Expanding Circles

From a speech by William Lyon Mackenzie King. Radio broadcast from the Supreme Court of Canada, January 3, 1947, on the occasion of his receipt from Chief Justice Thibaudeau Rinfret of the first citizenship certificate under the new Canadian Citizenship Act. Canadians were previously known exclusively as British subjects. King was one of twenty-six people on that day receiving the first Canadian citizenship certificates. From Brian Busby (Ed.), Great Canadian Speeches: Words That Shaped A Nation (2008):

…I recalled how, when very young, some of us had found pleasure in throwing pebbles into a pond, and how fascinating it was to watch the ripples of water radiating in ever expanding circles to the pond’s circumference. In this way I sought to bring home the opportunities of citizenship in terms of service to the public. I pointed out the opportunity for service first of all to the local municipality–the town or the city, and to the county in which one lives–then, thinking of expanding areas, to one’s province, and then to Canada as a whole. I sought, as well, to bring home the truth that as the circumference of the circle of opportunity expands for the citizen, so do his duties and responsibilities. It is the interest taken by individuals in the expanding circles of citizenship that holds human society together.

Other “first Canadian citizens”:

None

First official citizenship ceremony in Ottawa, 1947
(l to r) Naif Hanna Azar from Palestine, Jerzy Wladyslaw Meier from Poland, Louis Edmon Brodbeck from Switzerland, Joachim Heinrich Hellmen from Germany, Jacko Hrushkowsky from Russia and Anton Justinik from Yugoslavia.
(Back row: l.-r.:) Zigurd Larsen from Norway, Sgt. Maurice Labrosse from Canada, Joseph Litvinchuk, Roumania,
Mrs. Labrosse from Scotland, Nestor Rakowitza from Roumania, Yousuf Karsh from Armenia,
with Mrs. Helen Sawicka from Poland.
Credit: Chris Lund, National Film Board of Canada
Library and Archives Canada/PA-129262.
Source: www,thecanadianencyclopedia.ca

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