The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, issued the following statement:
“Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Citizenship Act, a major moment in Canada’s history and a milestone on our journey to full independence and nationhood. Before the Act, the people of this country were British subjects – we have forever since been Canadian citizens.
“The position of Canadian citizen is filled with significance and meaning. It comes with newly gained rights and freshly charged responsibilities. It confers obligation to country and community. It ties an individual to this vast land and the diverse community of people who call it home.
“Since the passage of the Act, generations of Canadians have worked to ensure that the promise of citizenship includes everyone, and reflects the values we hold. In 1977, it was replaced with the Citizenship Act, which has since been amended several times. Recently, changes include broadening the interpretation of “citizenship by descent” and establishing a new Oath of Citizenship that recognizes inherent and treaty rights of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples.
“Three days after the Canadian Citizenship Act came into force, Prime Minister William Lyon Mackenzie King became the very first Canadian citizen, along with 25 other new Canadians. He began our country’s first-ever citizenship ceremony with the words, “I speak to you as a citizen of Canada.” Since that moment, millions of new Canadians have joined him at all types of citizenship ceremonies. Most recently, the pandemic has forced us to hold some 100,000 ceremonies virtually.
“Seventy five years later, the importance of Canadian citizenship endures. It remains a commitment to Canada, and to our fellow Canadians. Today, we honour the ideals of our common citizenship by promoting democracy, diversity and community. As we mark the 75th anniversary of the Canadian Citizenship Act, I encourage all Canadians to reflect on what it means to them to be a citizen of Canada.”