Pooneh Meratian — who is expecting her first child in September — moved to Vancouver from Iran two months ago. Her classmate at SUCCESS, Gehan Saati, came from Egypt this year. They sat down with Metro to talk about their experiences as new Canadians:

Why did you choose to come to Canada?
Pooneh: I wanted to make a better future for me and my family ... There is high gender equality and women are well respected here. Also there is freedom, peace and democracy. Canada just fits the values I want to give my children.

Gehan: My son is here and there are many opportunities in Canada. And it’s a very beautiful country and humans have dignity.

What were your first impressions of Canada?
Pooneh: I was impressed by the level of integration of the immigrants. A lot of immigrants from different cultures live together peacefully.

Gehan: Canada is really culturally diverse and when I walk down the street, people speak together without thinking about where they come from.

What is the one thing you love most about Ottawa?
Pooneh: Mostly the beautiful nature and clean air and very friendly people.

Gehan: Walking the seawall is very nice. Everywhere you go, people greet you with a smile.

What is the one thing you still find strange?
Pooneh: The high tax. But when I look at the social services I realize where the money goes.

Gehan: How can Canadians are very serious at work yet they still keep a sense of humour.

What are the 3 words you would use to describe your new home?
Pooneh: Peaceful, beautiful and respectful.

Gehan: Beautiful, welcoming and full of hope.