In the last few months, Andre Gentles has had to endure his girlfriend playfully teasing him that he’s not Canadian as yet.
On Canada Day, the Trent University business administration student along with his younger brother Sean, who is enrolled in Centennial College’s marketing program, and parents Donovan and Keane-Clarke Gentles were sworn in at a ceremony at Ajax Downs.
The couple’s youngest child – Dominique – was born in the Greater Toronto Area during a family visit nine years ago.
“I was looking forward to this day for a couple of years,” said Andre Gentles, who graduated from Notre Dame Catholic Secondary School and aspires to be an accountant. “I am just happy to be a Canadian citizen.”
The Gentles are excited to call Canada home after being on the move in the last two decades.
They left Jamaica in 1995 after the family patriarch was appointed the British Virgin Islands’ national disaster co-ordinator. In December 1998, they moved from Tortola, when he secured a job in Barbados with the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency’s co-ordinating unit.
In August 2008, the family migrated to the Greater Toronto Area.
“Becoming a Canadian citizen is a significant milestone for us,” said Gentles. “Canada represents some of the values we deeply embrace. It also provides an opportunity for our kids to secure a solid education and become useful contributors to the society after entering the job market.”
An avid amateur radio operator who enjoys reading, Gentles is a strategic planning and review adviser with the Office of the Fire Marshal & Emergency Management.
“It’s fulfilling to know that you are helping people and contributing to public safety,” said Gentles, who is a Kingston College graduate and member of the Disaster Recovery Institute of Canada. “This is a field I have been in since 1984 when I worked with the Jamaican Office of Disaster Preparedness and I am thoroughly enjoying it.”
His wife views Canada as the perfect home to raise a family.
“We have been to several countries, but Canada is where we wanted to settle,” said the Scotiabank customer service representative for the last five years. “We visited family and friends here for about 10 years prior to relocating six years ago and we really like it.”
The Gentles were among 40 immigrants from 16 countries sworn in on Canada Day in Ajax in the presence of Canada’s Citizenship & Immigration Minister Chris Alexander.
“This is a day to reflect upon what it means to be Canadian and to reaffirm our commitment to upholding Canadian values which have their roots in democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law,” said Alexander, who is the Member of Parliament for Ajax-Pickering. “It’s a day to recognize both the rights and responsibilities of each and every Canadian.”
By RON FANFAIR