Johanesa and his family’s first Canada day

July 14, 2022

Dear readers, welcome back! Unlike the last few blog posts, this time we are presenting a newcomer and his family’s perspective on their first ever Hawkesbury Multicultural Festival.

First, let us introduce Johanesa.

He is a young man from Fianarantsoa, an urban town in south-central Madagascar. Ten years before moving to Hawkesbury, he moved to the national capital of Madagascar, Antananarivo, to pursue his studies. It’s there that Johanesa met his wife, with whom he started a small family. Together, they decided to immigrate to Canada in order to give their son a better future. To make this decision, Johanesa spoke with friends and acquaintances who were already living in Canada. He asked them for advice and feedback before starting the immigration process and beginning his job search, targeting regions between Ottawa and Montreal. It’s then that he came across a job offer in his field, in French, in the Hawkesbury region, one of Canada’s 14 Welcoming Francophone Communities. In August 2021, Johanesa successfully completed his first interview with Chabo Communications & Design, located in L’Orignal, a village neighbouring Hawkesbury. The Chabo team then began the hiring and immigration process with him through the Government of Canada’s Mobilité Francophone program. After several months and many steps, he finally arrived with his family at the end of March 2022! The creative agency being one of our partners, we spoke with Johanesa about his very first Canada Day and the very first Hawkesbury Multicultural Festival he attended with his family.

Canada Day

July 1, 2022, was the first major national holiday that Johanesa and his family were able to attend. What struck them the most was the festive atmosphere and the great sense of pride felt by all the Canadians they met.

First, Johanesa explained that the festive atmosphere here is very different from anywhere else. In most of the places he had visited before, such as Mauritius, Africa and France, festivities were essentially based on large gatherings, food and alcohol. He says that in most cases, he would not have been comfortable being with his child at this type of celebration as it could have been too dangerous. In Canada, Johanesa was pleasantly surprised by the atmosphere. He described it as “festive and friendly, yet calm and gentle.” He told us that although many things and sensations were new to him, he felt safe with his family.

Next, Johanesa emphasizes the feelings of belonging and pride that Canadians have. He says that although these feelings are present elsewhere, they are not felt as much as here. Seeing people walking around with Canadian flags, red and white clothing and small temporary tattoos specifically intended for this day is special and very different from what he has experienced elsewhere. One phrase that stood out for us was that “the people here take complete ownership of this day and it seems that their nationality is part of them.”

On this day, Johanesa and his family participated in a potluck dinner organized by Riverest Marina for its members, their families and friends, and the Chabo Communications & Design agency. There they met many friendly people. They were also able to taste many new dishes. Their day was filled with new sensations, new faces, new flavours and music of all kinds, as they also participated in the Hawkesbury Multicultural Festival and watched the fireworks at Place des Pionniers.

Hawkesbury Multicultural Festival 2022

For the first time ever, the town of Hawkesbury has decided to celebrate Canada Day with an event that celebrates all nationalities! Let’s face it, this cultural diversity is one of Canada’s greatest riches. From Thursday, June 30 to Sunday, July 3, 2022, our city was able to highlight this precious and growing wealth within our region.

The schedule had many different shows and activities and highlighted a variety of cultures. There was a wonderful variety of musical genres, some familiar and some less so. From jazz to rock to reggae, there was something for everyone. Johanesa even told us he had seen a group of people line dancing to country music, offstage, out of the blue. He was very surprised and amused by the experience. Another thing he appreciated was being able to approach and talk to some of the volunteers who were helping with security and the organization of the event. According to him, everyone was very welcoming and the whole event was successful.

Many would say that the highlight of the festival was Corneille, an internationally renowned Canadian singer and songwriter who was born in Germany and is of Rwandan heritage. But for us, all four days of the festival were remarkable. The atmosphere was pleasant and family-friendly, the participants were enthusiastic and happy, and the artists knew how to enchant us. A perfect combination!

To learn more about the 2022 edition of the festival, visit the Town of Hawkesbury website.

According to Johanesa, moving to another country requires a lot of adaptation in all areas of one’s life. But he says that Canada is not like other places. It’s “a great country to live in.”

* We would like to thank Johanesa, Kim Woodbury and the town of Hawkesbury volunteers for the photos.

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