Welcoming new citizens with bell toll

Lily Krushel (with family) was the first person to ring the bell at the Civic Centre in Morden on April 3 to celebrate her new Canadian citizenship with mayor Brandon Burley. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

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The bell of a decommissioned World War II ship is ringing again thanks to a new initiative by the City of Morden.

On April 3 new citizens to Canada and residents of Morden rang the bell as a symbol of the city’s commitment to welcoming and accepting newcomers to the community.

Lily Krushel, owner of Bella’s Castle in Morden and instructor at Red River College, was the first to ring the bell with her family.

“It’s been a long journey of 13 years until I actually got the citizenship,” she said. “It’s really exciting for me to finally become a Canadian.”

Krushel came to Canada in 2006 from China to get her Bachelor Degree in business. She worked in Toronto and Calgary and did her Master in Victoria.

“My favourite thing about Morden is the people here,” she said. “Like the mayor said, you feel like home here. People are very welcoming, the community is used to having newcomers here, and we feel like home. We feel like this is a great environment for us to contribute to the economy, to the community. I love Morden.”

Krushel said it was an honour to be the first to ring the bell. “This is quite amazing how the mayor welcomes each one of us new citizens, that we get to do such a ritual to display that,” she said.

The bell is from the H.M.C.S. Morden, a Flower-class corvette that was commissioned to fight Nazi Germany in the Atlantic ocean.

Both the bell and the wheel of the ship hang in the Civic Centre, and mayor Brandon Burley said the city wants to carry on the legacy of the ship.

“When I first came to Morden I saw that bell, and I thought what a neat idea it was that we had that bell, that it existed in this space,” he said. “Then I started thinking about what it represented to the community and to the world at large, that it was instrumental in defeating a terrible display of racial brutality and intolerance, and I started to think about how we could use that bell and further the mission of that ship, even though the ship is long decommissioned.”

Burley’s grandfather served in the Royal Canadian Navy, and Burley grew up hearing stories about the fight on the Atlantic.

“One of the constant messages I heard from my grandfather was that that bell every day would tell you about the rocky seas, would tell you about incoming attacks, would tell you about all kinds of things,” he said. “It comes back to that point of furthering the mission, furthering the legacy of that ship and to continue the legacy by ensuring it still stands as a symbol of tolerance and acceptance.”

“I’m very proud that Council has accepted that idea and that they’ve run with it, and used it as a way of showing to citizens and to residents of Morden that this government won’t stand for those forms of ignorance and intolerance,” he added.

Burley said the success of the immigration program in Morden is a bright spot on the national stage. “We’re not 80 kilometres away from Emerson crossing,” he said. “It’s created a very negative dialogue around immigration and we wanted to showcase the fact that we don’t accept those perceptions, that we are very [embracing] of our new citizens. We’re going to be in their corner.”

The Koryukin family rings the bell at the Civic Centre in Morden on April 3. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

Marcos and Lorena Simpao were one of the families that celebrated by ringing the bell at the Civic Centre in Morden on April 3. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

Alex and Sasha Annamuradov rang the bell at the Civic Centre in Morden on April 3. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)

Roman Plkhotniuk rings the bell at the Civic Centre in Morden on April 3 with mayor Brandon Burley. (LAUREN MACGILL, Morden Times)