By Jaime Polmateer
After seven years living in Canada a local couple finally received Canadian citizenship, making them Canadians not just in residency and spirit, but as official canucks.
Aida Andersen and Lars Kolind attended a ceremony in Kelowna on Aug. 14 where they took the last step toward becoming full Canadians, though the pair said they’ve felt Canada has been home since their arrival.
“It’s absolutely magnificent—we finally feel we completely belong. When we moved here in 2010 we immediately felt at home, we felt that we were welcome and part of this community and this is just the final step to really prove we do belong,” said Andersen.
“I think that’s the most important thing about it.”
Andersen originally hails from the United Kingdom and Kolind comes from Denmark, but both have spent the better part of the decade living near Clearwater where they’ve been running Nakiska Ranch, a property for tourists and guests to rent in Wells Gray Park.
The property boasts nearly 700 acres and is also a legitimate ranch, complete with more than 100 head of cattle.
When Andersen and Kolind arrived in town, they wasted no time in terms of integrating and making the area home.
“I’m a volunteer for the Clearwater Fire Department and I’ve been in the fire department for seven years now, so the same amount of time we have been here, and I’m also a first responder,” Kolind said.
“I researched before we came; I had 10 spots (picked out) all over British Columbia, then we just travelled to each of the spots and when we came to Clearwater we liked the four seasons, and the community was close to a major city, but we were still out and away, so you can enjoy the nature.”
Clearwater was the second stop on the list following Kamloops, and after checking out a few other places, both realized they were just comparing the other towns to what Clearwater had to offer, so they came back to a local realtor and immediately began planting their roots.
“We looked at each other and said, ‘Why are we just driving around like this when we really want to be (in Clearwater)?'” said Andersen.
“It took us a while to get things in motion to buy this ranch, but we finally did it and never looked back; we chose the right place, hands down.”
The two may have come for the acreage, but Andersen said it’s the welcoming spirit of the community that’s made them stay.
She added when one puts the word out for help or advice on something the local responses are always fast and in abundance.
Being relatively new to the ranching industry this kind of neighbourly attitude is valuable to the couple, and the hospitality they’ve often received is so gracious it can even be surprising, Andersen said.
“Getting into the community and asking the various ranchers for advice, everybody was always there on the spot to advise us and even when we had a little trouble with the heifers, (people would) drive 70km to our ranch to take a look at the cow and help us,” she said.
“It’s that sense of community and it’s always been welcoming to us in this way; we appreciated it very much and it makes us feel really humbled that we’re accepted here.”
Perhaps most importantly, though, is with official Canadian citizenship Andersen and Kolind can finally take part in the democratic process. As Andersen points out, being part of a community also means being politically active.
“It definitely wraps it all up, it’s a very important part of being a citizen, being able to vote,” she said.
With the municipal election just on the horizon she added, “We will be first in line.”
Andersen and Kolind plan to celebrate the new milestone with a party for friends and family in October, saying this year it will be a true Thanksgiving.