MONTREAL -- This year, as every year, Canada is the time for citizenship ceremonies. Like everything else in 2020, however, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed things and many ceremonies are moving online.

And while many are embracing the maple leaf with barbeques and fireworks, some groups are drawing attention to issues facing the country that are nothing to celebrate.


While many new Canadians are taking the oath, there is a push to protect many non-status health-care workers from deportation, and there is an opposing view of what July 1 means.

An online ceremony united people from 10 provinces and two territories and highlighted the work of immigrants on the front lines of the fight against the novel coronavirus.

“It makes me feel small actually,” said citizenship judge Naina Sfeir. “Seeing all these people working on the front line and doing that much for our communities, we ask ourselves, ‘what are we doing?’”

On May 25, the Quebec government considered letting some asylum seekers apply for immigration, but only those who work in the provinces long-term care homes where COVID-19 was particularly virulent and deadly.

Until they are granted asylum, however, those risking their lives on the front lines also risk being deported.

Before the crisis, the Francois Legault CAQ government maintained that there would be no exceptions.

On May 23, protesters outside of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s Papineau riding office demanded those workers be allowed to stay. Many carried pictures of Marceline Francois, the 40-year-old father-of-three health-care worker who died due to COVID-19.

Like thousands, he had crossed the border at Roxham Rd.

The citizenship ceremony Wednesday paid homage to these workers.


An Idle No More event Wednesday drew attention to how Canada has failed many people – especially Indigenous people - and the event aimed at finding a more productive way forward.

“The system’s not working for us or people of colour, and so there needs to be some kind of understanding of what Canada’s legal obligations are and the rest of Indigenous peoples are to protect our lands to be safe when we’re protecting our lands,” said Kanestake activist Ellen Gabriel.

Members of the Indigenous Climate Action steering committee organized an event on Facebook called “Anti-Canada Day.”

The event featured speakers that looked at the structures in the country that work against the climate, people of colour and Indigenous people.