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Greg and Paulina Chlosta Story

October 16, 2020

South Central Post, Oct. 15,2020

by BRAEDEN THIESSEN

During the strategic planning session in Oct 2018, PVLIP identified that Celebrating Cultural Diversity was one way to help create Welcoming & Inclusive Communities. The Action Plan suggested multiple activities that would achieve that through com- munity events, awareness opportunities, and educational discussions.

However, due to the corona virus pandemic that emerged in spring of 2020, these activities were no longer able to be delivered as expected. This resulted in an opportunity to look into a digital format and create a video series of newcomer stories that could be shared and used in multiple delivery formats to help raise awareness of diversity in the Pembina Val- ley. These can now be viewed on You Tube at: https://youtu.be/YBGZX08kLpg

Two summer students were hired through Canada Summer Jobs, and  worked  together with the PVLIP Coordinator to assist with interviews, record and edit videos, as well as create full length written stories that could be available at South Central Regional Libraries, high schools and for sale in local gift shops. The videos and stories represent lived experiences from some youth, university students, families, and young couples. Below is one of the stories:

“We are completely different people now. We are more confident. There never was an ‘aha’ moment, but we just realized that Canada is our home now.”

Greg and Paulina Chlosta had busy lives in their home in Europe and they are just as busy in Canada. They are originally from Poland and moved to Winnipeg four years ago. Then, they settled in Altona. But before they came to Manitoba, the couple lived in England for a year and a half. The couple say that there is a huge difference between life in Europe and life in Canada. “Life is more busy in Europe,” Paulina said. “The streets are full of people and all you do is work and go home.” “In Canada,” Greg explained, “life is more slow I would say, especially here in the prairies. The people are more friendly here and less judgmental. But it was still hard to adjust to life in Canada rather than adjust to life in England. We are so used to that busy lifestyle.” One challenge that the couple faced when they first came to Altona was making friends. “I didn’t want to admit it at first, but I was quite lonely.” Paulina said. “Greg was at work and I didn’t have a job for the first few weeks in Altona. I just was at home alone with a TV and that was when I really missed my country and my friends back home.”

Greg already has a job that he loves at Friesen’s in Altona. However, in his spare time, he is working towards another goal. “I’m studying in my free time to become a software developer. I’m not the greatest developer but I have a huge passion and knowledge for all kinds of technology.” They believe that they have changed a lot since coming to Canada from Europe. “We are completely different people now,” Greg de- scribed. “We are both more open and receptive to others. And also, we both have different goals in life now. But we just realized that Canada is our home now.”

“I believe that we are more confident,” Pau- lina continued, “there never was an ‘aha’ mo- ment. I believe my early struggles were very hard, but they have made me stronger. I teach yoga classes now at the Altona Yoga Studio and it’s helped me make connections with so many people. And I never thought that was possible because I was very shy when I first came here.” Greg admitted that Manitoba is not an easy place to live, but it’s still wonderful. “It’s a bit weird that I say this. I believe that if you live here, you have to sacrifice something in or- der to get something else. You can’t just have everything you want here. It’s not straight for- ward advice. Also, you shouldn’t take anything for granted. Ask others for help and they will gladly give it to you.”

Paulina advises any potential newcomers that change is hard, but in the long run, it will be worth it. “Be patient and open. I believe in Canada there is equal opportunities for every- one. If you want to achieve something, go for it. It will help you in the long run. So yeah, just go for it!”

Elaine Burton Saindon is the  Coordinator of the Pembina Valley Local Immigration Partnership which represents 13 municipalities in southern Manitoba and works with local stakeholders to develop and implement sustainable solutions for the successful integration of newcomers. For more information please visit www.pvlip.ca, our Facebook page or email: info@pvlip.ca

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