Because Canadian winters are long, and because it’s important to make newcomers to Canada feel welcome, YNCU and YNCU Soo Pee Wee Arena staff have teamed up to teach some of the Sault’s newest residents how to skate.
Friday marked the second of six weekly learn-to-skate sessions at the North Street arena for recently-arrived international students.
“We wanted to find a way to give back to the community. In Sault Ste. Marie a lot of people skate and play hockey, and a lot of people who aren’t from Canada don’t have the opportunity to learn how to skate so we decided to do this and it’s been great so far,” said Aaron Robinson, YNCU staff member.
The free-of-charge program can accommodate 25 people per session and will have experienced instructors from the Pee Wee and YNCU on the ice to help.
“It’s been cool seeing everyone get their balance. It’s really cool to see people get out and learn to do things we do here. Dealing with winter six months of the year, if you’re not into some kind of winter sport it’s got to be pretty boring so I think learning to skate is great,” Robinson said.
“It’s going to be our first winter. This is my first time skating. I’m going to try. In this country it’s good to know how. I would also like to learn how to ski,” said Ricardo Medina, who was at the Pee Wee on Friday with his 11-year-old daughter Isabella.
The Medina family moved to the Sault from Colombia six months ago.
“I’m loving Canada,” said Xylene Tandoc, who hails from The Philippines.
She is currently enrolled in her third semester in Sault College’s social service worker program.
“I know a lot of people dread the winter but I enjoy it. I think of myself as a very adventurous person so I really like trying to get out and try different things, and ice skating is one way to immerse myself in Canadian culture,” Tandoc said.
“This is my first time skating, ever. I enjoyed it so much. I am going to look forward to this every week. If I’m exhausted from school work I might want to come here on weekends and practice by myself or bring one of my friends who knows how to skate to help me out.”
Knowing how to rollerblade assisted her in taking to the ice on Friday, Tandoc said, adding she enjoys the outdoor recreational activities that the Sault has to offer.