Canada's newest citizens Mississauga, Canada Photography by Mark Blinch and Todd Korol. Reporting by Ethan Lou. Updated 23 June 23 images Advertisement At citizenship ceremonies across the country, new Canadians began a fresh chapter in their lives last month in a land they chose for what they saw as its diversity, safety and opportunity. 29 May 2017. Calgary, Canada. Reuters/Todd Korol "There’s lots of multiculturalism here," said Flor Mejid, originally from El Salvador, who attended a ceremony in Calgary, Alberta. "My high school that I went to (in Canada)... there were students from the Middle East, Asia, Central America, and they all got along really well." Mejid was one of 90 people at the ceremony, hailing from 23 countries, who became citizens weeks before Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary on July 1. 31 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Sajedeh Ghassemi, originally from Iran, attended a ceremony in Mississauga, just west of Toronto. "I want to have a better future because as a Middle Eastern woman in my country, I cannot do a lot of stuff," she said. Even as the United States under President Donald Trump becomes more closed off - with a pending ban on visitors from several Muslim-majority countries and a crackdown on immigration violations - Canada's arms remain open. 31 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Stanley King from Limbe, Cameroon said: "It's a really big thing. We all know Canada is one of the best countries in the world. It's known for its uniqueness and its peace." After Trump issued a travel ban order in January, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that his country welcomes all fleeing war and persecution. Since January, nearly 3,500 asylum seekers have entered Canada illegally from the United States. In June, Canada launched a fast-track visa for highly skilled workers, seeking to take advantage of the tougher U.S. immigration environment. 31 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Tom Chitty from Richmond, England said: "I didn't really have a choice because I fell in love with a Canadian so I moved here to get married to her eventually. What am I going to do first? Believe it or not we are going to Tim Hortons." "Canada will welcome a target of 300,000 new permanent residents in 2017," a spokesman for the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada federal department said in a statement. "Planned admissions for resettled refugees in 2017 is 25,000 ... Immigration continues to play a key role in contributing to Canada’s well-being, to our economic prosperity." 31 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch "For thanks I'll pay some charity," Arshad Ahmad from Lahore, Pakistan said. "I feel real honour to be a Canadian. Before I was in the middle of nowhere." During Calgary's ceremony, citizenship Judge Joe Woodward told the new Canadians of their responsibilities to contribute to society and "to keep Canada alive." "When you become a part of Canada, Canada becomes a part of you," he said. 29 May 2017. Calgary, Canada. Reuters/Todd Korol Yosra Boudhrioua, originally from Tunisia, did not speak fluent English when she came to Canada in 2012. But five years later, when she attended the Calgary ceremony, she was completing a degree to become a teacher. "It doesn't put you down," she said of Canada's immigration system, which offers free language classes. "You're always up if you have the passion." 1 / 16 Slideshow 31 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Nasira Ahmad from Lahore, Pakistan, said: "It's a very, very peaceful country. We have our freedom, especially religious freedom. Back home we don't have it, so we are happy here. We are safe. We are peaceful. We have rights." 25 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Mariam Nagawa from Kampala, Uganda, said: "The main reason I wanted to come to Canada was to join my mum, since she was in Canada already. I wanted to live with her because I really missed her. Secondly, Canada's education - I wanted to have my further studies here as I believe that Canada's education is better than the one back home." 25 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Ligia Diaconeseu from Romania said: "The plan for me immediately: I hope to speak English fluently. Now I'm studying at ESL for newcomers... (I hope to) obtain a bachelor's degree at the University of Toronto in Medicine and Law." 31 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Yazan Almadani, 7, from Baghdad, Iraq, said: "I think Canada is our home. I want to be a football player." 31 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Rainer Manzel from Stuttgart, Germany, said: "My aunt told me to come, to find out what it's like here but she never told me about the cold winter." 25 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Farah Morris of Mauritius and Guyana said: "My future plans are to attain a successful and fulfilling career in neuroscience and to live everyday with a positive attitude." 25 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Thea Eustaquio from Manila, Philippines, said: "I want to come to Canada because of wider job opportunities, high quality education, health benefits, visa free travel...and multiculturalism. What I like best about Canada are the raw natural landscapes, parks, diversity and of course the food; maple syrup and BeaverTails!". 25 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Fardin Naibkhil from Kabul, Afghanistan, said: "I came to Canada to have a better life because there are lots of opportunities. Canada is a free country and it's a multicultural country. Everyone has equal rights there is no racism. My future plan is to complete my education and get my degree to serve all people." 25 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Chhe Hyolmo from Sermathang, Nepal, said: "I came to Canada to have a better future. The best thing about Canada is that it's a multicultural country... in future I would like to study law." 25 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Svetlana Grace Joseph, who is three years old and whose parents immigrated from Mumbai, India, said: "I want to be a teacher." 31 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Inge Tajik from Odense, Denmark, said: "I came here because of my husband. He moved here first and I moved after him. Citizenship means I can vote. I've been living here for 25 years." 31 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Victoria Ishai of Netanya, Israel, said: "We chose Canada because it's a safe place and we don't need to worry about our kids going to school and never coming back. Safety is the main thing for us and our kids. What am I going to do first? I'm going to eat poutine as a Canadian." 29 May 2017. Calgary, Canada. Reuters/Todd Korol Laarnice Batal from the island of Negros, Philippines, said: "My husband was working here and I chose Canada for our future, for the future of my kids. This is a good place." 29 May 2017. Calgary, Canada. Reuters/Todd Korol Grace Sutter Hodgins from Cleveland, Ohio, said: "We bought property in British Columbia in 2011 and we've been building a house and making a homestead. I feel I'm carrying on my father's family legacy, because they immigrated to the States right after World War II. I'm sort of following those footsteps and striking out into a new country and starting a new life." 25 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Svitlana Kryvotulska Samilyk from Chernivtsi, Ukraine, said: "Canada is a very good place to live. This country gave me a lot of opportunities. I like Canada because it's a multicultural country. Secondly, the nature. Canada has great places to visit and go camping." 25 May 2017. Mississauga, Canada. Reuters/Mark Blinch Damian Daley from Kingston, Jamaica, said: "We came to Canada to start a new chapter in our lives and considered this chapter the adventure of a lifetime! Who wouldn't want to relocate to Canada? Wonderful country where so many wonderful possibilities exist!"