Welcome to winter: NorQuest throws a winter festival for students

Ayham Alkafri grinned from ear to ear while he recounting his first and somewhat feeble attempt at skiing.

“I tried to ski but I fell lots of times, but I am happy,” Alkafri, a new immigrant from Syria and student in the Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program at NorQuest College, said with a laugh.

On Thursday, almost 850 LINC students joined in a winter festival hosted by NorQuest in Rundle Park, teaching new immigrants about the culture of Canada in winter.

“This is a cultural experience for a lot of them, because for some of our students it may be their first winter,” said Helena Ahn, an instructor with NorQuest College’s LINC program.

Students tried cross-country skiing, sleigh rides, snowshoeing and cooking bannock over an open fire.

Ahn said many of her students come with a negative perception of winter in Canada and often don’t know how to handle the bitterly cold temperatures and snow that come with the season.

“A lot of them fear the winter,” Ahn said, adding many new Canadians find themselves confined inside during winter months, missing out on valuable experiences that would otherwise help them build relationships with their community and learn about Canadian culture.

Alkafri, who came to Canada a year ago, was one of them.

“I like Canada, but not exactly in the winter,” said Alkafri.

“When I came here it was winter, but I stayed in my home because I didn’t know anything here,” he said. “In my country, if it snows a lot everything is closed, but here, it’s minus 40 and life is complete.”

By introducing their students to many ways Canadians enjoy the winter months, Ahn said it enables and empowers them to fully participate in Canadian life.

“I think it helps them to learn about their new home, and to reap the benefits of what Edmonton, Alberta and Canada as a whole has to offer,” Ahn said.

Alkafri said getting outdoors has opened new opportunities for him to make friends and enjoy Edmonton year round, adding he is looking forward to trying new winter sports.

 

 

Khaled Wala (right) and friend Naif try out cross country skiing at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College's Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making.
Khaled Wala (right) and friend Naif try out cross country skiing at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making. LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA NETWORK
Ahmad Alqaddha (left) and Abdulrah Man Elhuseyin enjoy a day in the sunshine at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College's Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making.
Ahmad Alqaddha (left) and Abdulrah Man Elhuseyin enjoy a day in the sunshine at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making. LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA NETWORK
A group of students from NorQuest College's Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, enjoy a wagon ride during an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making, at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017.
A group of students from NorQuest College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, enjoy a wagon ride during an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making, at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA NETWORK

 

Ana Diaz enjoys a day in the sunshine at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College's Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making.
Ana Diaz enjoys a day in the sunshine at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making. LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA NETWORK
A group of students from NorQuest College's Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, enjoy a wagon ride during an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making, at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017.
A group of students from NorQuest College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, enjoy a wagon ride during an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making, at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA NETWORK
Norquest College student Jeana Aref takes a walk in the sunshine at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making.
Norquest College student Jeana Aref takes a walk in the sunshine at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making. LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA
Feven Isak tastes a fire-roasted marshmallow at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making.
Feven Isak tastes a fire-roasted marshmallow at Rundle Park in Edmonton on January 26, 2017. A group of students from NorQuest College’s Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) program, many of whom are experiencing their first winters in Canada, attended an all-day winter festival, which included cross country skiing, snowshoeing and bannock making. LARRY WONG / POSTMEDIA

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