There are few experiences as stereotypically Canadian as attending a hockey
game on a cold winter night, which made for a perfect introduction to the
country for a group from the Calgary Centre for Newcomers.
About 20 recent arrivals to Canada packed a suite at the Scotiabank
Saddledome to watch the host Calgary Hitmen take on the Kootenay Ice in
Western Hockey League action on Jan. 27, hosted by the Hockey Canada
While seeing ice indoors (or at all) was a first for many of them, there
was one moment in particular – before the game even began – which captured
the attention of siblings Destiny and Faith Fomekung.
“I was so impressed about the anthem and it was so amazing,” said
Destiny and Faith, 18, arrived in Canada from Cameroon six months ago. They
joined their mother, who has been in the country for five years, working
toward a better future for the family. Faith hopes to work with children
and is planning to train as a pediatrician or midwife.
“[The] educational system here is very interesting,” she said. “The
teachers are very welcoming, [and so are] the people around you. You find
different categories of people around you and they’re very friendly with
Abdul Janahli is also excited about the educational opportunities in
Calgary. Along with his younger sister and brother, Abdul fled Syria in
December, three years into a civil engineering degree. He plans to complete
the degree through courses he is taking at Mount Royal University.
He was impressed by the speed and teamwork of the Hitmen, who scored twice
in the first period and twice in the second to earn a 4-1 win over the Ice.
“I liked the match and the players and how they passed and they played as
well as they can,” he said. “The [skating] was very fast. Both team[s] were
very good but the Hitmen were better.”
Lina Janahli says she hopes to watch more hockey once the family has
finished reconnecting after five years apart. The Janahli children lost
their father in the Syrian war while their mother came to Canada ahead of
“It was amazing and there was lots of crying,” Lina says of the moment they
saw their mother again.
Thanks to assistance from the Centre for Newcomers, which provides training
programs and collaborative support services for immigrants to promote full
integration, cultural diversity, community participation and citizenship,
the Fomekung and Janahli families are embracing their new start in Calgary,
despite the cold.
“Everything about Canada is so perfect, I really love it,” said Destiny.
“Very different, the climate change and the government is so calm and
“Maybe I will make an amazing future, graduate from high school and go to
university,” said Lina.
As a registered charity, the Hockey Canada Foundation depends on
financial support. To help the Foundation continue to strengthen the bond between
Canadians and hockey through opportunities that enable, engage and educate
players, coaches, fans and supporters of this game that we love, you may
donate online at