I Came to Prince Edward Island as a Refugee—and Found Peace in the Canadian Winter

I was scared of the Canadian cold when I first arrived in P.E.I., but the simple act of walking in the snow changed my whole perspective.

Prince Edward Island winterPhoto: Shutterstock

My first Prince Edward Island winter

My family—me, my wife and our four young children—fled Syria and came to Canada as refugees in December 2017. In Syria, I’d worked as a chef and a fitness trainer. My physical strength couldn’t save me from what I encountered when I arrived in Charlottetown, P.E.I.: I was scared of how cold it was! Going outside felt like a feat each time I did it. But I knew I had to get acclimated, so I went for walks.

We took our kids for strolls in the park, and along the Charlottetown harbour. I loved to watch the ice flow by on the water—a sight you never see in the Middle East. Walking also let me experience the stillness and quiet that descends after a snowfall. That was a new type of peacefulness and calm that I came to appreciate.

Making friends took some time. I never got into winter sports, but I did join an indoor soccer club with a friend, where I made new connections. I’m no longer scared of winter—the season offered my family a peaceful welcome at a time we needed it. 

Check out this funny story about one Canadian’s first Toronto winter.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest Canada