybe I can’t exactly duplicate my signature every single time, but usually it looks more or less the same. Is this just some fussy bureaucrat being picky or did I really mess it up that much?
They are telling me to send new photos, but the question is how do I sign them? What if it was the signature on the application that I messed up? Then I’ll get the same letter back again in another 3 months. If I send a letter with them, also signed, what if the signature on that is different to the one on the photos, and different to the one on my original application?
Why couldn’t they just ask me to show up at some office somewhere and demonstrate my signature in person? They could even compare my real face to the photographs, and look at all my identifying cards. I mean even if all the signatures matched, that’s still not proof that it’s my signature, is it?
Back in February I sent off my application for Canadian Citizenship. I’ve been bitching and complaining (mostly inwardly but occasionally to Jen) about the lack of response from them. Today I was going to call them up to ask what was going on, but I decided to do a bit of research first.
According to the immigration website, the first stage, which involves someone looking over my application and making sure everything is there before sending me a confirmation letter, takes approximately three months. This means I should wait at least until the end of May before calling.
Three months? That seems like a long time just to take a brief look at my application and fire off a form letter. There can’t be that many people applying for citizenship can there? I went looking. Apparently there are. Every year about 160,000 people apply for Canadian Citizenship. That means those poor immigration people have to look at around 700 applications every working day. That’s 100 applications every working hour. And that’s just for the first step of the process.
About 5% of those applications get rejected, which still leaves 150,000 applications for the more detailed second step, and probably more than 100,000 for the even more detailed third step.
It looks like the CIC employ about 4000 people, and I would guess that less than a tenth of them spend time processing citizenship applications. Putting all these numbers together, it’s not really surprising that the processing takes so long.
So I’m going to stop complaining, sit back, relax, and wait patiently for my application to be processed. My Father-in-law has been here for over 25 years and he’s still not a citizen so it’s not like I’m in a hurry. I don’t envy the job those immigration people have to do, so they can take their time, and I’ll be very nice to them if they call.
Shawn prompted this post. I listed what I missed about England, now it’s time to list what I don’t miss:
- Grey skies 300+ days per year.
- The almost complete lack of seasons.
- 56 million people crammed into a land mass several times smaller than Quebec.
- Traffic that happens when 56 million people all decide to go on a day trip.
- Astronomical cost of living.
- Racism and xenophobia (but we get that from our neighbours to the South instead).
- Welsh people (kidding! just kidding!).
- The whole football obsession thing.
- And cricket.
- Boy bands.
- Girl bands.
- Cliff Richard.
- Tony Blair.
People often ask me if I miss England. To be honest, I don’t very much. Obviously I miss my family, but the country itself? I can take it or leave it. There are a few things I sometimes pine for though:
When I was going through the Canadian Immigration process five or six years ago (I’ve been here five years this month!), I kept an online diary which I later turned into a more useful resource for people considering emigrating to Canada. That page has been fairly dormant ever since, but it is still one of the most visited pages on my website.
I receive emails fairly regularly from people going through the immigration process, and I received a long one this weekend from a fellow Essex boy asking to know more about my experiences. That made me think maybe I should update the Canada page, but for now I’m going to blog about it.
My experiences as an immigrant in Canada have been nearly all good. The immigration process went smoothly, I settled in quickly with Jen, found work, got married, bought property, all things that have made me very happy. Apart from the occasional language issue (which is more my fault for being incredibly useless at learning new languages), I haven’t encountered any anti-immigrant sentiment. Maybe that’s because I’m a WASP male, who knows.
I only have one real regret about the time since I’ve been here. When I arrived in January 2000 I basically stayed in the apartment for the first few months. I guess I was a little nervous about venturing out into that new and strange world. I really wish I’d gone out there, explored the city, used that time before finding a job to immerse myself in my new surroundings.
After that initial reluctance though, I have been out there, I know the city fairly well now. I’ve joined clubs, taken courses, found pub quizzes to take part in, made new friends, discovered the local blog community and generally had a very good time.
I’ve been in Canada as a permanent resident for nearly five years now, which means I’ve been eligible for Canadian citizenship for quite some time. I have the forms necessary to apply, but I’ve been procrastinating over it for way too long.
One of the problems is the section of the form that asks for every time I’ve left Canada since I came here, with exact dates. I can’t remember what I did last Wednesday, let alone the exact dates of all the times we popped down to the US for the weekend, or I visited the folks back in England.
That thing that’s happening south of the border today, and all the blog posts I keep seeing which say “You must vote!” and “Voting is important!” made me realise that there will be another election in this country sometime soon and it would be nice if I could vote in it (even if my vote would be meaningless living in a Liberal stronghold).
What else does Citizenship mean to me? Well there’s the spare passport, and the fact that I could go to the US without having to stop and deal with visa waivers and US customs officials asking if I enjoy fox hunting (yes, that did happen). It also means one less card in my wallet, as I can dispose of the Permanent Resident ID card. It means I would get to vote if they ever have another separation referendum here. And of course it means I can wear my toque with pride and proclaim “I Am Canadian (and British)!”
So maybe I’ll sit down real soon now and figure out those dates.