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'It's a new experience': Newcomers adjust to winter weather in Winnipeg


New Canadians living in Winnipeg are making strides trying to get used to temperatures they never saw back home. For some, acclimatizing means lacing up their skates and learning a classic Canadian pastime.

The West End Business Improvement Zone (BIZ) hosts free skating lessons at Central Park. The program is offered Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. weekly, depending on the weather. It was supposed to start last week, but the frigid forecast put the program on ice for another few days.

“It was just too cold to skate so we cancelled it,” said Gloria Ndikumana, the marketing and communications coordinator for the West End BIZ.

Ndikumana is a newcomer herself, immigrating to Winnipeg from Rwanda about two years ago. She said she was excited when she found out about the program.

“I’m just really happy that programs like these exist for people like me who are new or not very used to Canadian winters especially,” she said.

According to the Manitoba Bureau of Statistics, last year, the province welcomed 19,770 immigrants. That includes South Sudanese refugees Daniel Deng and John Mayen.

“In Africa, the temperatures didn’t reach negative,” said Deng. “They’re just warm. But it is extremely cold.”

Both Deng and Mayen said they’re still adjusting to the winter weather.

“It’s getting better now,” Mayen said. “I’m getting used to it.”

Reuben Garang, the director of Immigration Partnership Winnipeg said some people start preparing for cold climates even before they move.

“Some entities now have started to do overseas orientations, telling people about how cold it is here,” Garang said.

Lifelong Manitobans like Winnipeg Mayor Scott Gillingham offered this advice: “Make sure you dress warm with winter boots and jackets and ski pants and gloves or mitts and toques to make sure that you protect yourself from the cold weather.”

But Garang said newcomers have to feel it to believe it.

“When you come here it’s something else,” Garang said. “It does not matter [what] you have been told. It’s very cold. It’s a new experience.”

For some people, it’s a new experience worth bundling up for. Top Stories

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