For anyone who has grown up in Canada walking on ice is second nature. It entails shuffling rather than strutting and keeping both feet close to the ground.
But for Dianna Inestroza, of El Salvador, walking on ice is a newly acquired skill after living in Red Deer for just four months. It’s her first winter in Canada and the first time in her life seeing snow.
Now she is getting used to walking on icy sidewalks.
“I fell. It was hard,” she said.
But in her English class at the Central Alberta Refugee Effort office people talked to the students about how to best get around on the ice. “They told us to walk like penguins. You have to be careful,” Inestroza said. When she and her husband go out he holds her arm to make sure she doesn’t fall.
For many other immigrants new to Canada the temperature can be a shock to their system.
Saul Avalos, 27, of El Salvador, said for around five days the weather was terrible, especially because it’s so warm in his home country.
Anamaria Vasquez, of El Salvador, agreed. “It’s very hard because it’s my first winter here. It’s very cold. In my country it’s very warm. . . 30 C,” she said.
Vasquez, 21, moved to Canada eight months ago because there are more job opportunities here. She hopes to take culinary arts at Red Deer College in the future once she finishes studying English.
Clara Garcia, also of El Salvador, said she has been freezing every day and when she goes outside she bundles up with two blouses, two sweaters, a coat and big winter boots. “Somebody say I look like an Inuit (person),” Garcia said.
Garcia, 47, moved to Canada to meet up with her husband. She hopes to continue working as a nurse, which is what she did in El Salvador. She likes Red Deer, but she said she misses the fresh tropical fruit she could get at home.
It can also be an adjustment getting used to holidays that exist on different days in Canada or when common holidays are different altogether.
Behishta Shirahmad, 20, came to Canada from Afghanistan two and a half years ago and is a Muslim. She said holidays like Christmas and Halloween were never celebrated in her home country.
But eventually new immigrants get acclimatized to Canada.
Mary Garito, of Venezuela, moved to Canada after marrying her husband who is Canadian. She said she was very depressed her first winter and she would stay at home. But now three years later she has tried snowboarding and had plans this past weekend to try skiing at Sunshine.
Garito, 24, said celebrating Christmas is different in Canada. In her home country people celebrate in the street and there is dancing and fireworks. She still plans to have a party.