“That is quite bizarre,” said Bridget Byrne, a professor of sociology at England’s University of Manchester who has studied naturalization ceremonies around the world.
When Byrne researched her 2014 book, none of Canada’s events involved the possibility of plunging spectacularly to one’s death. Yet she doesn’t find it preposterous. One of the takeaways from her work: Canada’s enthusiasm for immigration felt more sincere than it did in other places.
Every nation presents an uncomplicated version of its story during these rituals, she says. They’re bound to be self-congratulatory and uncritical. Some would say melodramatic and kitschy. However, the claims in Canada are also less inauthentic than other places, Byrne argues, like the UK, where “narratives around immigration are much more ambivalent.”
Citizenship swearing-ins have only been held in her native Britain since 2004. They’re “an awkward combination of the ceremonial, which the British like to do and they do quite well,” and the “half-hearted, held in dusty town halls,” Byrne says. Canada’s functions, even the everyday ones staged in immigration offices across the country, often feature local organizations that come to celebrate and publicize their services. And Canada, she says, compared to the US or Britain, “has much better wraparound care provided for you as an immigrant.”