Madeline Coopsammy

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My name is Madeline Coopsaamy, and I come from Trinidad in the Caribbean. My life in the Caribbean was always light-hearted, full of music, song and dance. But that was when we were young, and that is true of young people everywhere, unless they accept a strict code of rules where these things are forbidden or frowned upon. However, one cannot deny that life in a warm country does tend to be freer because of the weather. A warm or hot climate makes people more easy-going. They do not have to think ahead too far in advance. They do not have a Manitoba winter to contend with. Winter makes you more careful in almost every aspect of your life. You have to slow down, not only when you drive your car, but also when you walk because the sidewalks are treacherous.

My voyage to Canada entailed traveling by plane from Port of Spain to Toronto, being checked over by an immigration doctor who pronounced me healthy and free from disease, and having my immigration papers stamped and getting on a plane to Winnipeg where my fiancée was to meet me.

Adjusting to life in Canada was certainly a challenge, for there was more technology than I was used to. I had to learn how to use washing machines, coin operated machines, drink dispensers, and other new things. However, the greatest challenge was winter. How to dress for it, how to slow down for it. How to stop oneself from gazing in awe at the fluffy, snow-clad branches of the pine and spruce trees, and instead to learn to look down and avoid treacherous icy patches which would send you into a bone-crushing stumble.

Canada is a place that I feel safe, aside from the icy sidewalks, and where people are treated with respect. Though there are many inequalities in Canadian society, and though sometimes justice has gone astray, it has been a fairer place to live than many other places in the world. Canadian people, at least most of them, have welcomed us. People of many skin colours, religions and cultures from far-flung countries of the world have given us a place in which to earn a living, have our own home, drive decent cars and have freedom here, more or less. And above all, to live without fear of intimidation or harassment.

As a country, Canada does not interfere in the politics of other countries, and assists other countries in times of need. I am proud to call myself a Canadian, and am grateful for my Canadian passport which earns me respect wherever I go in the world.