Eight new citizens will embark on a canoe trip on the Canada Day weekend, organized by Canadian Wilderness Trips. The Torontobased company offered the adventure free and picked the eight from letters they sent explaining why they wanted to experience the wilderness. The group will tour Ontario’s Algonquin Provincial Park June 28 to July 1. Since none of the applicants have ever done this kind of trip, the company invited them to its headquarters on June 11 to show them the gear they’ll use. While trying on life jackets and climbing into tents, three participants talked about the trip, and what it meant to be Canadian.
What I like the best is the four seasons here. In Pakistan we have only summer and monsoon-rain. So when I call home, I tell them about the seasons. I love wildlife, so I tell them about the birds, and how the songs of the birds tell us that spring is about to come. We have only seen that in the movies, but we have never actually experienced it. And I tell them about the multicultural aspect of the society here, which we’re missing in so many different countries. If I want to have a Pakistani dish, I can find Pakistani restaurants here, right? If I like Italian food,
I can go find an Italian restaurant. No matter which country you are from, a part of your culture will be seen somewhere in Toronto.
I’ve been telling people about this trip since I applied for it. My bank was really excited. They are giving me a T-shirt and a sweatshirt with a logo on it. But I had to fight to get a day off on Monday, because I’m the most junior in the department. What I hope to get out of this weekend, number 1, is that I will see the true meaning of life-we are doing everything by ourselves. Number 2 is that I will be able to learn canoeing. And we will meet people from other countries and share different experiences.
MANKAJEE SHRESTHA, 53. Professional engineer. Born in Nepal. Canadian since February 2003.
I asked to come to Canada thinking that here we would have better opportunities, less people. That is what I did, and I was lucky enough that I was granted permission to live here. A good country, large, people are nice. When I have conversations with my friends back home they’re always very fascinated, and want to come and join me here. The way here, the Canadian way of life-people are really co-operative, and there is almost no discrimination. I say it’s nice and clean, that’s what I say when I talk about Canada, and they’re always fascinated to hear of that.
I was living in Kathmandu, the capital of the country. It was quite calm until some politics arose. Now there is a political class. People are rising up against the monarchy, the absolute dictator. Nobody can say anything against him, and life is getting more callous and careless, you see. We are unsure about what is going to happen tomorrow. So that made me want to leave the country, actually.
I was lucky enough to be selected for this wilderness trip. That is a first to me in my life so far. Canoeing in the lakes, and then to be in the tents, hiking, this and that, that will be very fascinating. And then Canada Day will be celebrated in the wilderness, and that is a very good part to see. That is a unique way to celebrate. I wish it to continue, and let new Canadians see another trip like this. That will be very good, to know Canada as a whole.
I am originally from New York City. I am basically a big-city person and I have never been to Algonquin Park or northern Canada. My wife passed away on April 13, 2002, from liver cancer. The last year has been very difficult and it has been a period of adjustment for my daughter and 1.1 thought this trip would help me during this difficult period. I think that paddling a canoe through the beautiful lakes and rivers would be inspiring and help me to see there is some beauty in life. I’m looking forward to this adventure.
I find there is a growing difference between Americans and Canadians. I didn’t think that way when I first came to Toronto because I
felt it was a very American city-the culture is the same, and language, and we get the same television. But Canadians are more liberal in their thinking, they’re more diverse, and I feel more comfortable with that way of thinking. I really enjoy the environment and the friendly neighbours, and I think it’s just a wonderful place to live.
I’m excited about meeting other new Canadians, too, because when I went to the the citizenship swearing-in ceremony, I found that very moving. The judge gave a speech about what it’s like to be a Canadian, and I looked around me and most of the people obviously had a more difficult life than I had, and they really appreciated the opportunity that Canada gave them. You
could really see the glow in their faces about becoming a Canadian. I’d like to speak to some other new Canadians and hear their experiences.
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