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SPRING2014 Multicultural Association of
Wood Buffalo
Multicultural Stories

inflated as the food. The apartment block in where there are 2,000 applicants for every
Thickwood costs 2,500 in rent per month. job advertised. Canadians are very helpful
Speaking of his community, Naveen and generally you get help when you ask for
enlightened me that around 400 Gujarati it. There is much less corruption here, he
families live in Fort McMurray. The com- feels. Work life is pretty stress-free.
munity is pretty close-knit and celebrates Being vegetarian they don`t go out to eat
Hindu festivals like Diwali and Navratri often; there are few places that understand
where the traditional folk dance, Garba is vegetarianism. “Sometimes we go to Sub-
conducted every year at Father Mercredi way,” says Ashwin.
school auditorium. Kids have many avenues for recreation
Naveen appreciates the dignity of labour. he says. Chint is learning swimming, skating
No one is inferior or superior based on his and shotokan karate.
job, he says. Ashwin differs; he says that Naveen has an Alberta drivers license
in India as we have the higher, middle and and would love to drive but fears the hike in
lower classes, there is a subtle class system insurance premium. Thinking of the crazy
here too. Canadian companies draw their traffic situation in his home city, Ashwin
tier-3 workers from third world countries. challenges any local resident to drive in
Not so sure about that; “wherever the Indian cities. Driving here gets a bit difficult
labour shortage, they draw people from the during the winter when the roads are coated
outside,” I interjected. with ice, but otherwise it is cake-walk.
Does he miss India? Yes he says, espe- He feels he has a good life with his im-
cially during the festival season. He misses mediate family and grandkids. They enjoy
his family and friends, the food and his the Canadian life besides watching Gujarati
profession. films and cooking their native vegetarian
Naveen dreams of being able to sponsor cuisine at home albeit with fewer options.
his sons and later, returning to set up his Jalpa doesn’t hide her pleasure at having
practice back home. He says that people her parents with her and Naveen is a con-
are so busy here they don’t have time to tent grandpa.
Kids have build friendships. Life is too fast paced here, A pleasing aroma wafts through the air
many avenues for adds Jalpa, his daughter. finding my nose as his wife serves me the
recreation he says. What he doesn’t miss is the pollution, most delicious ginger chai with biscuits
Chint is learning the infections so rampant in India’s tropical and home-made snack of rice flakes called
swimming, skating humid climate. He says that he used to chiwda. It is with a heavy heart that I leave. I
am touched. Kudos to their struggles, their
catch a cold quite frequently in India. Here
and shotokan he doesn’t fall sick as often. He remembers survival instinct, their warmth and their
karate the extreme degree of competition in India hope of a bright future for the family.
And this is just one among the 2000-
odd South-East Asian families living in Fort

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