Writer's Block is a quarterly publication of Online English Stage 1-2. Funded by the Government of Saskatchewan.



Author: Kostiantyn B.
Level: 6
Instructor: Zareen R.

Driving is one of the most important skills that we learn in our lives. The modern world dictates new rules and the ability to drive is one of them. When you are child, it is impressive to see adults driving cars and other vehicles and you dream to learn to drive someday.

In my home country, you can go to some special driving schools to learn how to drive and eventually to get your driver’s license. Usually people in my home country are already familiar with driving; all they need is a license. It seems like in Canada there are two ways of getting your driving license. One is through a driving school, where specialized instructors will tell you how to operate a vehicle or the other way where your parents teach you to drive. However, before all that, you must pass a written test to learn driving rules and regulations.

As for me, I did it a little different! I learned to drive a motorcycle very early in my life and that made it easier for me to learn driving. In my home country, 99% of cars had manual transmission, so you had to know how to shift gears using clutch and how not to choke the motor. Since I knew these concepts, driving was very easy for me.

My father never taught me how to drive. I do not know why but it was easy for me. I was twelve or thirteen and I used to go take my father's car to go out with friends when my parents were not at home. The most difficult part was to back it up at the same spot as it was before, so I had to learn backing up as well. Now, I am almost 33 and I just told this story to my father not too long ago. We just had a good laugh but really, it made me realize that if you do not think something is difficult and just try it, it becomes easy and before you know it, you have mastered it! I believe this is how I mastered my driving.


Sports and Leisure Activities

Author: Ich Vi Q.
Level: 5
Instructor: Tanya B.

When we mention sports, it is usually related to personal favourites, health or even the weather of your current country. Luckily, I was born in Vietnam - the temperature is always around 30 to 36 degrees Celsius. I love swimming - swimming has helped me much more than other sports to relax, balance and enjoy my country. Since I moved to Canada in 2015, I totally changed my favourite sport because of the weather here.

In Canada, there are four seasons in a year but during the winter it snows and this makes this season seem much longer than the others. It almost feels like it starts from the last day of October to the middle of April. In the first winter of Canada, I made up my mind. I had to change my favourite sport here and I researched the most popular sports for winter time in this country and one of them is called cross-country skiing.

I met and talked to my friend who was born in Canada. Fortunately, he was willing to introduce me to the sport and he taught me how to ski on his farm. I liked it and it's so amazing! Can you believe that my sweat woke my body up in the winter time and I'm feeling so good after all? And I convinced myself, I will keep on this sport.



5 Books That Will Transform Your Mind

Author: Anna P.
Level: 7
Instructor: Nodira I.

Nowadays, it is necessary to regularly replenish our knowledge, and make efforts for self-development. And, of course, the best helpers in this are books. I find books as a perfect psychologist, they give you an idea to think about, they listen to your thoughts and they expand the horizons of your thinking whether you want it to or not.

I want to share my selection of the best 5 books that will transform you as a person and will help to make the long-awaited step forward to improve the quality of your life for better.

  1. “The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari”, Robin Sharma

“Investing in yourself is the best investment you will ever make. It will not only improve your life; it will improve the lives of all those around you.”

“The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari” is a fiction, which is very easy to read. But even if it is fictional, this book can teach wisdom. If you still think that you can achieve happiness only after getting all the titles and money of the world, this tale shows how wrong you are. The book was written by Robin Sharma, a Canadian author, in 1999.

  1. “Think and Grow Rich”, Napoleon Hill

“You are the master of your destiny. You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life what you want it to be.”

To be short, the book shows how to achieve financial success in life. But, in addition, it is a collection of practical tips for achieving success in absolutely any field. The author offers a unique philosophy, which is built on seven pillars: self-hypnosis, knowledge, imagination, work and success, perseverance, subconsciousness, fear. In his opinion, these are the basic principles of good luck and wealth. I promise, you will read it in one breath. The book is a ‘must read’ for those who are in search of themselves and their destiny.

  1. “How to Win Friends and Influence People?”, Dale Carnegie

The pieces of advice given in the book are useful and can be used by people of any age, profession and status. The main idea here is how to be a likable, persuasive, and influential leader, which is, I am sure, many of us strive to be today. The main lessons I`ve defined out of this book are: encourage people to talk about themselves; praise others' achievements; acknowledge personal own mistakes; and be friendly. There are many more insights you can find which suit your personality and life situation.

  1. “Never Eat Alone”, Keith Ferrazzi

“Who you know determines who you are—how you feel, how you act, and what you achieve.”

Honestly, this book has changed my life. Communication is everything! The author of this book, Kate Ferrazzi, one of the most sociable people in the world according to Forbes, shares the secrets of building a wide network of mutually beneficial connections in business and beyond. Following his advice, you not only realize your ambitions and abilities and help someone to do the same but also, undoubtedly, decorate your life with communication with interesting interlocutors.

This book can change your life too. Read it and you will never be the same.

  1. “Hell Week”, Erik Bertrand Larsen

I believe that actions made forward to your fears can absolutely transform your mind. Did I have this belief all my life? No, I didn`t. The main insight which I got after reading “Hell Week” was that our potential has no frames: if you have a schedule and are not afraid of doing things, it does not matter whether your plans will thrive or fail. If you adhere to it, the exercise promises to boost your professional and personal success.

That is my short list of self-help books. If you start reading even one of them, I am sure it would be difficult to stop because they do change your mind, your environment, and your life. Enjoy bookworm time!



Living in Spain

Author: Ingrid R.
Level: 6
Instructor: Adrienne R.

I would like to tell you about when I went to Spain with hopes to find a good opportunity and future for my family also.

I worked in home care with two grandmothers but sadly one of them passed away when I was caring for her. The second grandmother was nice woman, their families were wonderful to me.

I had been there for 5 months when I decided to bring my family to Spain but unfortunately the Spanish Immigration department decided to send them back to Honduras. After this I had my heart broken, I was depressed, disappointed and discouraged, just thinking about going back to Honduras with my family.

Finally after 11 months of living in Spain, I came back to my country. I felt proud of myself because I gained courage living by myself to survive and keep going forward. I kept going even with the bad luck that we had. Then a few months later, my husband got this opportunity to come to Canada, We had one more chance to build a good future for my kids but sadly, he didn't wait for his family.

In conclusion,  I just need to say, apart from the rough life that we had,  I am thankful  to God for giving us this amazing reward, of my kid’s future and  I say thanks to Canada for trusting in us and giving us safe lives.


My Life before Canada

Author: Ayan M.
Level: 5
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit:

I was born in Somalia.  I lived there until I was 9 years old.  There was a civil war there.  It wasn’t safe to live there.  There were no schools left.  We had to leave, and we got on a truck with a lot of people and no luggage.  We drove for 49 days to the border of Kenya. At night we camped on the ground, and slept on the ground.  Other people gave us food and we all cooked together. We all shared what we had. All the kids were sick from the water. Some people almost died. There was food from the United States for us at the border. They gave us tents. After two months they supplied us a house.

In 1992, during my first 3 months at the refugee camp we got water from huge tanker trucks which was filled up in city. They drove an hour and a half to the desert camp and people sometimes would line up for three days to get their water from the truck. Then the UNCR put in water taps, one in every 10 families received them. The refugee camp got food from UNCR to give out every month, it came by trucks and was stored in a big central building.

Finally we got the message that we were coming to Canada.  We were so thankful for this.


Why I Came to Canada

Author: Nataliia S.
Level: 5
Instructor: Natalie R.

I worked in the Ukraine as an entrepreneur before I moved to Canada. I was doing logistic service in Ukraine and Poland. I developed this job on my own. At first, it was hard work but it was very interesting so I kept trying. My job was to find the customers who have the cargo and the carriers who were to deliver this cargo. Most of the responsibility was on me. I had to control the cargo from the time of loading to the time of unloading. If some cargo were to be sent to another country, for example, in Poland, then I had to work on customs documents. I had to always be able to be in touch and I didn't have any free weekends. I worked in this position for 5 years and got a lot of experience. Unfortunately, there is a big competition in Ukraine. Over time, those customers began to find carriers themselves, without intermediaries, and my business began to disappear. So, we started looking for other opportunities and as a result we are in Canada. Now, I live in Saskatchewan and have a great job as an educational assistant (EA). I am really happy to be here, even if I now work in a different field.



Bengali Culture: Pohela Boishakh

Author: MD Muklesur R.
Level: 7
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit: Moheen Reeyad / CC BY-SA 4.0

The cultures of Bangladesh are influenced by different religion like Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Christianity. So, the common festivals and celebrations by all religions are Pohela Boishakh, and Language day.

Pohela Boishakh is the first day of the Bengali calendar. It is usually celebrated on April 14th every year. On this day, the home is thoroughly scrubbed and cleaned; people bathe early in the morning and dress in nice clothes. They spend the day visiting relatives, friends, and neighbors and going to the fair. Many stalls are temporarily set up in cities and towns for selling various agricultural products, traditional handicrafts, toys, cosmetics, and foods. Rural people celebrate with horse races, bull races, bull-fights, cock-fights, flying pigeons, boat races and give out prizes.  

A  big,  colourful New Year's festival takes place in Dhaka and is arranged by the Faculty of Fine Arts,  at the University of Dhaka. Newspapers advertise this. There are also special programmes on radio and television. Before this big day, special discounts on clothes, furniture, electronics, and various deals and shopping discounts are available. A special line of sarees, usually cotton, white sarees with red print and embroidery is sold before this day because everyone likes to dress up. Jasmine and marigold flowers are worn in women's hair.

In Regina, International Mother’s Language day is celebrated with other communities’ people. We celebrate Pohela Boishakh within our community people in Regina, Saskatchewan. Before April 14th, we divide our community of people up and decide what each family will make and wear on that day. Men usually wear colourful Panjabi and pajamas and women wear sarees with red print or colorful kamiz. My family of 5 meets up with others and altogether there are 18 people in my house.  We make Bengali foods and sweets (thirty items) and we dress up. We share foods and memories with each other and the children play with their friends.


Father's Day

Author: Raul P.
Level: 4
Instructor: Jacqueline A.

Father’s Day in Canada is celebrated on the same day, the 3rd Sunday in June, as in Mexico. The whole family meets at the parents’ home, celebrating with barbecue, beer, wine, tequila, cake, presents and listening to music. 

Sometimes this celebration starts on Saturday and finishes on Sunday, but here in Canada this holiday starts and stops on the same day. We celebrate with our family, and have a barbecue or dinner together. Sometimes we bring a present for our fathers.

Father’s Day in Canada is very nice and people spend time with their family, but in Mexico it is more exciting and energetic, so on Father’s Day I am missing Mexico. 


Ukrainian Wedding Traditions

Author: Svitlana A.
Level: 5
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit:

My wedding took place in spring 2008. I observed some traditions of the Ukrainian wedding. My wedding took place in spring, when nature comes to life, after the Great Easter Fast, when, according to religious rules, all kinds of celebrations are not allowed.

We had a matchmaking. This means that the relatives of my husband came to meet with my family and arrange a wedding. In case of refusal, I could give a pumpkin to them or give them the bench hammers embroidered with Ukrainian ornament.  Parents traditionally had to set a table with food and treat guests.

Then there was an engagement and I came with my family to his house. There we were also treated and we discussed the wedding conditions, the number of guests, the restaurant and the approximate menu.

On the wedding day, Dmytro came to my house, but he was able to see me after he played several funny games that the bridesmaids came up with for him. Then we went to register our marriage, then had a photo session and went to a restaurant. In the restaurant we were met by guests. There were a lot of different dishes. By tradition, we broke a cow (sweet bread) and sold it for a symbolic sum to all guests. Then at the end of the wedding, my husband took off his veil and wrapped a kerchief around me. It symbolized the end of the celebration.


Ukrainian Holiday Traditions

Author: Snizhana K.
Level: 6
Instructor: Nicola G.
Photo Credit: George Hodan / Public Domain

I have been living in Canada with my family for 18 years. We moved here from Ukraine. I have two children, my youngest was born in Canada. We still keep all our traditions and celebrations.
I hope our children will keep doing that even when they have their own families. Our two favorite holidays are Easter and Christmas and I would like to share with you some of our traditions.

On Good Friday we go to church, we bring home blessed pussy willow branches. The tapping of friends with pussy willow is a wish for good health, wealth and happiness and we say: “Be as big as the willow, healthy as water, rich as earth.” On the Easter morning we prepare baskets with food and take it to church to bless. The main two items in the basket are special bread called Paska and coloured eggs Pusanku, we also put sausage, cheese, tomatoes and more. After food is blessed, we come home and eat. Food tastes so good after the forty days of lent.

Christmas is the most wonderful holiday for everyone in the world. Who doesn’t like the spirit of holiday, presents, food, drinks, and visits with family and friends? Our Ukrainian Christmas is on January 7th and the night before is our Sviata Vechera that in English is Christmas Eve. Under the table cloth on the corners of the table we put some hay and garlic. Some people decorate the dinner table with sheaf of wheat, we call it Didukh, which represents the importance of rich wheat crops in our country. Our traditional supper includes twelve meatless dishes, perogies made with sauerkraut or potatoes or cherries, fish, mushrooms, dry fruit, pampushky or doughnuts, beans, kolach a special bread. The main dish on the table is Kutia. It looks like a soup made of boiled wheat berries mixed with honey or sugar, nuts and poppy seeds.

Keeping traditions alive is very important for teaching the next generation about our past.



Distance Education

Author: Viktor Y.
Level: 6
Instructor: Carmen I.

I think distance education is a modern and easy way to study. People can work and after that study and get more knowledge. Home is always a comfortable space for a person to learn.

Nowadays, with new technology, you can listen to a teacher the same way as in the lecture auditorium by using the internet. Speaking one on one with a teacher helps you get more attention and information.

I think distance education is the future way to study because it's easy and you do not need to leave your home for a long period.



Being a Parent

Author: Irene R.
Level: 6
Instructor: Jacqueline A.

“It is not what you do for your children, but what you have taught them to do for themselves, that will make them successful human beings.” -Ann Landers

Being a parent is one of the best things to have happened in my life. I have three wonderful children that always remind me of how blessed I am. Raising children is not easy, there will be times when your child is doing well and times when your child is really struggling. As a mother, there are lots of things to learn about how to raise my kids.  When I got pregnant with my first daughter, my husband and I were so excited. Then, after 4 years I had another baby girl. We are so happy to have both of them. After six years we were blessed with another baby. But this time was a baby boy! My daughters were so happy and excited during my pregnancy and when my son was born. Now they’re always playing and reading books. But sometimes they're also fighting each other. That is part of being a kid. That’s why my husband and I always remind them and give them advice. 


My Children

Author: Nhung L.
Level: 5
Instructor: Adrienne R.
Photo Credit: Tatiana Kostareva / 123RF Stock Photo

I am Nhung, I come from Vietnam.There are four people in my family. The most important people in my life are my son and my daughter. They are very lovely. I spent a long time looking after my children alone in VietNam. We had so many memories  of when we lived together there.

Before my husbund came to live in Canada, he often went to study some short courses in some other countries, so there were just three people in my family. After my husband came to Canada to study, I looked after my kids for over three years by myself. That time was hard for us but it was very interesting. Every morning, after we woke up at 6 am, I prepared some foods for our breakfast, cleaned my house and drove my children to school by motorcycle before 7 am. After I dropped my kids off at two places to study, I hurried up to go to my office to teach my students who were waiting for me in there. After school at 4:30 pm, I picked up the kids and took good care  of them. I washed their hair, showered them, cooked and fed them and then I cleaned my house. After that, I took care of myself. When I was cooking, they played together. When every thing was done, we went to bed. I layed between them and sang some songs, told some stories or talked about some issues.

Sometimes, we went out and hung out at some places for children or went to enjoy some food. I took good care of my daughter’ s hair; it was very long, smooth and shiny. I liked to comb it for her every day after school. That was the hardest time in my life after I married but it was also the most wonderful with us in Vietnam.

Today, my childen are older than  at that time. My daughter is 10 years old, my son is 7 years old. They love me so much. They often wait for me to come home to hug them before sleeping when I come home late from work.

They are the most important people in my life.



How to Get Fit and Fabulous Within One Week

Author: Inna S.
Level: 8
Instructor: Nodira I.

All women spend different amount of time to take care of themselves. However all of them want to stay beautiful throughout the whole year. Here I want to share my tips on how to establish your good-looking habits and how to achieve your goals.

Tip#1. Monday: Exercising

We need to exercise every day. So, now we do cardio every day for 30 minutes. It can be running, jumping, and other vigorous exercises. Then we do full body workout. Do 15-20 reps, 3-5 circuits and take 1-minute rest between the circuits.

Tip#2. Tuesday: Healthy Food

We should eat clean and healthy. Everybody knows that to stay strong, feel good and be full of energy we need to eat well and control what we eat. So, now we eat healthy during whole week and have cheat meal once per week or once per 2 weeks.

Tip#3. Wednesday. Water Control.

Our body consists of about 72% water, and water is vitally necessary for every important bodily function. Now we drink 8 glasses of water and keep ourselves hydrated during the whole day.

Tip#4. Thursday:  Skin care

Everybody has a different type of skin. So, we should figure out what kind of skin we have, and then find the system which works best for exactly our type of skin and follow it through.

Tip#5. Friday: Nails care

We use moisturizers for our hands, care for our cuticles, avoid using harsh polish, choose a good remover and make a natural nail-straightening treatment.

Tip#6. Saturday: Hair care

We wash hair when it is necessary; avoid washing hair with hot water, and use a comb when hair is wet. Let your hair air dry and trim it regularly.

Tip#7. Sunday: Relax day

We take time to enjoy a bath, kick back and relax with ex-foliation and a mask, use some aroma candles and pamper yourself with some massage afterwards. Then we make sleep a priority and get ready for the next week.

Good luck to everybody!



"Golubtsi": Ukrainian Cabbage Rolls

Author: Albina S.
Level: 3
Instructor: Nodira I.
Photo Credit: Loyna / CC BY-SA 2.5


1 head of cabbage
500 g ground meat (pork or beef)
200 g rice
1 onion
1 tbsp. vegetable oil
salt and pepper 

First, rinse white rice and cook in 2 cups of water with 1/2 teaspoon salt. Cover and simmer it for about 20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.

Second, fill 2/3 of large soup pot with water. Bring to a boil. Add 1/2 table-spoon salt.

After that, peel and discard the top of leaves from cabbage. Use a knife to cut out the core of cabbage. Put the cabbage in water, cork down, for about 5 minutes, then rotate and continue cooking for another 5-6 minutes. You will pull of its leaves as they begin to soften. Remove the leaves to cool when they are done.

Then, chop some onion. Preheat frying pan, grease with vegetable oil. Put the onion there and fry for 4 to 5 minutes. Next, mix ground meat, boiled rice and fried onion together in a large bowl. Add spices to your taste. Finally, place filling in the centre of a cabbage leaf and roll it over the filling. When the roll is ready, tuck in the open ends of the leaf inside of the cabbage roll.

Ingredients for the sauce:

tomato paste
vegetable oil
salt and pepper
sugar to taste

First, chop some onion and carrot. Next, preheat a frying pan and grease it with vegetable oil. Fry chopped onion for 3 – 4 minutes. Add chopped carrot and fry for another 3 to 4 minutes.

After that, put in 2 cups of water 3 tbsp tomato paste. Add salt, pepper and sugar to your taste.  Stew for 5 minutes.

Then, put a couple of leaves on the bottom of a saucepan. Place golubtsi seam-side down. Add sauce. Sauce should cover cabbage rolls. Finally, cook over low heat for 40 to 50 minutes.

When the cabbage rolls are ready, you can serve them with sour cream.


Steamed Cake

Author: Li Hua T.
Level: 5
Instructor: Natalie R.
Photo Credit: Blenpeams / CC BY-SA 3.0

Here is a recipe for traditional steamed cake from China. It is different than most cakes you find in Canada. The most interesting part is that we steam it instead of baking it. In China, we like to steam a lot of our food, especially vegetables. I thought it would be fun to share the idea of steaming cake because this is not usual in Canada. It is very useful if you do not have an oven. I hope you will enjoy it.


  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp baking power
  • ½ tsp baking soda


  1. Beat sugar and oil with a flat beater until that is mixed well
  2. Mix flour, baking power and soda together
  3. Add the eggs one by one, then add milk to the batter
  4. Use the beater and beat for about 1 min
  5. Pour in the baking pan
  6. Let it settle in the pan for around 1 min before you put it in the water.
  7. Put the baking pan in a larger pot of about 1-2 inched of boiling water. Put the lid over it and let it steam for about 25 minutes. Be careful when opening the lid because the steam can rush out and burn you.


  • After you are done you can sprinkle sesame seeds on top.
  • Serve with ice cream for a fun treat.
  • Try using some cream cheese in the recipe for a creamier taste.
  • Always use gloves and be careful around the steam.



Finding a New Home

Author: Kyungmin I.
CLB level: 7
Instructor: Ashley J.

The concept of settling down in Canada might bring a variety of emotions in positive and negative ways for immigrants. I have been in Canada for three years, so far, and it means I am still very new to Canada, but I would like to think of the meaning of settling down in Canada and share my own experiences. Housing, finding work, and applying for proper visa status are the most important aspects for newcomers, probably for at least a few years.

For people who intend to stay in a country to live for a long period of time, the first thing required of them is to look for a place to live. This is an essential step for most everyone, however, it may not be easy, initially, to find a place that feels like home on the first attempt. Typically, the reason for this is that it takes time to get to know the different areas or neighbourhoods, and even though you may have successfully found a place, it might be difficult for it to feel like “home” the first time. As a result, people move quite a bit for the first five to ten years. In my case, I started with a room temporarily for two weeks so that I would have a place to sleep as soon as I arrived at the airport in Regina, Saskatchewan. This was my very first home in Canada and the chance to start over. While I was staying there, I looked for other rooms to rent, and I made a concerted effort to find just the right spot for me. It was good to know that some areas, like downtown, are not safe to live. One year after this move, I relocated to an apartment closer to my work. I love my small but cozy apartment, but I know that this place is not my final home. I am still looking for a place to live and to settle down.

The second important thing to consider as a newcomer to Canada would be finding a job. A job pays the rent, bills and food. It may be commonplace for anyone who lives in Canada, but for immigrants searching for jobs may very well be a different story: career change or evaluating one’s credentials from schooling. Some people were doctors, dentists, lawyers or teachers in their home countries, but they might have to find other jobs to live in Canada. Qualifications vary in each country, so the degrees they achieved in their countries might not be acceptable in other countries like Canada. In my case, I was a teacher back home, and luckily, I was able to work with children as an early childhood educator in Canada. Once you have a job, it becomes that much easier and faster to settle down.

Everyone has their own reasons to come to Canada. Some visited or studied in Canada and it felt like a great place to settle down. Some come to Canada because of family or some may be refugees. Everyone has a different story and a different visa status. Some people come with permanent residency, some come with a study or work permit and change it while living here. Those permits are not just papers. They are immensely important to be able to live in this country legally. Eventually, people manage to secure permanent residency or citizenship as they live in Canada much longer than anticipated. I travelled to Canada for three months in 2014, and that is when I fell in love with this country.   I came back to Canada one and a half years later with a work permit and that’s exactly how my journey started. I am now fortunate to have become a permanent resident in Canada.

People who leave their countries and settle down in a new country are undeniably brave and confident. They have had to overcome insurmountable obstacles from A to Z to find a new home and more importantly, I personally have grown up in the process of doing it the Canadian way! They enjoy challenges and they have no problem starting over. Furthermore, the immigrants know how to be thankful for what they have been given and to be grateful about life. When I look back sometimes, it feels like a miracle that I even live here now. Originally, I had known no one, but I met several new people. I found a new job, and I am working in my field indirectly. I am also speaking a different language, and things eventually worked out just like that. It has been a new adventure to settle down in Canada for me, and it continues to be so! I would like to applaud all the newcomers and to say that it is worth the journey. Don’t ever give up! You are the new champions in a new land!


Social life in Canada

Author: Xiuzhuan M.
Level: 6
Instructor: Jacqueline A.
Photo Credit: dolgachov / 123RF Stock Photo

Different cultures develop differentiated social lifestyles.  In Confucius societies, the family value is highly prized so that the social life centers on kinship. People are connected by the ties of blood, and then, help each other when someone is in need and they often get together to maintain their close relations at some festivals or on the weekend. In a religious culture, the social life is mainly based on the same religion. People meet weekly at church, they live in the vicinity and constitute a community. Now, I will share my observations of social life in Canada over the past two years.

The first observation is the key role of church in the social life in Canada. Religion is the tie to connect individuals and the church is the venue for people to meet regularly. Church can be regarded as a school, a mutual assistance portal, a party and a place for psychological counselling. First, church provides social opportunities and education for people.  In a church, different people can join different programs to learn more about what they are interested in.  For example, little kids study to read, working people study to balance work and life, the seniors study new technology to keep up with the pace of development, etc.  Second, church is a kind of mutual help center for communities. Some people can get free food and clothes in church. Some others donate food, clothes and money to church. Third, church is a party place, used for weddings, festivals and for making friends. Newcomers will get the chance to know other people and make friends through the activities held by the church. Fourth, sometimes church is a place for psychological counselling. When someone is suffering, he/she can ask pastors to pray for him/her or talk in a group which is composed by other persons having similar problems. For example, a new widow can join the widow group in church to survive her hard times. And sometimes, church has programs for anxiety or depression sufferers, like group therapy.

The second observation is volunteer activities. In Canada, people are willing to be volunteers to contribute themselves to communities and society. There are many kinds of volunteer programs, such as volunteer in church, hospital, and some others. It is an important way to integrate into society and to increase your life value. I have been a volunteer in our community association for 2 years and will be a volunteer in the church this summer.

The third is that there are many kinds of groups to meet at regular intervals to share knowledge and experiences. Most of these are free. I love these kinds of groups because they give people opportunities to learn from each other in the same interesting area. I think they are the ways of knowledge passing and brainstorming.

The above are my three main observations of social life in Canada.  I believe I will know more new social life in Canada when I have lived here longer. I love the social life here.


The Lac La Croix Pony

Author: Roksolana D.
Level: 4
Instructor: Mona B.
Photo Credit: Llcips09 / CC BY-SA 3.0

Usually in the mornings, our staff room at work is filled with the strong smell of coffee and toast and with the laughter and loud conversations which I, as the only one immigrant there, cannot always understand.

About a month ago, one of my co-workers brought a tray to work with different homemade items, such as soaps, candles, jewelry, and decorations to sell.  After that, our staff room was filled with a completely different scent and something changed for me.

I came to Canada from a country with a rich history which started around the 9th to 13th centuries.  Our history and culture is an incredibly tasty cocktail made from mysterious legends, fabulous songs, heroic personalities, and vast traditions that are further enriched in every important event in people’s lives.  There are thousands of old, beautiful buildings and hundreds of stunning castles, monuments, and amazing churches that have been built in many beautiful types of architectural styles, including Gothic, Baroque, and Renaissance styles.  Every historical building has an enigmatic story behind it.

My life after immigrating here has been filled with driving long distances, doughnuts, hockey, winter, Netflix, swimming pools, joy, happiness, fear, disappointment, anxiety, challenges, new inner qualities, strengths, and so many more things and feelings which I, as a regular human being, cannot always understand or explain.

I’m only certain about one thing: I’m always seeking ingredients for my special cocktail of life to make it taste as good as it can be when I mix in two completely different worlds.  Beautiful places and stories about things around me make everything more meaningful, make me feel more at home.

As every historical building in my home country has a story behind itself, the tray with goodies in the staff room has a story behind it as well.  My co-worker, who is from the First Nations community, takes care of 9 ponies. By selling these goodies, he is trying to raise money to improve the conditions for the ponies.

He told me a story about the Lac La Croix Indigenous ponies, which is the only breed of horse developed by Indigenous people in Canada that still exists.  As such, these ponies are now rare.  Some people believe that they were created some time in the 19th century as a result of crossbreeding the Canadian Horse and the Spanish Mustang.  They ran free mainly in the forests of northwestern Ontario and northern Minnesota.  The horses usually lived side-by-side with the Ojibwa people and shared their land.

During the 1940s, there were thousands of ponies that ran free like deer in the wilderness.  At some point, missionaries visited the reservation and felt very strongly that children should not be allowed to see the horses breeding.  This belief caused them to destroy the herd and send them to the meatpacking plant.  This is when they became extinct in the United States.  At this point, there were only 4 of these ponies left living on the island of Lac La Croix in Canada.  Then, one of the members of the First Nations community decided to, with some help, obtain these 4 remaining horses and start breeding them until they eventually had a small herd again. 

The Lac La Croix pony doesn’t live in the wild anymore.  It now survives in safe places in parts of Canada and the United States.

Currently, this breed of pony is used in water-related therapy, learning and tourism.  This is done to help young people become connected again with their Indigenous heritage.  Training and caring for horses helps these young people find out more about their community’s traditions and experiences while, at the same time, increasing their self-esteem and strength.

Learning this story from my co-worker amazed me and allowed me to add another heartwarming story to special cocktail of life.


Why I Like Living in Canada

Author: Liping J.
Level: 5
Instructor: Mona B.

I like living in Canada because it is a diverse country. I think most people would say that. The landscape is beautiful and people can live high quality lives. Life is easier here than in many other countries. We have a lot of benefits and Canada is safe compared to many other places. I have so many other reasons I love living in Canada. For example, most people are friendly and respectful, the pace of life is slower here than in my home country, the air pollution index is lower, and food safety regulations are enforced more than in my home country. I also like living in Canada because of the equality between men and women. Before I came to Canada, all I knew was that this country was huge and located next to the United States but, since moving here, I have learned so much more about this beautiful country! I love this country because it's big but less populated than my home country. I am trying to encourage my friend to visit Canada so she can see how beautiful it is too! In my homeland, there are too many people and cars now. Also, the air is not fresh and the summers are very hot. Canada is a great country to live in and I'm so thankful to be living here.



Online Shopping

Author: Yujene O.
Level: 6
Instructor: Mona B.

Most people relieve their stress by doing things such as eating foods going fishing, and talking with friends.  For me, that stress relief is shopping.  I used to go shopping after I had completed my final essay at school or finished a big project.

When I was in university, online shopping became popular.  Even though sometimes people fail to get what they want or the products they buy online end up being different than they imagined, the online market is getting bigger and bigger due to its convenience.  People are able to purchase things online and save time.

The Korean online market is especially huge.  The quality of products online is great, the prices are very reasonable, and the delivery system is wonderful!  In Korea, items are delivered within 2 days, and sometimes, if you’re lucky, even on the same day!  People in Korea order a lot of food online as well.  The great thing is that the delivery fee is only 2 dollars.

I am not a very nostalgic person, but I definitely miss the Korean online market of Korea.  The products you can order online in Korea are very different from the ones you can buy online in Canada.  However, I still order online here in Canada.  Shopping and receiving that parcel with all its wonderful items is still one of the best ways I am able to relieve my stress!


Shopping for Food

Author: Furong Z.
Level: 6
Instructor: Mona B.

I live in a small town surrounded by forests.  The beautiful view, fresh air, quiet environment and kind people make me feel comfortable.  There is only one thing that bothers me: the lack of Asian food.  Only a few Asian people live in my town, so it is difficult for me to find Asian food in the grocery stores.  Fortunately, last month when I was surfing online, I discovered that Regina’s Asian Market had a branch in Prince Albert.  I was so excited to learn of this because Prince Albert is much closer than Regina!  Even though I must drive two and a half hours to Prince Albert, I can still finish my shopping in less than a day.  Upon discovering this great news, I phoned the manager of the Prince Albert branch and asked if they had the food items I wanted in stock.  They told me that they could prepare all my food in just one week. Imagine my delight!  I was so happy to receive my dream food!

Obtaining Asian food has not been easy.  After all my attempts of trying to find Asian food online, I was unable to find any Asian Food Markets who were set up online until now.  I face the same difficulties shopping for Asian food in my hometown.  With the development of the Internet, online shopping has become the most convenient way to shop.  More and more people choose shopping online instead of shopping in a mall because it’s more convenient and economical.  You can buy almost anything you want from the Internet. You just have to place an order on your phone, tablet or computer and then wait for somebody to send the goods to your home!  People no longer worry about having to search for a parking spot when they drive to the mall.  It saves a lot on gas also when having to travel downtown.  Online shopping not only saves money, time and energy but also reduces air pollution.

Comparing shopping in Saskatchewan and in my hometown, Saskatchewan’s shopping mall is smaller than my hometown’s but there is much more space for parking and the shops are quieter and less crowded.  Shopping in my homeland is crowded but there is an abundance of goods and it’s easy to buy everything in one place.  I think I will get used to shopping in Saskatchewan soon!



Author: Binh H.
Level: 4
Instructor: Mona B.

I love shopping!  Since coming to Canada, I really enjoy online shopping because there are so many beautiful items online to choose from and it’s really convenient, especially since I live in a small town and I have to drive far to go to the mall. 

I enjoy looking at jewelry, clothes and handbags online but my favourite purchase is definitely clothing!  I love shopping for clothes when I drive into the city. 

Shopping in my home country, Vietnam, is much cheaper than shopping in Canada.  When I lived in Vietnam I was able to buy gold and plastic ware because the prices were so good!

Does shopping make you as happy as it makes me?   



Journey to the Dominican Republic

Author: Iryna I.
Level: 6
Instructor: Lindita Turani

I adore travelling. Before you see something new there is nothing to compare it with. A good mood settles inside you when you buy the tickets. And how much joy does it take to pack a suitcase? You can spend the whole day picking up different outfits, throwing something out of fashion, and then going shopping and buying new things. You just want to jump like in your childhood and clap your hands with joy.

And here we are on the plane. Time does not stretch quickly; I want to arrive at the destination more quickly. And finally, we leave the airport and the warm moist air dabs the whole body. We pull off warm socks, jump into slaps and go forward. Passing through customs, you can see people with happy faces waiting for a getaway. For yourself, you note how different people are, and how beautiful everything is in its own way. And now as we are sitting hand in hand on the bus to go to the hotel, everyone is looking out the window to check local sights.Once we get there, employees help the guests with luggage. I immediately noticed a huge beautiful Christmas tree right in the center of the hall, like a beauty dressed up in a tropical style and amazed with her charm. We quickly settled, jumped into light dresses and ran to explore the reserve. The road was not close and we were pretty hungry and dreamed about food and drinks. It turned out that dinner was another 2 hours, so we decided to drink a little. Having carefully studied the menu with cocktails, we chose a couple of drinks; the warm tropical liquid pleasantly warmed the whole body and it became more fun. The bar was located right by the pool in the middle of which three huge palm trees towered. Time during dinner was not noticeable, filling the stomach with delicious dishes just before watching the evening show.  Then a stranger with a wide white smile asked me and my friend if we wanted to sing karaoke. Delicious cocktails have added courage and now we were on stage singing in Russian in front of a huge hall. It is great when moments like this happen in your life reminding you of smiles that bring and this is one of them. And how many of these moments will you decide not to forget?