Most of us are born and grow up with a single citizenship, belonging to a single country, nation and homeland. Yet tens of millions of people every year decide to ask the citizenship of another country in the desire for a better life, the possibility of career advancement or to secure future generations.
Historical situations similar to those that occurred in the Balkans during the 1990’s or today’s in Syria are the main initiator of such decisions. Yet, as the popular saying states that “in every crop there is chaff”, so some leave for reasons such as love. I am one of those, one of those who decided to add to their native / original citizenship another one. In my case it is a Canadian citizenship, which was presented to me on the sixth of May at the ceremony in Surrey, BC, Canada. That day was the beginning of the rest of my new life, a new phase, chance to create a whole new personality, a whole new dimension in my life.
About the details of the ceremony and what it means for me I’ll say something a little bit later. First I want to take you back in time. In May 2007, in the first half of it, to be precise, I left Bosnia and Herzegovina as an Editor of the City Section of “Dnevni list” newspaper. Many wondered why I left, so I will use this opportunity to clear that issue for them. I left because of love, not because of money or bng endangered or threatened. When I left Bosnia, my income was at market’s average or even slightly above. I had built a career there and I was in charge of one of the sections of Dnevni list newspaper, working, in my opinion, with one of the best teams ever. We were led by Vera and Sanja, and later I was also added to the management team as well. I did not flee to Canada as a refugee, as some rude commentators recently imputed in one of the internet forum comments. I went for Canada at my own will and desire. To be honest, I not even drawn to Canada for the money, power or let’s say “a prospect for a better life”, because long ago I came to an understanding that wherever you go you have to work and be persistent to accomplish anything.
Have I achieved something, I will let others to judge. What I can say is that even thought I left physically Bosnia and Herzegovina, I never really left its public scene. I just as much as care about the events on the Canadian scene I do about the events on Bosnian scene. In the past six years, I expressed my views and opinions through my written articles published on this blog here, in a magazine www.Republikainfo.com, on other internet portals and websites and recently on Face TV through my monthly columns. Often it is hard, exhausting and complicated to track all in two languages, write bilingually, and ultimately at the same time to communicate on them both, but that was determined by the fate and I am so far handling it, allow me to say very well. In addition to what is related to Bosnia and Herzegovina, one of my top projects and another very successful media project for me is in Canada is called Surrey604.com. Through this site where I am a Community Relations Strategist, I have the opportunity to collaborate with some of the most distinguished politicians and public figures in Lower Mainland, Canada.
One of them is the Mayor of The City of Surrey, esteemed Dianne Watts, who was proclaimed by the World Association of Mayors to be among the top 5 mayors in the world (2010). Today she is considered one of the 10 most influential mayors in Canada, and is even ranking better than the mayors of Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal or capital Ottawa. Mayor Watts is not alone, and some of her colleagues at the City Hall and the City Council, such as the Councilor Rasode and Councillor Hepner, are also among those with whom I cooperate often. It was a great honor to have them as my as friends at the Canadian citizenship ceremony.
And here are a few words about the ceremony where I became the citizen of Canada. As you will see in the attached video, I was awarded my news citizenship of one of the world’s largest democracies, together with other 85 new citizens. On that sunny morning in downtown Surrey, we represented over 20 different nations, all sitting next to each other. There was a Bosnian and Filipino sitting together, a little further away an Indian and Chinese etc. In the two-hour ceremony presided by Judge G. W. Pash, all of us who have been waiting for this moment for years, swore the allegiance to the nominal ruler of Canada Queen Elizabeth II, and to the laws of the country in which we live over the next decades. Judge Pash reminded the new citizens of their most important duties, and one of them is to respect their most important democratic right to vote. This will contribute to the creation of our future, but as Judge Pash said, voting does not end our role in society. Active citizen is one that really works in the society and for the community and who contributes in every possible way to improving it and making it better.
“You are the face of the future, you can build a society that will be the leader of the world. We ask you not to give up your culture and language, or religion. Your success in Canada is directly related to your ability to communicate with other citizens of Canada. At the same time be proud of your roots, bring with you all the positives and work with your neighbors continuously on building this nation. This nation is not perfect. It has a lot of good, but there are also bad things to be repaired”, said Judge Pash.
Perhaps this lesson should apply to all other societies in the world, and especially to the Balkans’ lethargic societies. At least for me, the most memorable was moment where we uttered the oath, in both official languages (English and French), and when we received a document guaranteeing the rights of a citizen, and when we sang the national anthem.
As a citizen of Canada and Bosnia and Herzegovina today, I must work for the benefit of both countries and strive to help both socio-political communities to be better and safer place to live. When it comes to Bosnia and Herzegovina I will never cease to correct historical errors that I read in the media, logical mistakes, or unprofessional errors committed because of negligence and simplistic desire to get quick fame, thinking that the Bosnia and Herzegovina public is stupid and uninformed. Here, I primarily think of our “leaders” who for over two decades take people back yet who build their empires and business empires, all the while ordinary citizens suffer every day. I on the other hand, have the respect for both my fellow compatriots in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and as of few days ago, my fellow compatriots in Canada. Why shouldn’t I? They also feel that they respect me. My words are published everywhere and my voice is heard far away, in both Bosnia and in Canada, and every day more and more. I am at a disposal to both, Canada and to Bosnia as I have always been. I just hope that in the future I will have a chance to do much more for both my countries, just as I have in the past.