It was snowing and bone-chillingly cold when I arrived in Canada in Nov. 1989. A snowstorm just hit Toronto, and there were 20 centimeters of snow on the ground, something I’d never seen in India. It was a warm welcome from a strange new country, and Canada instantly won my heart.
My Canadian education started in Grade 8; my English was very poor at the time. They wanted to put me in ESL, but I resisted it. How could I improve my English in a class full of students who also couldn’t speak English? I wanted to be in regular English classes with Canadian-born kids. I managed to convince my school to let take math and science two years above my grade.
It was terrifying when I first got into the school system. I was shy, nervous, and felt very alone. Nobody wanted to do group work with me because my English was poor. I had no friends. But I never let that bother me. Ignore negative people and actively seek out those willing to support me. I sought those people and took full advantage of any support I could get. That really paid off.
My heartfelt advice to any newcomer to Canada is to be courageous, don’t lose hope, and work hard! Be your own advocate; when others doubt what you’re capable of, show them.
Cold weather, overly apologetic people and hockey are internationally recognized symbols, but this great nation has so much offer to newcomers. I’ve been in Canada for 30 years, and I’m happy to be celebrating Canada’s 153rd birthday.
But in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Governments, leaders, and health officials are advising Canadians to gather virtually to celebrate Canada’s 153rd birthday, as government’s top priority of keeping people safe.
The virtual event will allow residents and online guests to safely mark this national holiday from the comfort of their homes, yards, and patios.
I am glad that I chose Canada because of the beautiful, helpful Canadians I’ve met along my journey. Canada is prosperous as a nation because it’s a country founded and built by people who came here by choice.
People who immigrated here for the chance at a new life, who’ve worked hard to create it and generation by generation, built a tolerant society.
Peace has deep roots in Canada. It’s a country where people are free to express themselves in whatever way they choose. We’re free to choose our language, religion, political beliefs, who we love, and how we dress.
All Canadians are granted these freedoms, and we depend on a fair judicial system to protect these rights. It’s fascinating living in a multicultural environment like the Greater Toronto Area, especially as a journalist. I have the opportunity to meet people with very different backgrounds and learn about their cultures. That multicultural spirit is what Canada stands for, and it’s what makes us great. Canadians include everybody, respect everybody and give equality to all, regardless of where they’re from.
However, circumstances have changed for people who live in Quebec, as their government passed Bill 21, which prohibits public service workers from wearing religious symbols or garb during office hours. Public service workers such as teachers, police officers, and judges are affected by the new law in an attempt to keep public institutions secular. Religious items such as hijabs, kippahs, turbans, and crucifixes are all banned.
Current employees are exempt from the new legislation. Besides that, Canada is still one of the most significant countries in the world. Four seasons, beautiful landscapes, love, peace, hockey, free healthcare—all in abundance. Not to mention support for people with various physical handicaps or intellectual disabilities, for free.
Canada is my home now, and I have deep fondness and love for this country. It’s given me hundreds of special moments and incredible friends and acquaintances. I am proud to be a Canadian.
Happy Canada Day to all!
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