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International students and new Canadians hit the ice for the first time in Cambridge


Canadian winters are typically long and frigid. But for many, it’s the best time of year to dust off helmets, sharpen skates and find the nearest rink.

Some international students and new Canadians in did just that on Friday, hitting the ice for the very first time through a free skating program in Cambridge.

“[It’s] kind of exciting to learn something that I feel like is so common here,” said University of Waterloo international student Hawa Patel.

Students embraced the Canadian cold by testing out a Canadian favourite.

“It was a bit scary but I think having someone there to just reassure me was really nice,” Patel said.

Naomi, second from the left, poses with her friend and YNCU volunteers following a free skating event for newcomers and International students at the Cambridge Sports Park on Jan. 27, 2023. (Hannah Schmidt/CTV Kitchener)

Among those getting their first taste of ice skating on Friday was Naomi, who moved to Canada from India in 2019.

“It’s good to embrace this Canadian culture,” Naomi said.

She made the move to Canada to attend Conestoga College. When she heard about a free skating program being offered to international students and new Canadians, she said she couldn’t pass that up.

“When you go to another country, it’s good to learn… I believe in a growth mindset and it’s very good to learn and grow and develop,” Naomi said. “It’s great to embrace Canadian culture, I love it.”

Teaming up with the Cambridge Sports Park, the free skating program called Motivate 2 Skate offers experienced instructors who outline the basics of skating.

“We’ve been looking for ways to welcome new Canadians to the community. So what better way than to introduce them to this favourite pastime and provide them with a judgment free zone to learn how to skate,” said YNCU communications specialist Hannah Johnson.

The free program was first offered in Sault Ste. Marie back in October and after a successful event with 25 people singing up the first day, YNCU decided to expand the program to other areas, including Waterloo region.

“We are very aware there’s a large population of international students in the Kitchener-Waterloo-Cambridge area, so we decided to do this initiative here and, you know, really give them this new experience,” Johnson said.

Johnson is from Jamaica and said being a part of this program has meant a lot to her.

“It makes me really feel welcome and not so much of an outsider after making such a big move. So it makes me feel more comfortable to own that new Canadian title,” Johnson explained.

The program will run Fridays until March 3 from 11:15 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Cambridge Sports Park. More information is available here. Top Stories

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