Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The human face of bureaucracy

My family and I are about to become Canadian citizens, the final stage of which involves a ceremony where we take the oath of citizenship later this week. This is exciting for us, because the whole process has taken nearly two years, lots of paperwork, and a test last month.

Today I got a phone call at work. 

Immigration Canada.

My immediate reaction was a sinking feeling...something wrong with our paperwork...ceremony postponed...maybe the reply we'd sent to the invitation had got lost in the mail and missed the deadline...

But no, nothing like that. The official was simply asking if we were planning to stay for the reception after the ceremony, and if our children would like to take part in a cake-cutting ceremony.

What a lovely touch.

Although much bureaucracy here seems to work at a slow pace, it does get the job done, and every once in a while we get surprised by a very human touch to remind us that we are dealing with people who also recognize us as people. This isn't something I usually associate with government officials, but I'm happy to be living somewhere where I can be surprised like this.


  1. Congrats on getting citizenship. It sounds like a lovely process, much better than the U.S one.

  2. Congratulations on achieving your goal and for choosing such a heart-warming country.

  3. Congratulations! We here in the motherland will miss you. I'd be annoyed but your weather there is no better than ours, so we're cool.

    Moody Writing
    The Funnily Enough

  4. Will you be able to take pictures? If so, I hope you share them here. A couple of years ago we had a young fellow at work who became a citizen along with his family. We had a whole day of celebration at work for him as well with flags all over our unit and food (naturally). He was so excited to become a Canadian which was somewhat humbling for those of us who take it for granted. If you see a bunch of older lades at your ceremony who are there in a volunteer capacity they will likely be members of the Imperial Order of the Daughters of the Empire (IODE). My gran used to belong to that group.

  5. How very nice! I love that there's a cake afterward.

  6. Great news, Ian! Wow, FINALLY! And I agree, it's always a surprise to receive a human touch after dealing with so much bureaucratic red tape. That was very nice of them. Congratulations!

  7. Thanks for sharing this story! It's good to be reminded that there really are people working in those faceless office-blocks.
    And congrats again!

  8. Congratulations! That's such an exciting thing for you and your family!

  9. Soon you shall be a fellow hoser!!! Wooo-whooo!

  10. Congratulations Canadian Citizen! (I like the alliteration!)

  11. Thanks for your kind wishes, everyone. Getting really excited about tomorrow!

    Glad we're still on speaking terms, mood :)

    And I certainly plan on taking pictures, Delores. I'm still amazed at how excited people get when I mention citizenship to them.

  12. Hi Ian .. hope it has gone/will go very happily along - sounds as though it could be fun and you'll meet some new people, see the 'force' of government working .. and then that cake cutting ceremony will be a great talking point for the children in the years ahead ..

    Have a great week - Happy Canadians .. cheers Hilary

  13. Citizenship cake- a literally sweet ritual! Congratulations :-)
    Maybe sometimes slow bureaucracy means the system is set up to do things correctly!

  14. Hey Ian,
    How's it goin' eh? Wow and have some Canadian cake consumed completely. Oh yes, well done eh and enjoy your new ongoing life. Kind wishes and an old toque, your way, Gary :)

  15. Hilary, Lily, Gary - The ceremony went well. Cake duly cut and enjoyed. I have photos and a full report to post in due course.

  16. Congratulations! It is a brave thing, to move to a new country...especially with the kids and menagerie of animals in tow! (BTW, I am a huge cat lover too and have written numerous posts about the volunteer work I do here in Greece for them).

    Good luck - enjoy the fact that Immigration can be nice sometimes! And thanks for stopping by my blog: yes, it's very refreshing to find a society (Greeks, Canadians, etc) who don't revolve their lives around alcohol.


  17. Congratulations. I know it is such a process to become a citizen of another country. What an astounding touch of humanity for a government event. That is really awesome. I am sure it will be a wonderful event.
    Hope all is well and the weather is warming up for bike rides, lazy days in the park and picnics. :)

  18. Congratulations. Canada is a beautiful country and British Columbia is particularly nice.

    An A to Z Co-Host
    Tossing It Out

  19. Wow. Hope it was an awesome experience. I had no idea you were in Canada! That's where my grandpa came from eh? Of course, you can have the raw beauty and cold. We occupied the corner of Lake Ontario for a good year and a half, and it took me two years in Florida to thaw. *brrr*


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