Lovleen Sharma and husband Harsh Goyal, having recently arrived from their native India to resettle in Canada, are loving their new lives together in Sault Ste. Marie.
As part of what they intend to be an ongoing series of videos uploaded to Facebook and YouTube chronicling their Canadian experiences, they have told a video tale of their first Christmas in Canada.
The couple arrived in Sault Ste. Marie from New Delhi, India’s capital city, July 29, 2020. Their visas were dated and issued just days before Canada imposed COVID-19 travel restrictions in March.
“We came to Canada for the standard of living, healthcare, education, and we saw this as a very beautiful community. Most people choose to come to bigger cities like Toronto or Brampton, but we wanted to move to a smaller, peaceful city to be closer to nature. (While still in India) we wanted to find out more about Sault Ste. Marie. I was able to contact a lot of people online, through email and through Facebook, in touch with a lot of people like Indians who were already living in Sault Ste. Marie as well as local people. I was in touch with them for a year and a half and everyone was so nice and helpful. The city looked beautiful,” Sharma said, speaking to SooToday Tuesday.
With a professional background in public relations and corporate communications, Sharma is now working as a business development and communications associate with Kapptive Studios, a software development/integrated business solutions/social media management business operating in the Sault.
Husband Harsh Goyal is currently working locally in food delivery, having operated his own grocery store and wholesale clothing shop in India.
“The people here are beautiful. Everyone who we have met has been very helpful and kind to us. I’m planning to make another video before the New Year comes to thank everyone who has helped us through this quarantine.”
In appreciation for the community, Sharma has already gotten involved with the Sault Ste. Marie Helping Hands board of directors, Helping Hands a not-for-profit which strives to help those in need by providing them with new or good quality second hand clothing and household items.
Sharma and Goyal celebrated Christmas 2020 at the home of her friend Andrea Dawn Garcia and Garcia’s two daughters, Noemi and Giordana.
“They are family to us,” Sharma said.
While naturally familiar with Diwali, a festival of lights, celebrated by Hindus and other groups in India, Sharma said she and her husband have also celebrated Christmas before, having attended a convent school and gathering at annual Christmas services in her homeland.
“I wanted to go this Christmas as well (locally), but most of the churches were closed,” Sharma said.
“The best thing about this Christmas was being with our new family (Garcia and her daughters) and decorating our Christmas tree, we enjoyed baking (Sharma and Goyal also having received T-shirts from the City of Sault Ste. Marie in a welcoming gesture).”
“This is a smaller city,” Sharma said, describing the difference in size and greater community feeling as compared to New Delhi with a massive population of 30.2 million people, a staggering number for one city to the average Canadian. "Everyone here has been helpful and polite to us. There is no discrimination based on anyone’s financial status or the job they are doing. This is closer to nature. In India we would have to travel an eight hour drive to be closer to nature.”
The only ‘negative,’ Sharma said, is that she and her husband miss a greater availability of Indian food in the Sault.
“If it was late at night, we used to go out and eat, but we have adjusted to Tim Hortons and McDonald’s,” she chuckled, though she said she appreciates the recently-opened Taj Indian Cuisine restaurant on Great Northern Road.
Though snow was late in arrival and in smaller than usual amounts so far this winter, Sharma said “we want to try a few winter sports. Let’s see if we get some more snow in the next two months,” she said, with a smile in her voice.
Sharma and Goyal invite the public to check out their YouTube channel, intended to promote the Sault for immigrants and tourists, presented in Hindi with English subtitles.
“We’re looking forward to all your support and suggestions for topics for our channel. We can proudly say that the Sault is Algoma's friendliest city and the best place for us to settle.”