Halton Region Chair Gary Carr played the role of Captain Canada when he welcomed three members of the Ensminger family as Canadian citizens following the Canada Day Citizenship Court in Burlington. Celebrating, left to right, are Ingo, Yara, Erik and Beate Ensminger. Yara, Erik and Beate received their certificates and Ingo will next year. Yara is ready to compete for Canada at the 2015 World Junior Rowing Championship in Brazil. Carr, himself, was an athlete of some distinction. He won a Memorial Cup championship as a goalie with the Toronto Marlboros in 1975. But at that time the Maple Leaf he was wearing was blue and white!
When Yara Ensminger tunes in on TV for the Pan-American Games rowing competition, she’ll be paying particular attention to the tactics used by athletes from South America.
The 18-year-old graduate of Oakville-Trafalgar high school has been selected to row for Canada at the 2015 World Junior Championship in Brazil in August.
Ensminger was born in Germany, a country that has won more Olympic gold medals in rowing than any other, but her family emigrated to Canada when her father Ingo, a university professor, was recruited to work here.
Three members of the Ensminger family – Yara, her brother Erik, 14, and mother Beate became Canadian citizens during the Citizenship Court held at Burlington’s Spencer Smith Park on Canada Day.
Her father Ingo has simply been too busy to apply for his citizenship, but plans to do that next year.
Although Ingo was a rower in Germany himself, Yara didn’t start to train seriously until she came to Canada and joined the Don Rowing Club in Port Credit. .
On the same Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon course that will be used for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Yara will team with Pari Baker of Mississauga to represent her newly adopted country in the women’s quad. Baker, who attends Clarkson Secondary School, won a gold medal in swimming at the Ontario high school championships in March.
“I’m excited,” Ensminger said. “I didn’t really row in Germany, but I’ve worked really hard here for the last two years.”
Ingo and Beate Ensminger met at university in Freiburg, Germany and, after they were married, arrived in Canada for the first time in 2004, living in London while Ingo worked on a research project at the University of Western Ontario for two years.
They went back home, but when Ingo accepted a job in the biology department of the University of Toronto, the family crossed the Atlantic again, this time landing on Canada Day of 2010, exactly five years before three of them took the oath before Citizenship Judge Ted Salci.
“We are returning customers,” Ingo smiled. “We are satisfied with the product!”
Because Rowing Canada does not have the resources to fund junior athletes 100 per cent, each of them must raise $4,200 for flights and accommodation during the competition.
Ensminger and Baker have launched a website to ask for donations. All donors will be invited to a farewell party at the Don Rowing Club before they leave for Brazil and those who are adventurous enough can go for a short spin with them on the Credit River.
Ironically, it was on Canada Day that Mark Oldershaw, a paddler from Burlington, was named official flag bearer for Canada in the July 10 opening ceremonies of this month’s Pan-American Games.
Oldershaw’s grandfather Bert, who died in 2006 at the age of 84, competed for Canada in the 1948, 1952 and 1956 Olympics, and used to boil when sportswriters confused rowing and paddling. Bert Oldershaw never got to see his grandson compete in the 2012 Olympics, where he won a bronze medal in the men’s singles 1,000-metre canoe event.
Canada Post may have thrown a monkey wrench into the Canada Day ceremony.
Invitations were mailed out to 40 prospective new Canadians three weeks in advance and only 12 showed up.
Citizenship Court clerk Judy Lee-Wu said she has no idea what happened.
“This has never happened before,” she said. “We had ceremonies in Brantford and Hamilton the same day and all invitees attended. It was very uncomfortable holding an event with only 12 people. But once the mail leaves our office, we have no control over it.”
Wu said those who did not receive their certificates will be included in the next scheduled Citizenship Court for sure.
Contradiction also reared its ugly head on Canada Day. After Salci welcomed the new Canadians and outlined the freedoms, privileges and openess they will enjoy in their new country, court officials refused to release a list of names of the new citizens to the media, citing privacy regulations.