A taste of FAITH, a touch of LAUGHTER.
My Citizenship Story
Nov 23, 2022
This is my story of citizenship. I was born in the UK to English parents, John and Freda McQueen, in Scotland in January 1949.
My Dad was from Liverpool. My Mum was from Skipton, in Yorkshire. My Dad was in the army til discharge in December of 1949. It was a tough time for my Mum and Dad.
In my second teaching position, my third year of employment as a teacher, I met a Canadian girl who had come to Scotland to find work as a teacher. We became friends and she talked about me going back to Canada with her when she went home. She wanted us both to find a job on a reserve somewhere. It began jokingly. However, the seed was planted. The idea grew. I began to put some money away, and eventually purchased a ticket.
I then went to the immigration offices to see about living and working in Canada and was told that due to job shortages for teachers, I could not seek employment there with my experience as I would be taking a job from a Canadian. I could only go for a holiday, then come back home. I decided to go anyway.
I was 23. I had my passport from earlier trips to Spain with college friends. I had a little money. My Mum cried as I left…..she was losing her daughter. She was worried. I didn’t understand. I was on an adventure!
So that is how I came to this country. Ann McQueen, 23 years of age. A UK citizen under the rule of Queen Elizabeth the Second, in the summer of 1972. All the way from Scotland.
It seemed everything in Canada was “supersized”. Huge 8 lane highway. Big cars. Big meals. Huge buildings. Tons of concrete. Crowds of people teeming everywhere. Police with GUNS! Wow!!!!
My friend and I worked in a 90° office without an air conditioner for a week in Toronto to get just enough money to travel to Vancouver. Those were happy hippy times. Vancouver had this atmosphere that was welcoming friendly and fun in comparison to Toronto.
I got a temporary job in an A&W, then a part time position in a Vancouver preschool to keep myself in funds. The preschool supervisor enjoyed what I was doing, wanted to keep me, and went to bat for me with immigration. As a result, I was granted landed immigrant papers. Yay!
I made new friends. One was a French Canadian girl with whom I would plan to hitchhike across Canada to see how big it was. It was that kind of a time. Lots of young people were doing just that. I eventually did it!
Sadly, I lost touch with my original teacher friend, and my travelling friend, but happily, I did find my first teaching job in Kyuquot, a tiny, predominantly First Nations community on the west coast of Vancouver Island. This was basically what my friend and I had planned, but I was doing it with a new teacher friend I met at the job interview. Our classes in the 2 roomed school were mostly children from the reserve across the bay. They arrived at school in a fishboat every day! It was a bit of a culture shock, in so many unexpected ways, but it was happening! I learned so much…..
I later married a First Nations man (my late husband Jim Justin) in 1981 (two ceremonies, the first a regular church one by a visiting missionary and a then a First Nations traditional wedding ceremony). Now I was Ann Justin, and the government immediately made me a status Indian, without consulting me. This addition of me to the Indian roll, the Band list, by the government, just happened overnight, seemingly. However, I was apparently NOT a Canadian citizen, as I discovered in various situations that arose in the ensuing years. That has raised much puzzlement, many questions and some investigations as it was contemplated on several occasions by a variety of sources looking into my dilemma for one reason or another.
For all intents and purposes, though I was undoubtedly Caucasian, I was an Indian under DIA (Department of Indian affairs). I lived on reserve, taught on reserve, became a council member on reserve in the local First Nations government for two separate two year terms, one with my husband and one after he passed away in 2006. I had a foot in both camps. Sometimes there were difficulties in an inter-racial marriage, and my children experienced this, as did my husband and I.
Racism seemed to be alive and well on occasion in both settings, though First Nations in general are well known for their welcome and acceptance. I very much appreciated all of their kindness and generosity! I was not the first white woman to be nominated for the position of Chief Councillor, which I declined immediately since I felt it required more experience as a regular council member than my total of 2 years at the time. I appreciated the vote of confidence but I felt I needed more time to learn. I opted to spend a second term serving on council instead.
As a family (we had 2 young boys) we went off to Bible School (Key Way Tin Bible Institute) in Lac La Biche for 3 years (1993-96) and came home to work as missionaries to the community of Kyuquot as well as other jobs we did from time to time to help supplement income for our family. My husband pastored the church until his death, whereupon I carried on in his place for the following 5 years, since I had been trained in that aspect alongside my husband.
I left Kyuquot in 2011 after a long depression due to loss and grief, and cancer was discovered in my body. That was another 5 year journey into a strange “land” but with care and significant life changes, I survived and was cancer free for 11 years. (It recently returned, but that is a story for another day).
In subsequent years, I thought about Canadian citizenship every now and then, as a way to clarify things about my identity in this country, but never actually carried through. I went to fill in the forms and discovered two things of interest. I needed first to become a permanent resident and second, that a status Indian could not apply for permanent residence!
I let it be for a few more years.
I finally decided to explore the process further in 2017, with the local immigration office, who were very interested in my rather complicated case and looked into it carefully for me. The verdict? Yes, despite my Indian status, I would still have to obtain my permanent resident card first in order to apply for citizenship! They would assist me through the procedures however. PHEW! That was a relief!
I completed that process and got my permanent resident card, but there were still things I could not do as a permant resident, even though I was eligible to do them as a status Indian (eg. I would need to be a citizen to be a school trustee or vote in certain elections, or to work in elections). From there, it took me another 4 years to put in the citizenship application. That application has taken a whole year to finally come through, but my acceptance papers arrived! YAY!
On Thursday, Nov. 24, 9 am at the Immigrant Welcome Centre on Shopper’s Row, my Canadian Citizenship ceremony will take place.
I’m now 73.
It only took me 50 years!
November 24, 2022 update.
And here it is!
I’m finally Canadian Citizen!
It all happened on zoom in separate rooms in many different places with 98 other participants. My family members were unable to be with me but one friend came to attend the ceremony, which was very much appreciated! Thank you, Eva!
So, now I am a three times citizen! Primarily of the UK, secondly of the Kyuquot/Checlesaht First Nation, and now of Canada, under the rule of the His Majesty King Charles the Third, King of both the UK and Canada, who replaced Queen Elizabeth the Second upon her recent death.
I’m not done yet, though, since my ultimate hope lies in a future citizenship in Heaven with God, through what Jesus Christ did for us when he hung on that cross so long ago now. He made the way for our citizenship, as children of God, in the Kingdom of Heaven, where He reigns Supreme over all the earth, all of His creation, all earthly Kings and affairs of the earth.
My trust lies in His plans for my life….
That is my citizenship story!
I hope you enjoyed it…..
What an amazing life you have! I am 25% Scottish among other %s. But I have a Scottish friend now living in Lillies Leaf, Scotland. I have always been interested in Native American cultures. I don’t know as much about Canadian Indians but respect their living ways and spiritual lives. Such amazing and strong people. How wonderful to be such a big part of their culture and lives. Tell us more about their cultures when you can. Thanks for sharing your story with us.
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Yes, I hope to do this at some point!
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