A handful of newcomers were treated to a very Canadian experience this weekend with a trip to the mountains to participate in skiing lessons.
Stanley Anawune was starting to get the hang of carving his way down the hills.
He moved to Lethbridge about eight months ago from Nigeria and took his second skiing lesson on Saturday.
“Last time I came, all of us — me, my wife and three kids — were all skiing at the same time, and it was fun. It is a good way of getting families together,” Anawune said.
He is just one of the more than 40 new Canadians who took part in the program offered by Pass Powderkeg and Lethbridge Family Services (LFS).
The organization said many on the trip emigrated from warm-weather regions like the Middle East and noted that a person’s first Canadian winter can be daunting.
But experiences like these can ease the transition.
“The more we provide, the more they are successful in their transition to Canadian communities and culture,” said LFS community connections manager Najib Mangal.
This was the program’s second trip after holding its first one last Saturday.
It was made possible by a $30,000 grant from Makadiff Sports.
The groups hope the program will help immigrants and refugees feel more at home while at the same time helping them “feel Canadian.”
“I love seeing the smiles of that moment when they get that stop, when they get that turn and enjoying the same things that I’ve enjoyed my entire life,” said Pass Powderkeg’s operations manager Katherine Seleski.
Hussain Katebeh is one of about 400 Syrians who now call Lethbridge home.
He was also on the trip with his son, Ahmad, and daughter, Fatima, and Katebeh said they couldn’t have had a better time.
“My children are happy,” he said.
LFS said it is looking at holding a summertime hike in the area for newcomers as well.