By Capt Fabiano Micoli, 16 Wing Borden WPlansO
(Originally published in Excelsior, Spring 2011 edition)
One of the perquisites of serving in the CF is the occasional, unexpected and rare opportunity that comes along that none of our friends in the civilian world will ever have. In Oct 2009, I received an e-mail via my supervisor from the Air Force Speakers Bureau about the chance to represent the CF at a citizenship ceremony in the Department of Citizenship and Immigration’s Mississauga office. Their extensive search efforts up until that point had not produced a volunteer, but they were determined to find someone. I volunteered, and with that decision began a series of invitations over the next year and a half that brought me some wonderful experiences that I will not forget. In all, I have attended five citizenship ceremonies in four locations: Mississauga, Toronto, St Catharines, and Niagara Falls.
At the first two ceremonies, I was not required to give a speech, but that changed with the third invitation that I received in Sept 2010. Now the pressure was on, but the support I got from the Air Force Speakers Bureau was outstanding. My contact in the Bureau e-mailed me copies of two speeches given by other Air Force officers and was invited to use them as templates. I began developing my own speech, and after some back-and-forth submission and review, I finally had something that was acceptable to both me and to the Air Force Speaker’s Bureau. Here are the first few paragraphs:
"Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. I remember well the day when my mother and her good friend took their oath of citizenship almost 23 years ago in a ceremony held in Toronto. It was a happy and special moment in their lives, and we went out afterwards for a small celebration. I’m sure this is a special moment in your lives as well, and I am grateful to be a part of this occasion as a representative of the Canadian Forces.
In your preparation for this special day, you studied the amazing geography of Canada, its short but rich history, and some of you have learned about the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. As you know, Section 2 of the Charter lists our fundamental freedoms, and I would like to name them because they are so important:
Freedom of conscience and religion
Freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press
Freedom of peaceful assembly
Freedom of association.
Are these not beautiful? Some of you may have come from nations where these freedoms are not promoted by the government, or worse, are actively suppressed by the government. And so you know better than me how precious and fragile these freedoms are. I’m sure there is much I could learn from you about this."
I then cite some specific examples of CF operations, domestic and international to underscore how busy we are as an organization. Near the end, I mention that in my role as a SAR pilot I flew all over Canada, and I encourage the new citizens to explore our great country. The duration of the speech was just over four minutes.
Overall, participating in these citizenship ceremonies was a very positive experience for me personally. I had some interesting conversations with citizenship judges and new Canadians, and I received some nice feedback on my work. It was also a great “connect with Canadians” opportunity. If you’re ever given the chance to speak at one, I highly recommend it.