Oak Bay’s 103-year-old fundraising champion becomes a Canadian citizen


A 103-year-old fundraising British war veteran living in Oak Bay is now a Canadian citizen.

John Hillman took the citizenship oath during a virtual ceremony on Thursday after living in Oak Bay for about 25 years.

Originally from Wales, Hillman served in the Second World War with the British army and participated in the Burma Campaign. He also served in France, Italy and Africa and is a Burma Star holder.

In an interview with CHEK News, Hillman said the main reason for getting his citizenship was because he felt accepted in Canada.

“I am really proud to be Canadian,” he said.

Hillman initially gained the hearts of many at the start of the pandemic when he began walking laps around his residence, Carlton House, raising more than $100,000 for Save the Children Canada’s emergency COVID-19 fund. He has since completed two other walks around his residence, raising more than $200,000 for Save the Children’s relief coronavirus relief and Ukrainian relief funds.

According to Hillman, the idea to become an official Canadian citizen was sparked during one of those walks.

“Kenny Podmore come with me that day and he just said casually, are you a Canadian citizen? I said no, I’m still a Brit, and he said ‘well what about becoming Canadian?’ I said ‘I’ve been thinking about it,'” Hillman explained.

RELATED: 102-year-old John Hillman wrapping up his walking fundraiser for Save the Children

After some reflection, the Second World War veteran from Wales decided to take the opportunity.

“I thought to myself, I’m virtually a Canadian,” Hillman said. “Twenty-five years living on Beach Drive, I couldn’t be anything else.”

Podmore helped guide Hillman through the citizenship application process, setting up his interviews and organizing his ceremony day.

Earlier this week, Hillman participated in a virtual ceremony, joining about 40 others in what he described as becoming “full-blown Canadian citizens.”

He said he opted for dual citizenship, but will likely ignore his British association.

“I’m too old to travel anyway, I don’t think I should be travelling to England again,” Hillman joked.

At the fine age of 103, Hillman said he asked during his interview sessions if he was the oldest person to apply for Canadian citizenship.

“He said he didn’t know, but said I was the oldest person he had ever interviewed, so he thought I was more than likely the one,” Hillman said.

Hillman is considering doing another fundraising walk for his 104 birthday but said it may look a little different because of his age.

RELATED: 101-year-old Oak Bay World War II veteran to raise money by walking around his courtyard 101 times

Mackenzie Read

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