WHEN CANADA CALLS
Today is the day we celebrate being Canadian — but what does that mean?
For some newcomers, Canada is defined by the simpler pleasures native-born Canadians take for granted, such as drinking water from the faucet in your home, catching a snowflake on your tongue or finding the needed support for a disability.
Five students from China, Japan, Korea, Poland and Saudi Arabia are taking English-language classes at Kamloops Immigration Services.
Their classes are similar to the mosaic that is Canada.
From diverse backgrounds, each with a different story, they unite at the same place.
Barbara Drozdz came from Poland with her husband and has been in Canada for 16 months. She is in the process of applying for an extension on her visa.
When she landed to Canada, Drozdz left behind a job as a biologist in a national park. She now works as a sales clerk and her husband as a carpenter.
“In Poland, I had good work, but it was hard to live,” she said.
She now makes less money, but it goes further.
“Life is cheaper and easier [in Canada],” she said.
Drozdz appreciates the friendliness of Canadians.
“There is a totally different relationship between peoples,” she said, noting Poland has 10 times the population of B.C.
“People are more friendly [in Canada] because there aren’t too much people.”
She hopes to stay in Canada.
“It’s a better place.”
The other English students agreed and added to the discourse of why they love Canada.
Eunuk Kim, who arrived to Canada from Korea six years ago with her husband and two children, appreciates the services she receives for her child’s autism.
“[Canada] has a good mindset about people with disabilities,” she said.
“They try to support and help.”
Halah Bajaber, who emigrated from Saudi Arabia in January, was surprised to discover she could drink the local tap water because it wasn’t an option in her Middle East home.
It also excited her to see snow for the first time — “Oh, that’s like a movie.” — because her hometown of Riyadh only ever drops to 9 C.
Ying Xie met her husband on the Internet and moved to Canada three-and-a-half years ago.
She moved for the love of a man, but also fell in love with Canada.
“I realized Canada is better than the United States,” she said.
“Canada has low social problems,” Xie said. “Canada is the best place to live.”
Together, the students are overcoming the barriers to learning a new language.
In addition to taking classes at Kamloops Immigration Services, they learn English by watching movies, reading, writing down new words and practicing.
They are all looking forward to celebrating Canada’s 144th birthday today (July 1).
Canada Day festivities take place at Riverside Park, beginning at 7 a.m. Fireworks light up the sky at 10:30 p.m.