SUDBURY --  It is a day that many have been waiting a long time for, the day they were officially recognized as Canadian.

A special citizenship ceremony was held at Lasalle Secondary School in Sudbury on Friday.

I’m going to thank you God for everything," said Hussein Qarqouz, one of the 137 people who officially took the oath Feb. 28. "Thank you. I am here. I think I’m not more scared for anything. I’m Canadian now; me and my family now."

Qarqouz first came to Canada in 2016.

Not only did he officially become a Canadian citizen Friday, but so did three of his sons.

"It was scary because you are alone. You come to a new country and you don’t know anyone here, but a few months later it got better," said Ousama Qarqouz, Hussein’s 15-year-old son. "We made friends. Like now, I’m so happy."

Hussein is the proud owner of the local Damascus Café and Bakery. He says the community has been truly welcoming.

"People in Sudbury are very friendly and have been and like my food in my shop, Damascus Café and Bakery. Maybe I have a celebration. I need to give poor people free food," said Qarquoz.

The ceremony was filled with many people, all with their own unique stories and paths to Friday’s event.

Mohamed Shoukri came to Canada in June 2016 from Egypt, where he was a paediatrician.

"It feels great," Shoukri said. "It feels heartfelt. It feels like you come to the point of satisfaction of fulfilment in your life. It’s not one word, one sentence to summarize all of that."

Now, he’s working towards being a family physician while also working as a grad teaching assistant at Laurentian University.

"I’m doing a thesis, assessment of breastfeeding practices among Indigenous women, and that’s why I choose Sudbury, to be in northern Ontario to be close enough to Indigenous communities," said Shoukri.

Local dignitaries at the ceremony included Sudbury MP Paul Lefebvre, Nickel Belt MP Marc Serré and Sudbury MPP Jamie West.

Lefebvre said citizenship ceremonies rank amongst his favourite events to attend.

"My message to them is to get involved," said Lefebvre. "Get involved in your community because then your community gets to know you. That’s the only way that we can truly break down barriers and break down the prejudices that we may have in our community is by getting to know each other. Once we break down those barriers, that is what makes Canada strong."