New citizens start lives in Canada as country seeks immigrants

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New Canadians on why they became citizens
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New Canadians on why they became citizens
Chhe Hyolmo from Sermathang, Nepal, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 25, 2017. "I came to Canada to have a better future. The best thing about Canada is that it's a multicultural country," Hyolmo said. "In future I would like to study law," REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Fardin Naibkhil from Kabul, Afghanistan, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 25, 2017. Naibkhil said: "I came to Canada to have a better life because there are lots of opportunities. Canada is a freedom country and it's a multicultural country. Everyone has equal rights there is no racism. My future plan is to complete my education and get my degree to serve all people." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Damian Daley from Kingston, Jamaica, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 25, 2017. Daley said: "We came to Canada to start a new chapter in our lives and considered this chapter the adventure of a lifetime! Who wouldn't want to relocate to Canada? Wonderful country where so many wonderful possibilities exist!" REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Tom Chitty from Richmond, England, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2017. Chitty said: "I didn't really have a choice because I fell in love with a Canadian so I moved here to get married to her eventually. What am I going to do first? Believe it or not we are going to Tim Hortons." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Farah Morris of Mauritius and Guyana, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 25, 2017. Morris said: "My future plans are to attain a successful and fulfilling career in neuroscience and to live everyday with a positive attitude." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Rainer Manzel from Stuttgart, Germany, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2017. Manzel said: "My aunt told me to come. To find out what it's like here but she never told me about the cold winter." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Yosra Boudhrioua from Tunisia poses for a portrait after her Canadian citizenship ceremony in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, May 29, 2017. Boudhrioua did not speak fluent English when she came to Canada in 2012. But five years later, when she attended the Calgary ceremony, she was completing a degree to become a teacher. "It doesn't put you down," she said of Canada's immigration system, which offers free language classes. "You're always up if you have the passion." REUTERS/Todd Korol 
Thea Eustaquio from Manila, Philippines, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 25, 2017. Eustaquio said: "I want to come to Canada because of wider job opportunities, high quality education, health benefits, visa free travel for almost all countries across the globe and multiculturalism. What I like best about Canada are the raw natural landscapes, parks, diversity and of course the food; maple syrup and BeaverTails!". REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Inge Tajik from Odense, Denmark, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2017. Tajik said: "I came here because of my husband. He moved here first and I moved after him. Citizenship means I can vote. I would really like to. I've been living here for 25 years." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Nasira Ahmad from Lahore, Pakistan, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2017. Ahmad said: "It's a very, very peaceful country. We have our freedom, especially religious freedom. Back home we don't have it, so we are happy here. We are safe. We are peaceful. We have rights." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Ligia Diaconeseu from Romania poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 25, 2017. Diaconeseu said: "The plan for me immediately: I hope to speak English fluently. Now I'm studying at ESL for newcomers. (I hope to) obtain a Bachelor's degree at the University of Toronto in Medicine and Law." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Mgeni Hamed from Zanzibar, Tanzania poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 25, 2017. Hamed said: "What I like best about Canada is diversity, we are being treated equally no matter where you come from and what race you are." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Sajedeh Ghassemi from Mashhad, Iran, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2017. "I want to have a better future because as a Middle Eastern woman in my country, I cannot do a lot of stuff," Ghassemi said. REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Laarnice Batal from the island of Negros, Philippines poses for a portrait before her Canadian citizenship ceremony in Calgary, Alberta, Canada May 29, 2017. Batal said: "My husband was working here, and I chose Canada for our future, for the future of my kids. This is a good place. It's good." REUTERS/Todd Korol 
Yazan Almadani, 7, from Baghdad, Iraq, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2017. Almadani said: "I think Canada is our home. I want to be a football player." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Victoria Ishai of Netanya, Israel poses for a picture during Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2017. Ishai said: "We chose Canada because it's a safe place and we don't need to worry about our kids going to school and never coming back. Safety is the main thing for us and our kids. What am I going to do first? I'm going to eat poutine as a Canadian." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Grace Sutter Hodgins from Cleveland, Ohio poses for a portrait after her Canadian citizenship ceremony in Calgary, Alberta, Canada May 29, 2017. Hodgins said: "We bought property in British Columbia in 2011, raw land, and we've been building a house and making a homestead. I feel I'm carrying on my father's family legacy, because they immigrated to the States right after World War II and settled in northeast Ohio. So I feel like I'm sort of following those footsteps and striking out into a new country and starting a new life." REUTERS/Todd Korol 
Stanley King from Limbe, Cameroon poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2017. "It's a really big thing. We all know Canada is one of the best countries in the world. It's known for it's uniqueness and it's peace and so on and so forth," King said. "Being a Canadian citizen has put me in a very high standard." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Arshad Ahmad from Lahore, Pakistan poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 31, 2017. "For thanks I'll pay some charity," Ahmad said. "I feel real honour to be a Canadian. Before I was in the middle of nowhere." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
Svitlana Kryvotulska Samilyk from Chernivtsi, Ukraine, poses for a portrait during a Canadian citizenship ceremony in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, May 25, 2017. Samilyk said: "Canada is a very good place to live. This country gave me a lot of opportunities. I like Canada because it's a multicultural country. Secondly, the nature. Canada has great places to visit and go camping." REUTERS/Mark Blinch 
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CALGARY, Alberta, June 22 (Reuters) - At citizenship ceremonies across the country, new Canadians began a fresh chapter in their lives last month in a land they chose for what they saw as its diversity, safety and opportunity.

"There's lots of multiculturalism here," said Flor Mejid, originally from El Salvador, who attended a ceremony in Calgary, Alberta. "My high school that I went to (in Canada)... there were students from the Middle East, Asia, Central America, and they all got along really well."

Mejid was one of 90 people at the ceremony, hailing from 23 countries, who became citizens weeks before Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary on July 1.

Sajedeh Ghassemi, originally from Iran, attended a ceremony in Mississauga, just west of Toronto. "I want to have a better future because as a Middle Eastern woman in my country, I cannot do a lot of stuff," she said.

Even as the United States under President Donald Trump becomes more closed off - with a pending ban on visitors from several Muslim-majority countries and a crackdown on immigration violations - Canada's arms remain open.

After Trump issued a travel ban order in January, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that his country welcomes all fleeing war and persecution.

Since January, nearly 3,500 asylum seekers have entered Canada illegally from the United States. In June, Canada launched a fast-track visa for highly skilled workers, seeking to take advantage of the tougher U.S. immigration environment.

"Canada will welcome a target of 300,000 new permanent residents in 2017," a spokesman for the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada federal department said in a statement.

"Planned admissions for resettled refugees in 2017 is 25,000 ... Immigration continues to play a key role in contributing to Canada's well-being, to our economic prosperity."

During Calgary's ceremony, citizenship Judge Joe Woodward told the new Canadians of their responsibilities to contribute to society and "to keep Canada alive."

"When you become a part of Canada, Canada becomes a part of you," he said.

Yosra Boudhrioua, originally from Tunisia, did not speak fluent English when she came to Canada in 2012. But five years later, when she attended the Calgary ceremony, she was completing a degree to become a teacher.

"It doesn't put you down," she said of Canada's immigration system, which offers free language classes. "You're always up if you have the passion."

(Reporting by Ethan Lou in Calgary, Alberta; Additional reporting by Mark Blinch in Mississauga, Ontario; Editing by Dan Grebler)

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