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How new Canadians embrace holiday traditions: ‘Christmas back home was very different’ – Global News

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Decorating Christmas trees, baking winter-themed treats and opening gifts are all typical traditions during the holiday season. 

But for some new Canadians, the holidays are about creating new traditions that stick.

That’s true for Harmeet Singh and Manpreet Kaur, who are ready to spend their second Christmas in Toronto since emigrating from India in April 2018. 


READ MORE:
Canadians desire traditional — but not necessarily religious — Christmas celebrations: poll

“Last year, that was a transition phase where we were just understanding what is given priority here … and learning how to get ourselves involved with Canadian culture,” said Singh.

“This year, I think we are all set. We are pumped for Christmas.”

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Navigating a new country and its culture has expanded beyond Kaur and Singh’s private life — they also give advice to new immigrants about life in Canada on their YouTube channel.

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Under the name Canada Couple, the two cover topics from how to dress for Canadian winters to how to find an apartment. 

“We started this [YouTube channel] because we wanted people and new immigrants to learn from our mistakes,” he said. Now that the two are feeling more settled and comfortable in Canada, they are excited to engage with holiday traditions, said Singh.

Christmas is still celebrated in India, but it depends where you live, he said. Religious celebrations like Diwali are still their top priority, but Kaur says she is enjoying the traditions that come with the Christmas season.

Harmeet Singh and Manpreet Kaur with their Christmas tree. Photo provided by Singh and Kaur.

Harmeet Singh and Manpreet Kaur with their Christmas tree. Photo provided by Singh and Kaur.

“Last year, we did exchange gifts with our colleagues and friends,” said Kaur. “But over here, what we really like is that people try and put a personal touch to it, as they always put a card and write.

“We learned that last year, and this year, we’re trying to implement it as much as we can,” she said. 

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For the couple, the best part about the season is the energy around the holidays, which is similar to the excitement around Diwali in India, said Singh. For Kaur, she’s smitten with Christmas cookies. 


READ MORE:
Christmas around the world: Top carols and how different cultures view Santa Claus

“That’s really amazing because baking is not as big a deal, it’s not too common in India,” she said. “People put so much effort … I really enjoy eating those different cookies.”

Kaur says she encourages Canadians who aren’t new to the country to share traditions and customs with new immigrants to make them feel welcome and a part of the season’s celebrations.

“Tell me about the traditions, like what they do normally,” said Kaur, adding that her co-workers have made her feel involved during the holidays. “That makes me comfortable, and I’m more comfortable asking them more about what they like to do … and how do we celebrate?”

Knowing which traditions work for you

Determining which Canadian holiday traditions to take part in and which to leave behind was what Saima Jamal had to navigate when she moved to Calgary 20 years ago from Bangladesh. 

She remembers her aunt, who had been living in Canada since the 1970s, had a Christmas tree, a full turkey dinner and presents which wasn’t what she was used to being Muslim.

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“It was a good surprise, but a huge insight into how things happen in Canada,” she said, adding that she was shocked to see her cousins wearing Christmas pyjamas and opening gifts.


READ MORE:
Celebrating all cultures’ traditions the key to happy holidays, experts say

“Christmas back home was very, very different. Nobody really celebrated it, we just took a cake and went to our Christian friend’s house,” she said. 

Jamal has put up a tree before, but the tradition didn’t stick for her and her family. Today, she spends her time with the Calgary Immigrant Support Society, a non-profit she co-founded to help settle refugees. 

Depending on the needs of the refugees, sometimes volunteers have brought Christmas trees to their homes and shown them how to decorate one, she said.

They’ve also hosted potluck and community holiday dinners for specific groups, like Syrian refugees and their children, that involve a visit from Santa and gifts, she said.

“For the first time, they experienced Christmas in Canada, it makes them feel a part of Canada … like a part of the society,” she said. “It isn’t so much obviously religious, but it’s just about being part of Canadian traditions.”

Along with hosting refugees, Jamal recently organized a dinner event, along with new immigrants who have connected with the society, to feed the homeless in Calgary. That’s a tradition that’s the most rewarding, she said.

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Recent immigrants in Edmonton took part in their first Canadian Christmas celebration


Recent immigrants in Edmonton took part in their first Canadian Christmas celebration

“There are lots of immigrants who are looking out, just like Canadians, for opportunities to help out in the community around this time of year,” she said. “They’re much more well-settled to give back.”

Very recent immigrants are still figuring out what works for them when it comes to the holidays, said Jamal. She recommends connecting with those families, especially refugees, at this time of year.

“Even if you have nothing to give, if you just come over for a cup of coffee and spend an hour talking to them,” she said. “That is sometimes the best gift you can give to a newcomer.”

Creating your own traditions

Connecting with new friends in their community in Calgary is what helped Rashmeet Dhillon and her family feel more comfortable with winter and want to celebrate Christmas, she said. 

The Dhillons moved from Punjab, India to Canada almost 10 years ago when Rashmeet was 15 years old. She recalls new friends showing her how to make snow angels and their family attending holiday concerts at her sibling’s school.

“I was lucky enough to make some great friends, and they made me feel very included and part of the celebration culture,” she said. 

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For her family’s second Christmas in Canada, she and her sister convinced her parents to get a Christmas tree. The holiday wasn’t unusual for her, as in India they took part in Diwali and Christmas celebrations, even though they are Sikhs.


READ MORE:
Recent immigrants in Edmonton take part in their first Canadian Christmas celebration

“We had to start with a little one, and then two years after that, we got a bigger tree as well,” she said. “And now, every year, we make it a thing where we don’t decorate the tree by ourselves, everybody sits together.”

Now, as an adult, Dhillon has her own holiday traditions, which include inviting her friends for a potluck and wearing a Christmas cardigan to work. She is also teaching her young cousins about the festivities, especially since they love decorating their tree. 

Creating a secret Santa at work is an easy way to integrate newcomers, as it’s not a religious practice and simply involves gift-giving, she said. 

“It’s a nice tradition to start becoming a part of,” she said. “It’s creating that space to just come and enjoy it, to have a good time and have fun with no pressure. I think those are always good.”

 

Olivia.Bowden@globalnews.ca

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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International students still need quarantine plan at Canada border – Canada Immigration News

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Published on July 26th, 2021 at 05:00am EDT

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Although Canada has begun easing border measures, having a quarantine plan is still required at the border — even if you don’t actually use it.

Fully vaccinated travellers no longer have to quarantine for two weeks. Starting August 9, if you are fully vaccinated, you no longer need an on arrival test unless you get randomly selected. Canada currently only considers you to be “fully vaccinated” if it has been 14 days since you got the final dose of a vaccine that has been approved by Health Canada. These currently include: Pfizer, Moderna, Astra Zeneca, and Janssen. Otherwise, you are still considered unvaccinated.

Discover your options to study in Canada

The ninth of August also marks the end of hotel quarantine, where travellers have to pay to stay in a government-approved hotel.

All that being said, you still have to show up to the border with a suitable quarantine plan in case the border officer determines you do not meet the exemption. The federal government issued a presser specifically for international students coming to Canada this fall, reminding them of what they need to do in order to travel to Canada.

Who can enter Canada to study

There are two things you need to come to Canada as a student:

Students coming from India will have to navigate the ban on direct flights. Canada has suspended direct flights between the two countries until at least August 21. Those travelling from India can take an indirect route, but will need a pre-departure COVID-19 test from a third country before coming to Canada.

Quarantine plan

Your should already have a plan to manage the quarantine period for international students as part of its COVID-19 readiness plan. They should also allow you access to food and medicine during your stay. Contact your school for help in developing your quarantine plan before you depart for Canada.

After that, you have to submit your plan to border officials through the ArriveCAN app. This app has been used throughout the pandemic for officer-traveller communication, and it is where you submit all the documents you will need for travel.

Again, you still need a quarantine plan even if you are considered fully vaccinated. Your proof of vaccination must be in English or French, or else you need a certified translation.

Rules subject to change

Health officials are continuing to monitor the coronavirus situation in Canada and around the world. Any change to border measures falls under Health Canada’s responsibility. Other departments, such as the Canadian border, works to implement the health department’s recommendations.

While international travel restrictions fall under the federal governments purview, provincial governments are responsible for their own healthcare systems. The federal government offers a list of each provincial government’s website, which include measures for travellers. Your learning institution will also have its own COVID rules and regulations.

Discover your options to study in Canada

© CIC News All Rights Reserved. Visit CanadaVisa.com to discover your Canadian immigration options.

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Mary Simon to be officially installed as governor general today – CBC.ca

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Join CBC News for live coverage Monday of the installation of Mary Simon as Canada’s first Indigenous governor general.


Mary Simon officially becomes Canada’s first Indigenous governor general today in a ceremony at the Senate building in Ottawa.

Simon — an Inuk from Kuujjuaq in northeastern Quebec — was tapped by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fill the role earlier this month.

The swearing-in ceremony will, for the first time, be conducted in both English and Inuktitut and broadcast in eight Indigenous languages on CBC Radio.

CBC’s chief political correspondent Rosemary Barton will host coverage of Monday’s event from Ottawa on CBC News Network, CBC TV, and CBC Gem beginning at 10 a.m. ET.

Viewers can also follow the event on CBCnews.ca and on Facebook. CBC Indigenous Facebook is hosting the English stream, CBC Nunavut Facebook is hosting the Inuktitut stream, and CBC North Facebook is sharing both.

Following the ceremony, Simon will visit the National War Memorial to inspect a guard of honour and lay flowers in honour of Canada’s war dead — her first act as the Queen’s representative in Canada.

Simon took her first step into the official role Thursday when she spoke with the Queen.

In a short clip of the online conversation that was posted on The Royal Family’s Instagram account, the Queen said it was good to speak with Simon and told her she was “taking over a very important job.”

“Yes, I’m very privileged to be able to do this work over the next few years,” Simon said. “I think it’s vitally important for our country.”

Indigenous leaders — particularly representatives of the Inuit community — have praised the appointment.

“To see somebody like Mary Simon, who is an unquestioned Indigenous leader in this country and has been for decades, be recognized for her leadership and her service in taking on this new responsibility as governor general was something that was really powerful,” Natan Obed, the president of the national Inuit group Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami (ITK), told CBC earlier this month.

But concerns have been raised about Simon’s ability to speak French.

While she is fully fluent in English and Inuktitut, Simon is not fluent in French. Typically, the governor general is expected to have a complete command of both official languages.

Despite Simon’s promise to continue taking French lessons while serving as governor general, hundreds of French speaking Canadians have written complaints to the Office of the Commissioner of Official Languages.

The complaints prompted Commissioner Raymond Théberge to launch an investigation into the process for nominating the governor general.

Despite growing up in northern Quebec, Simon said she never had an opportunity to learn French at an early age because it was not taught at the federal day school she attended.

Day schools operated separately from residential schools but were run by many of the same groups that ran residential schools. They operated from the 1860s to the 1990s.

WATCH | Languages commissioner says he’s received almost 600 complaints about next governor general’s lack of fluency in French

Official Languages Commissioner Raymond Théberge joins Power & Politics to discuss his investigation of the process that chose Mary Simon as the next governor general. 3:49

The government has maintained that Simon is an exemplary candidate despite her lack of fluency in French.

Simon brings an extensive resume with her to Rideau Hall, following a career that included various positions as an advocate and ambassador.

She helped negotiate the James Bay and Northern Quebec Agreement in 1975, a landmark deal between the Cree and Inuit in Quebec’s north, the provincial government and Hydro-Québec.

Widely seen as the country’s “first modern treaty,” the agreement saw the province acknowledge Cree and Inuit rights in the James Bay region for the first time, such as exclusive hunting, fishing and trapping rights and self-governance in some areas. It also offered financial compensation in exchange for the construction of massive new hydroelectric dams to fuel the growing province’s demand for new energy sources.

Simon was also an Inuit representative during the negotiations that led to the patriation of the Constitution in 1982 — which included an acknowledgement of Indigenous treaty rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. 

WATCH | Mary Simon challenges Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau in 1984

The First Ministers Constitutional Conference was held in March of 1984. This exchange happened during a discussion about gender equity. 3:29

In 1986, Simon was tapped to lead the Inuit Circumpolar Conference (ICC), a group created in 1977 to represent the Inuit in all the Arctic countries. At the ICC, she championed two priorities for Indigenous Peoples of the north: protecting their way of life from environmental damage and pushing for responsible economic development on their traditional territory.

In 1994, former prime minister Jean Chrétien appointed Simon as Canada’s first ambassador for circumpolar affairs.

During her time in that role, she helped negotiate the creation of an eight-country group known today as the Arctic Council. She would later be appointed as Canada’s ambassador to Denmark.

Beginning in 2006, Simon served two terms as president of the ITK. In that role, she delivered a response on behalf of Inuit to the formal apology for residential schools presented in the House of Commons in 2008.

WATCH | ᑕᑯᒃᓴᐅᕙᒌᖅᑎᓪᓗᒍ ᑕᐅᑐᒃᓯᐅᒃ: ᐊᕙᑎᒃ ᖁᓕᓪᓗ ᐊᑕᓂᐊᓘᑉ ᑭᒡᒐᑐᕐᑎᖓᑦ

ᖁᕕᐊᓲᑕᐅᓂᐊᖅᑐᖅ ᐊᕙᑎᒃ ᖁᓕᓪᓗ ᐊᑕᓂᐊᓘᑉ ᑭᒡᒐᕐᑐᕐᑎᒋᓂᐊᓕᖅᑕᖓ ᒥᐊᔨ ᓴᐃᒪᓐ 0:00

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Maggie Mac Neil swims to Canada's 1st gold medal of Tokyo Olympics – CBC.ca

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Maggie Mac Neil won Canada’s first gold medal of these Olympics, capturing the women’s 100-metre butterfly in a Canadian record of 55.59 seconds on Monday morning in Tokyo.

China’s Zhang Yufei (55.64) took the silver and Australia’s Emma McKeon (55.72) claimed bronze.

Mac Neil, from London, Ont., is competing in her first Olympics and already has two medals. 

“I can’t believe this moment happened,” she said after becoming an Olympic champion. 

Her time of 55.59 is the third-fastest time ever. Seconds after touching the wall inside the Tokyo Aquatics Centre, Mac Neil squinted up at the scoreboard in disbelief at seeing her name in the No. 1 position. 

“It was more than I was hoping for at this point. I really just wanted to have fun, which I think I did today,” Mac Neil said. “I’m really proud of that and am just trying to swim my best.”

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Find live streams, must-watch video highlights, breaking news and more in one perfect Olympic Games package. Following Team Canada has never been easier or more exciting.

More from Tokyo 2020

At the turn, Mac Neil found herself in seventh position but then put forward a memorable closing 50 metres to touch the wall first. 

WATCH | Maggie Mac Neil wins gold in 100m butterfly:

Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont., won Canada’s first gold medal of these Olympics, capturing the women’s 100-metre butterfly in a Canadian record 55.59 seconds on Monday morning in Tokyo. 6:28

“I’m not usually out fast,” the 21-year-old said. “I like to have time to get going, stay smooth and strong. The second 50 metres is always my sweet spot and where I feel most comfortable.”

Just a day earlier, Mac Neil was part of the Canadian women’s 4×100-metre freestyle relay team that won silver. 

“We haven’t shown the world what we’re here for yet. We’re the underdogs and it’s working to our advantage,” she said. 

At the 2019 world championships, Mac Neil also won gold in the 100-metre butterfly and set a Canadian record at her first world championships. She admitted she was feeling the pressure being the reigning world champion coming into the Olympics. 

WATCH | Mac Neil receives gold medal:

Watch Maggie Mac Neil of London, Ont., receive her gold medal after winning the women’s 100-metre butterfly at Tokyo 2020. 4:55

“Coming in with a target on your back is hard in so many ways. Going into worlds I was relatively unknown so I had that to my advantage,” she said. “That added pressure makes it a little more challenging, so I was just focusing on having fun.”

In other events Monday, Canadian teenager Summer McIntosh finished fourth in the women’s 400-metre freestyle, as did the Canadian men in the 4×100-metre relay. Kylie Masse advanced to Tuesday’s final by finishing second in her 100-metre backstroke semfinal, but Taylor Ruck failed to advance.

Mac Neil, like many of the Canadian swimmers, had a curveball thrown into her journey to the Olympics. 

Normally she trains in the United States, swimming at the University of Michigan. At the 2021 NCAA championships, she won and set an NCAA record in the 100-yard butterfly, becoming the first woman in history to go under 49 seconds in that event.

But she had to change up her preparation leading into the Games because of COVID-19. 

Mac Neil was forced to leave her coaches and training program in the U.S. because of all the changing pandemic-related public health restrictions and start fresh with the team at the high-performance centre in Toronto — not an ideal situation just months before the Olympics. 

WATCH | Breaking down Mac Neil’s golden race:

Maggie Mac Neil wins Canada’s first gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics in the 100-metre butterfly event on Day 3. 1:31

After two weeks of quarantine Mac Neil got to work with the national team and coaches at the beginning of April. She said that while the change wasn’t optimal, she actually ended up improving on a number of different disciplines.

“I was quite nervous about how it was all going to turn out. Switching so close. It worked out for the best,”

McIntosh, 14, in her first Olympic final, was going up against some of the best swimmers in the sport’s history in American Katie Ledecky and Australia’s Ariarne Titmus. 

For most of the race McIntosh held her own, swimming strong behind the two powerhouses. But in the closing 100 metres McIntosh was passed by eventual bronze medallist China’s Bingji Li. Titmus won the gold and Ledecky took silver.

WATCH | Summer McIntosh 4th in 400m freestyle:

Australia’s Ariarne Titmus chased down American star Katie Ledecky to win the Olympic women’s 400-metre freestyle in 3 minutes, 56.69 seconds, swimming the second-fastest time in history. 14-year-old Summer McIntosh of Toronto set a Canadian record of 4:02.42 to finish in fourth place. 8:53

McIntosh finished fourth in the race, breaking her Canadian record she set a day earlier with a time of 4:02.02. 

In the men’s 4×100-metre final, Canada’s Brent Hayden, 37, blasted off the blocks and put the team in a strong opening position in the opening leg. Canada was in third going into the final leg, but anchor Markus Thormeyer was passed by Australia’s Kyle Chalmers in the last 50 metres.

The United States grabbed gold, 3:08.97, Italy finished in second place, 3:10.11, while Australia finished with bronze in a time of 3:10.22. 

Canada’s time of 3:10.82 is a Canadian record.

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