For retired Nursing professor and two-time McMaster graduate Alba DiCenso
, food was the way to keep culture alive.
Growing up in Welland, Ontario, the daughter of Italian immigrants says her family kept their heritage alive and well in Canada in part through food - something they shared with their immigrant neighbours who hailed from countries all around the world.
"We'd have them over for spaghetti, and they'd have us over for perogies," she says.
The ability to maintain that cultural heritage in Canada is one of the many things on DiCenso's mind when she presides over Hamilton's Canadian citizenship ceremonies.
One of three such volunteers in the city - all Order of Canada recipients, including McMaster's Gary Warner - DiCenso is responsible for leading new Canadians through their oath of citizenship and welcoming them to their new home.
She says her experience as the daughter of new Canadians gives her unique insight into the lives of the people she sees at the ceremonies.
"I think I can relate to what some of the new Canadians have gone through," she says. "I also want them to know that I was a child who couldn't speak English, but who was able to get a university education. What they can accomplish in Canada is limitless."