The slogan “I Am Canadian” has never held more meaning than it does for Shu Guang Min (Kevin), owner of the Aurore Brillante Restaurant in McLennan.
Kevin, a native of the People’s Republic of China who set up shop in McLennan in November of last year to start up his own business, officially achieved Canadian citizenship status April 25 in Grande Prairie after successfully completing his written knowledge test.
Joining Kevin in Grande Prairie as a local support network were McLennan residents Doug and Joyce Arnold and their daughter, Janice.
For Kevin, the monumental milestone brought closure to a lengthy process which dates back to May 12, 1997 – the day he packed up his belongings and headed for Canada.
“I had to be here (in Canada) for 1,096 days before I could apply for Canadian citizenship,” Kevin said last week, adding that he was one of 35 people on the receiving end of a citizen certificate.
Kevin said he studied a Canadian history book entitled “A Look At Canada” for two months in addition to relying on the support of several faithful customers who quizzed him regularly as a way of preparing for the written exam.
His accomplishment was highlighted by a special surprise party April 28, which was organized by McLennan resident Chris Jones.
Pat Morrison, manager of the restaurant, said more than 40 people filed into the local establishment shortly before 8 p.m. that night to congratulate Kevin, who had no idea what was going on at the time.
“The restaurant was just packed,” Morrison said. “As soon as Kevin saw all the people he became worried that he wouldn’t have enough food and ran back to the kitchen to begin chopping up vegetables.”
While that was going on, patrons and staff made a few modifications to the restaurant, setting up balloons and a gift table in addition to hanging a Canadian flag on the wall.
That was followed by a well-orchestrated scheme to get Kevin out of the kitchen.
“I walked into the kitchen and asked him to come out because a customer wanted to discuss and order with him. That’s when we lowered the boom. He was totally surprised. The look on his face was priceless,” Morrison said.
Kevin, meanwhile, said he was so shocked by the outpouring of support that his emotions got the best of him.
“When I saw all the people and realized what was happening I became so excited that I began to cry,” he said, adding he immediately began singing a song as a way of showing his appreciation to everyone. “I was very, very surprised.”
Kevin, who continues to put smiles on the faces of his valued customers with his charming personality and soothing singing voice, said the recent party has made him feel like right at home in the community.
“I feel so warm here. McLennan is like a second home for me. The people are so kind and affectionate. I just want to thank everyone for paying attention to me and my business,” he added.