Participants in the English as a Second Language Settlement Assistance Program spent a day enjoying the snow and a popular Canadian past time. ESL coordinator Miriam Colvin said that the event was part of promoting cultural literacy.

Participants in the English as a Second Language Settlement Assistance Program spent a day enjoying the snow and a popular Canadian past time. ESL coordinator Miriam Colvin said that the event was part of promoting cultural literacy.

ESL participants enjoy Canada’s great outdoors

On Feb. 12 a group of immigrants through SCSA's ESL Settlement Program took to the snowy wilderness on horse sleighs.

A smile is the same in any language, as participants of Smithers Community Services’ English as a Second Language Settlement Assistance Program learned on Feb. 12.

On that date a diverse group of people living in Smithers loaded on to two horse-drawn sleighs with B&T Sleigh Rides in Telkwa to get a taste of a Canadian winter.

SCSA’s ESL coordinator Miriam Colvin said events like this help immigrants integrate into the Canadian lifestyle.

“If we don’t go out and enjoy [winters] we’re not able to have a very joyful life here,” said Colvin. “When people move here from other places it’s really easy to not want to be cold and stay inside, so I just wanted to do an event that would get us outside, enjoying our long winter, doing something that has roots in Canadian heritage.”

Twenty-five people, both adults and children, participated in the event. Colvin said this event tied into February’s month-long push for literacy, as this event extends the concept of literacy to include cultural literacy and family literacy.

During their afternoon in the wild, participants cooked hot dogs and made smores, and shared stories about the winter with each other.

“I think each of us is an expert in our own culture so we learn cultural literacy by coming together as equals, and we all have something to teach,” said Miriam.

There were cultural representatives of Sudan, Tunisia, Vietnam, Japan, China, Argentina, Germany, the USA, England, and others.

“I love to meet all these great people from all over the world. To have this opportunity in a small town like Smithers is a great treat,” said Petra Kost, a Smithers resident who originally hails from Germany.

The ESL Settlement Assistance Program has a two-part mandate. One is to help immigrants improve their English language skills, while the other is to increase immigrants’ knowledge of Canada.