Introducing Ottawa winter

<p>Growing up in Morocco, Youssef Bounagui had heard all about snow.</p>




Tracey Tong/metro ottawa


Canadian newcomers Irina and Serge Filipschi tried out snowshoeing at Gatineau Park yesterday. The couple moved to Canada from Moldova, near Romania.

Growing up in Morocco, Youssef Bounagui had heard all about snow.

But the newcomer to Canada never had a chance to really mess around in the white stuff until yesterday.

“It’s my first time,” he said, grinning and shifting his feet in a pair of snowshoes. “It’s nice. It’s cold.”

Longtime residents may grumble at the snow, but for new Canadians like Bounagui, the capital is a veritable winter wonderland.

More than 50 new Canadians tried snowshoeing yesterday at Gatineau Park in an event designed by the National Capital Commission to acclimatize newcomers to their wintry new surroundings. Held as part of Skifest, about 500 new Canadians will attend to try out winter sports this year, said NCC spokeswoman Annie Desrosiers.

“A lot of them have never had the chance to do winter sports,” said Desrosiers.

Erl Jean-Pierre of Haiti, who recently relocated to Ottawa, said he likes snow and that Gatineau Park is “beautiful.”

Ishrat Kona couldn’t stop taking pictures of the snow and asked park volunteers to take photos of her in snowshoes.

Kona, who moved here from Bangladesh, had heard about snow all her life, but only saw it for the first time last year. She plans on getting involved in more winter sports with her children and recently bought her nine-year-old son skates.

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