Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Teacher studies, students learn

  • Print
CITIZENSHIP may seem like an abstract topic to teach to a group of Grade 1 students, but Carol Harms, a teacher and acting principal at Beautiful Saviour Lutheran School in St. Boniface, has found a unique way of getting the message across.

On May 7, she led her students on a field trip to citizenship court, where she was sworn in as a brand-new Canadian citizen. Fortunately, citizenship court is the one kind of courtroom in which it's okay to bring a cheering section.

"The judge said, 'Mrs. Harms, I think you need to turn around and take a bow,'" she says.

The ceremony was a lesson in citizenship for the students, and for many of their parents who came along for the event.

"They said it was the most impressive thing they'd ever seen," says the U.S.-born Harms. "There were 55 people from 29 different countries becoming (Canadian) citizens."

It turned out to be an emotional moment for Harms, even though it wasn't her first time in citizenship court.

"I told the parents, as we were getting the kids ready, I feel like I'm going to a wedding."

Her husband, Dr. Leonard Harms, had taken the oath a few years before. Her daughter Kendra has taken the written test to become a citizen, and is awaiting notification of her day to be sworn in.

"My husband travels a lot and he finds having the Canadian passport he's always welcome," she says.

Although she's a teacher, Harms says the prospect of studying for a citizenship test was daunting. She was pleased, though, to discover that people 60 or over don't have to take the test.

Not that a short quiz on Canada would have been a huge challenge anyway. Harms has had an interest in Canada ever since she was a little girl growing up in Oregon.

"Even in Grade 1, I listened to Yukon King on the radio," she says.

As an adult, she taught school children about Canadian geography. Then, while living in a small town in Montana not far from the Canadian border, she heard O Canada every morning on the radio.

"We could sing O Canada long before we moved here," she says.

In the 10 years she has lived here, Harms has traversed much of the true north, strong and free. She travels frequently to Vancouver and Edmonton, and loves driving across the Prairie provinces. She's visited Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto, where she visited the Group of Seven museum, and she dreams of taking a trip to the North. She has aboriginal friends in Dryden, Ont. who have taken her out onto the Canadian Shield lakes of the area.

"I have friends across Canada," she says.

Beautiful as she says the country is, Harms says it's the people who attracted her to become a citizen.

"Other places I've lived, women will talk about food, children. Here, in the circles I visit, the women are talking about politics."

In her own small school, there are two students whose families are going through the immigration process. As well, a group of recent arrivals from east Africa take language classes at the school.

Harms has also been inspired by conversations with Valerie Pierce, a parent at the school who teaches English as a second language. Through her, Harms has learned more about the work and sacrifice that many new Canadians make to come to Canada and adjust to life here.

That's why she decided to bring her students to the court to watch the swearing-in ceremony.

"I want the children to know that there are many people who would want to live in Canada because of what Canada has to offer," she says. "I want them to see this so they don't take it for granted. They'll never forget this."

And given the timing of her swearing-in ceremony, Harms isn't going to take her citizenship rights for granted when this spring's provincial election comes.

"I am listening very carefully. I really believe my vote does count."


Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition May 14, 2003 $sourceSection$sourcePage

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Selinger addresses stadium lawsuit

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • PHIL.HOSSACK@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 101130-Winnipeg Free Press Columns of light reach skyward to the stars above Sanford Mb Tuesday night. The effect is produced by streetlights refracting through ice crystals suspended in the air on humid winter nights. Stand Up.....
  • A one day old piglet glances up from his morning feeding at Cedar Lane Farm near Altona.    Standup photo Ruth Bonneville Winnipeg Free Press

View More Gallery Photos


Did you watch the Bruce Jenner interview?

View Results

Ads by Google