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


My Life Story

Author: Liping J.
Level: 4
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

My name is Liping. In my family, there are 5 of us altogether, me, my husband and our three
beautiful kids. I have two girls and a boy. My kids were born in Canada but grew up in China. Let me tell you a story about my life. In China I was a salesgirl and I worked in a factory too. In the factory, the employees worked on a piece-rate pay system, which means that the worker is paid per unit of creation.  I was slow but not lazy.

I also worked in a store for a long time because I loved talking with all different types of peoples and I didn't have to work on a piece-rate pay system, which was much better for me.  The salesgirls always needed to be in a good mood and have a nice smile. I also enjoyed my time after work was done.  I often had dinner and a chat with my colleagues at the bar after work. It was a very exciting time in my life.

On June 12th, 2011, I came to Canada. At that time, my life changed a lot because Canada was a whole new country for me. The biggest challenge I faced was language. We live in a small town so I need to speak English every day but, when I first moved here, my English was not good.

We work in our family restaurant every day so I need to be able to talk with customers in English. At first, I didn't know how to explain what I wanted to say. I felt sad. Then, one day, my sister-in-law who lives back home visited us. She told me I could sign up for online learning and study English at home. I was so excited. Since I started learning English online, my listening and conversation skills have improved a lot. Now I can make small talk with the customers, answer the phone, read a short letter and write short paragraphs.  I am proud that I can chat with people. I am glad that I am still learning English and that now I can understand what people are talking about. 

Now I don't just have only Chinese friends. I also have Canadian friends, which includes people from many different countries. When we have free time after Covid we are planning on having a party. I hope my life story has inspired you to keep learning and never give up!



How did I get the idea for coming to Canada?

Author: Hatim M.
Level: 5
Instructor: Kara M.
Photo Credit:

canada flag with sun shining through

Coming to Canada was necessary for me and my family. Even after I worked for LG and DHL and had my own business that wasn't enough to have a better life and to be independent. In the meantime, I was married with two kids, so when I asked about school and hospital, the prices were very high for my modest income, so I tried to find a solution. When my second baby came, I tried to find a new job back home, and for more than 9 months I sent my resume to more than five hundred companies and still no interviews.

One day, I got an idea to change my resume for a fast food industry in Canada, and for my first mail I received an answer and I got my first interview. My interlocutor assured me that if he likes my profile he can bring me to Canada with a work permit. It wasn't a success with him but luckily for me that was such great news. That gave me more motivation and after 2 interviews I got a job here in Saskatchewan and that's what we call destiny.

Now I'm in Canada and my first feeling is I really like this country. All I need is to bring my family, and find a better job when I get my Permanent residency. I try every day to learn something and I try to be familiar with Canadian culture. I need to be grateful for this country who gave me a chance to have a better life.


A Trip in Canada

Author: Wei W.
Level: 6
Instructor: Jacqueline A.
Photo Credit: Brian Lasenby / 123RF Stock Photo

Overlooking a lake surrounded by brilliant fall foliage - Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

It was the first year that I immigrated in Canada in 2019. In autumn, I had a journey with my family through this "maple leaf country". We chose Ontario as our destination.

After leaving Toronto on the first day, we drove to Sault Ste. Marie. The road was lined with colorful trees: yellow and red maple trees, green pine trees as well as some unknown trees.  They were swinging in the wind under the glowing sunshine. We were astonished at the scenery we had seen. Then it took us nearly four hours to get to Agawa Canyon by train. Besides varied trees, there were occasionally some clear streams surrounded by a group of mountains. These colourful mountains lay between the blue sky and the lake. It was suddenly snowing as we were driving. After a moment, red leaves were covered by a thin layer of white snow. The train was moving slowly while the host broadcasted the history of Agawa Cayon. The train finally stopped, there were some waterfalls in front of us. The winding paths, the mountain covered with wonderful leaves and the blue sky created of a stunning autumn painting.

On the second day, we went to the famous Algonquin Park, which had more red and yellow leaves than in Agawa. Unluckily, it was drizzling. Some leaves were falling down which made our mood depressed. The beautiful Autumn would pass quickly and the long winter would come soon.

At last, we visited Niagara Falls, whose source is from the Niagara river in the United States. The original people were afraid of the Waterfall and there are a few fairy tales about this. Also, were were told about some tragic episodes of boating visitors. From the tower, it is so spectacular and I have never seen such a huge waterfall before; from the ferry in the river, the loud sound of water currency made us deaf. A couple of rainbows were formed as a result of the rising mist and the sunshine; crowds of seagulls were flying through them.

The journey gave us such a deep impression that we think we will go to other sites to experience the Canadian life in the following year. However, a world wide pandemic has impeded us from going far away. I miss the journey and I am eager to have a normal life.




Author: Maria F.
Level: 7
Instructor: Kara M.
Photo Credit: Marian Vejcik / 123RF Stock Photo

Twin sisters with face mask back at school during COVID-19 quarantine.

I think with Covid-19, there is a before and after in our lives, and obviously nothing will be same again. For example, for back to school, it will be very different, and maybe even the kids are scared just like the parents are. Many restrictions are coming out, and both the school staff and the kids will have to wear face masks and wash their hands constantly, practicing social distancing, etc.  With all this, the kids will not be able to freely enjoy going back to school, they will not be able to hug their friends, they will not able to share lunches, etc.

For all this, it is not uncommon for many parents to have chosen to keep their kids at home with home-school or taking classes online. We still don't know how many kids will go back to school this fall, but it sure won't be all.  I think this makes kids feel more insecure about going back to school.  But I think that both parents and school staff will do our best to keep our children returning to classes without stress or fear.

I feel afraid that my kids will go back to school soon, but I also understand that life goes on and I can't keep them at home forever.  Also, they need to go out, hang out with their friends and teachers, have a distraction and not be thinking about Covid-19 always.

Communication with our children will be important in this return to school, practice all the restrictions we now have and keep our children healthy mentally and emotionally. I believe this is the best and then obviously good health too.



Author: Reeta R.
Level: 7
Instructor: Kara M.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

sick woman with fever

Coronavirus disease is a very bad virus that started in China in December 2019. The world says Covid-19. Coronavirus is a large family of viruses. It has spread all over the world because people travelling to other countries. So many people are getting sick with this virus.

Coronavirus has some symptoms like cough, headache, sore throat and other general weakness. If people have those symptoms then they do not need to go see the doctors in the clinic. They have to call 811 because there are some special treatments. The person who got coronavirus needs to stay 14 days to isolate in one space and needs some special care. He or she does not need to go in the public or somewhere else.

Today everyone needs to take precautions like clean everything, wash hands after touching anything, sanitize hands, wear your mask, and do not shake hands with anyone. Be safe yourself and to others. 

School is starting September 8th. Kids were bored at home because they want to go school. We are very nervous and scared because who knows what happens next. Kids will play with each other and will stay all day in the school. We will see what the environment will be in the school then we will send our kids. I hope everyone will be safe.  


Doctor accused in COVID-19 outbreak

Author: Mireille G.
Level: 8
Instructor: Inara M.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

doctors office

Research source: https://www.cbc.ca/news 

Dr. Jean Robert Ngola is accused of being responsible for the Covid-19 outbreak in Campbellton, New Brunswick. This outbreak infected 41 people and killed 2 people. Dr. Ngola did not self isolate after a trip to Quebec. The day after his trip, he worked at the Campbellton's hospital and he met some of his patients at his office. On May 22nd, the Premier Hings accused him, without giving his name, to ignore the rules and to put people at risk. 

Now Dr. Ngola is summoned to attend provincial court on Oct 26th. He is accused of having violated the mandatory order, under the Emergency Measures Act, by traveling outside of New Brunswick and not self isolating. His lawyer, Etienne, said it is not a criminal charge under the Criminal Code of Canada, it is under Provincial Offenses Procedures Act. It results in a fine between 240$ and 10,200$. His lawyer thinks it is a political tactic to advantage Premier Hings who is going to election in September. His lawyer argued that the Premier racialized Dr. Ngola. Etienne also alleged Ngola's privacy failed because of someone in the government. Because of that Dr. Ngola was a victim of racist.

Ngola is suspended and can't work in New Brunswick. He had asked for an apology from the Premier. He had argued that he was not infected in Quebec. He said he was infected in New Brunswick. He is continuing to deny his responsibility. It is not important if he was or not infected in Quebec. The fact is he had not followed the rules of the province. His race is not important in this story. The result of not following the rules are the same whether you are a caucasian or not. There is a lesson for everyone: you need to follow the rules, if you do not, you will have to face the consequences. I hope Dr. Ngola will learn from his mistakes. 



Wedding Ceremony in Ghana

Author: Bertha A.
Level: 6
Instructor: Dragana B.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

mr and mrs signs on chairs

Ghanaian wedding ceremony is an important rite for all marriages. There are two types of marriage ceremonies. Those are Christian and non Christian marriages. Both start with an engagement ceremony.

Before a man and a woman decide to get married, both the man`s and the woman`s families come together to get to know each other well. At this ceremony, the rich culture of Ghanaians is displayed by the bride and the groom dressed like royals in a traditional brightly colored cloth called Kente and gold jewelry. At this moment the bride and the groom exchange gifts, such as gold , drinks , money, and expensive clothing . The groom provides the big part of these gifts, and for the Christians the groom adds Bible to the gifts. The dress code for this occasion is formal, and this ceremony can take about four to five hours, usually in the morning. We serve traditional foods such as  Fufu with goat soup and Jollof Rice with chicken and drinks. Music and dancing are also part of the proceedings at this time.

At this ceremony, the difference between Christian and the non Christian marriage is that Christians offer Christian prayers , whereas the non Christians pour out  libation to call on their ancestors. At the end of this stage the non Christians will then go to the Registrar General's office to register the marriage and the Christians will go to the church for a westernized weeding.
The last part is the honeymoon.


My Living experience in Canada compared to Brazil

Author: Lidiane P.
Level: 7
Instructor: Raghad (Rachel) A.
Photo Credit: Bram Janssens / 123RF Stock Photo

Canada flag with Brazil flag, 3D rendering

Have you ever heard anyone say that it is not possible to compare rich countries with poor countries? This text may show you that yes, sometimes it is possible to compare countries which have a different economic situation. To be an immigrant is like having two lives, your life before moving abroad and after.

I was born in Brazil, my family did not have money, however they gave us excess love and happiness. I was raised in a neighbourhood where people have a humble life, but they are close and know each other. When we cook something, we used to share the food with a lot of friends who live on the same street, the close relationship, friendship is part of our routine in my country.

Even though the Brazilian people are happy, does not mean we have an easy life. We get up early, catch a terribly busy public transport and work over eight hours every day. When we go back home it is already late, over 7 pm usually. The students go to University after work and the parents go home to prepare dinner and take care of their family. I know when I explain the Brazilian way of life it sounds very similar to the Canadian lifestyle. However, I can tell you it is way different.

First in Canada we usually work fewer hours per week than in Brazil, plus in Brazil, it is not possible to live with a minimum wage. Here in Canada at least you can have a home and food.

Second, in Canada we have access to material things, we have opportunity. In Brazil, even though we work a lot we may not buy a good car or have a house for living.

Third, in Brazil, it is hard to feel safe. Violence is increasing day by day. We cannot walk while talking on the cell phone without the fear that our cell phone would be stolen. Otherwise in Canada, we have more safety.

Finally, after living in Canada I should say, yes, it is possible to compare a poor country to a rich country. Now I realize that the differences are beyond just the economic situation, it involves much more.

I can see that before living in Canada I was always afraid of violence, afraid of losing my job and not seeing my family after work hours.  After living in Canada, I am sure that we do not need to be rich to have access to basics things, like education, health, safety, and quality of life.

Yes, I miss my family, my friends the close relationship and sharing things in my neighbourhoods. However, living here in Canada gave me the hope of living a better life!


Eid Ul-Adha

Author: Hafizul I.
Level: 7
Instructor: Raghad (Rachel) A.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

learning on keyboard close up

Eid Ul-Adha is celebrated by Muslims once a year. It is one of two big celebrations that Muslims around the world celebrate. This celebration showcases devotion, respect and sacrifice as well as unity towards other Muslims around the world. I will focus on Muslim traditions during this celebration.

One or two days before Eid  people start preparing gifts, Eid  Mubarak cards, and house decorations inside and outside. It is much fun to decorate with family members. They invite their neighbours Muslim and non-Muslim who live in the area. Contact friends, pick out a nice outfit, and prepare all the food for Eid prior to that day.

During the Eid day, everyone wakes up early morning, takes a shower and wears new or clean religious dresses. Before they go pray they eat some sweets and go to the mosque to pray after prayers they go for Qurbani meaning (sacrifice) which is usually a goat, sheep, cow or camel and this is divided into three parts.  One third is for family, one third is for friends and the final third is donated to those in need. Traditionally the day is spent celebrating with family, friends and loved ones, wearing new or best attire and the giving gifts.

Eid Ul-Adha is celebrated with great religious devotion. This Eid is celebrated on 10th day of the Hijiri month in the Islamic calendar in memory of Ibrahim and Ismail. Finally Muslims celebrate this Eid festival to pay respect to the sacrifice of Ibrahim (peace be upon him), that is the way all Muslims celebrate Eid with great respect.


Cultural Traditions in Vietnam

Author: Nhung L.
Level: 5
Instructor: Raghad (Rachel) A.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

vietnam flag

Vietnam is an Asian country that has a growing economy. Ha Noi is the capital of my country's North side. Ho Chi Minh City is the biggest city in Vietnam which has the most population in my county. Vietnam is a multicultural society because there are 54 groups of nations that live together. Kinh Vietnamese are the biggest group of nations with 90 percent of the population. However most small nations have a similar culture to Kinh Vietnamese's culture. 

 Vietnam has some big holidays during the year. The Lunar New year is the biggest holiday. People celebrate holidays with their family by visiting each other or traveling somewhere in the country or to another country. They make so many kinds of food and invite their family and friends to come visit their house and enjoy delicious food and talk together.

Showing respect to their ancestors is a habit in each family during every holiday as well as every day in the evening. They put some foods and fresh fruits on the shelf where they put the pictures of their ancestors to remember them. Vietnamese often help each other when people need help with something and they help people in their community. 

There is difference between the culture in a city and the countryside. People who live in the city are affected by the culture of other countries especially the French and Americans who fought in the Vietnamese war.  People who live in the countryside are affected by the Chinese culture. This difference in the culture of the countryside and the city shows the real heritage of Vietnam.



Learning at the Library

Author: Irene R.
Level: 6
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

library shelves

Libraries provide educational resources for everyone.  The resources are free of charge, including books, internet access and educational training programs. You can reserve books, DVDs and CDs from your computer, and cellphone, as well.

Librarians are professionally trained to help you find what you're looking for at the library.  They can help you with research, book recommendations, and so much more. They will assist with anything in the library.

My kids love the summer reading program. We visit the library weekly. They are excited every time we go to the library. They always bring their library cards and their mini library logbooks.  They are always thrilled after the summer reading program is finished because they get a certificate and a pizza coupon.

Some of the benefits of going to the library are making new friends and learning and discovery many new things. It is the best way to motivate your children read and establish a love of literacy.

"Libraries represent the diversity and immensity of human thought, our collective knowledge laid out in rows of revealing inspiration." - Manuel Lima



How I found my first job in Canada.

Author: Binh H.
Level: 4
Instructor: Raghad (Rachel) A.
Photo Credit: Iakov Filimonov / 123RF Stock Photo

Modern bakery with different kinds of bread, cakes and buns

My husband helped me find a job in Canada.  I started looking for a job in a bakery. I had a resume, my instructor and coworker helped me write it. After I gave my resume, the bakery called me for an interview. They asked me where I worked before and I told them about my experience.

My first job I started in 2007 and now I feel very happy because I have more experience working in Canada.



Our Furry Friend

Author: Leisa P
Level: 7
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: akz / 123RF Stock Photo

Little pinscher ratter prazsky krysarik purebreed small dog sitting relaxing and chilling on sofa couch indoor.

One time we decided to buy a dog. We tried to find the best breed of dog for our family, one that would be friendly with the kids. We decided to buy a miniature pincher. This is a small and very smart dog with very short fur, so, we didn't have to worry about washing our legs after going outside as we hoped that it would not shed lots of fur everywhere in the house, which is what happens with other long-haired dogs.

We had a few options for buying our future puppy. The first option was to buy a dog in Canada, but this was very expensive. Also, if we chose that option, we would have to go to another province to do that. Since we had already planned to visit our family in Ukraine, after finding out how to buy and bring a puppy over to Canada from Ukraine, we decided to buy a miniature pincher from there. The cost, including all expenses, was half the price of buying it here in Canada.

When we arrived in Ukraine, I found our future puppy online in the same city we were visiting. My eldest daughter and I went to pick up our dog. When we got to the owner's house, their momma dog met us at the door. She very friendly. The owner gave us the option of choosing a puppy from the litter but our puppy chose us. She just came to us. My daughter named her Jessica; we call her Jessi for short.

Jessi spent a couple of weeks with us before traveling to Canada, to her new home. I bought a passport, pet cage and air tickets for all three airplanes for her. Before our trip we made sure Jessica had a medical examination. Everything was easy and perfect. However, during our flights she was not very quiet. On the flight from Warsaw-Toronto a stewardess put the cage with Jessi in it on an empty seat in the middle row between people and put a safety belt on the top of the cage. While the airplane was landing, Jessi barked at her neighbours. She was so loud! Some people just laughed, while others looked around in bewilderment.

Finally, when we arrived home, Jessi was very happy that her long trip was over and that she was finally home. Now we have a good friend and a very good defender. Nobody can come to our house without her barking loudly so we always feel safe. We are very happy to have our Jessica and never regret bringing her over from Ukraine.



The Smartphone: A Great Invention?

Author: Furong Z.
Level: 6
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: 123RF Stock Photo

close up person using smartphone with hands

Nowadays, televisions and computers are very common in our lives. You can travel all over the world just by watching TV. If you have any questions, the computers always give you answers but I still think that the greatest invention is the smartphone.

At present, almost everyone has a smartphone and a lot of people cannot go anywhere without it. Smartphones have changed our lives and made our lives more convenient and colourful. We can do so many things using our smartphones.  For example, I benefit from online shopping and online classes because I live in a small town far away from the big city. I watch TV series and the news from my phone. It seems that my phone has replaced my television and computer. The most important thing I use my smartphone for is for chatting with my family face-to-face every day so as to lighten my homesickness. Twenty years ago, few people could have imagined all of these amazing new things.

Furthermore, parents have peace of mind when their kids have a smartphone. They can get in touch with each other anytime, whether their kids are at school or playing with friends outside. Teachers use apps as well to connect with parents.

While we certainly enjoy the convenience of smartphones, there are also some problems that can be frustrating. For example, mobile phone games attract students and some of the students have become addicted to these games. More and more, people like to browse their mobile phones at home instead of partaking in outdoor activities. People's daily interactions have decreased so much in the last decade.

Although smartphones have some disadvantages, they are too essential to our daily lives to replace. We just need to find a balance between the smartphones' benefits and risks.


This Year Kinda Sucks!

Author: Roksolana D.
Level: 5
Instructor: Moninder G.
Photo Credit: Dmitry Naumov / 123RF Stock Photo

Dramatic sky with stormy clouds

This year has been so different for me, and for everybody else I think.  My kids describe have described 2020 in the following words: I hate this year, or It sucks! Usually, after that, we have a long talk about the words "hate" and "sucks" and discuss how there are other words that can describe their feelings exactly the same way, but that don't sound as strong. Do you think that helps? No, not at all. They are still continuing to let us know how much they hate 2020. And guess what?  I hate it too.

Last year we moved to Saskatoon from a small town with big plans to try new things that life in a big city can offer but we didn't know what the future had in store for us. Instead of having endless amounts of fun, we got trapped in a small apartment with no privacy inside of it, and no entertainment outside of it. It's been a time that has changed all of us. I would love to say that it changed us in a good way, but honestly, I can't.

Today I listened to a song, a really depressing one, and I caught myself enjoying it, feeling it. All the lyrics of the song were pretty sad. I can only remember this one line:  How much can you take before you snap? Apparently, I can take a lot. I'm still walking, I'm still living, but I'm so tired, I'm so drained.

I truly hope it's just temporary, but this year took away a pure sense of happiness from me. It became harder to navigate the right path leading into the future, harder to feel safe and confident about tomorrow.

My first sentence in the draft copy of this article was that next month my family and I will move to our own house. It was supposed to be an exciting line to start this story with, full of thankfulness about our first family house, which I have dreamed about for the last 10 years. Somewhere, deep in the bottom of my heart, I am really happy, but all this excitement has been covered over with a whole bunch of different worries and anxieties because, well, you know… Covid-19, Murder Hornets, the economic crash, the Supervolcano at Yellowstone ready to erupt anytime, etc.

To finish this paragraph with at least some beam of light and a glimmer of hope, I just want to share this quote that I read yesterday, and decided to decorate the wall of my bedroom in my new house with:

What if I fall?
Oh, but my darling,
what if you fly?
- Erin Hanson


Trump's Family in the Spotlight on Republican Convention

Author: Mireille G.
Level: 8
Instructor: Inara M.
Photo Credit: Maciej Gillert / 123RF Stock Photo

WARSAW, POLAND - JUNE 6, 2017: Donald Trump, Melania Trump with visit in Poland o/p Donald Trump, Melania Trump

Research source: https://www.cbc.ca/news 

Trump, the president of the United States, is behind Joe Biden in the poll for the next election. He is trying to improve his standing for the 2020 presidential election. He is trying to make Americans forgive him for his pandemic management and the related economic devastation.

For the second night of the Republican Convention, Trump asked his family to help him to convince Americans to vote for him. The principal speaker will be his wife, Melania, followed by his daughter Tiffany and his son Eric.There will be other speakers who are not in his family. However, the focus will be on his wife. The night is called the lady's night.

Melania Trump will argue for another term  for her husband. In the past, she did not respond to the claims of infidelity against her husband. She visited, at the border, immigrant children separated from their parents by the Trump administration. She participated in the campaign against cyberbullying even though her husband used a lot of cyberbullying.  

For me, it is  inappropriate to use his family in his administration. I am very sad for his wife who seems to have more values in life than him to argue for him. We can feel that Trump seems desperate. He is using all his tools to gain the next election.



My Interests

Author: Dimitri S.
Level: 5
Instructor: Kara M.
Photo Credit: Dean Drobot / 123RF Stock Photo

Back view of teenage gamer boy playing video games online on computer in dark room wearing headphones with microphone and using backlit colorful keyboard

I used to be a gamer. I spent a lot of time in the online worlds a few years ago. I learned and met so many people during these times. Of course all meetings were online and non-personal but I still became good friends without meeting each other in person. What did change my lifestyle so quick?  I got kids! And I couldn't find enough time for both Kids and my online life. I decided to stop gaming to spend more time with wife and kids. I'm still remembering the good old fights with my teammates vs. bad guys but I never regret the decision.

One Hobby brought another expensive hobby. To be a good gamer you have to own a good computer, the connection between you and your enemy. I learned to build my own Gaming PC's to have a perfect machine for my needs. To be up to date I had to upgrade my computer often and if I'm talking about often I mean something around 300-500 dollars every 3 months. And that is the average; paying $500 is just changing one or two things in the Hardware. Quit gaming should save me money but I found another hobby and the entire funds go there so there were no savings from my hobbies back home.



Coconut Cake Recipe

Author: Asia I.
Level: 7
Instructor: Dragana B.
Photo Credit: Jacek Nowak / 123RF Stock Photo

Closeup of homemade coconut cake with nuts and foam


  • 1 cup of yogurt
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 1 cup of oil
  • 3 eggs
  • a splash of vanilla
  • 1 cup of  flour
  • 1 cup of coconut
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder


  1. Mix the yogurt, sugar, oil, eggs and vanilla in a blender.
  2. Add the flour, coconut and the baking powder.
  3. Stir only in one direction
  4. Pour into a greased pan and cover with Pakistani vermicelli noodles
  5. Bake in 360 degrees for 40 minutes.
  6. When done, pour sweetened condensed milk over the cake(about ⅓ cup)