Discovering winter and quiet streets: Video series highlights P.E.I. immigrant experience

·2 min read
The Tinocos enjoy getting out and enjoying the P.E.I. landscape (Jamie and Sara Tinoco - image credit)
The Tinocos enjoy getting out and enjoying the P.E.I. landscape (Jamie and Sara Tinoco - image credit)

A video series from Immigrant and Refugee Services of P.E.I., My P.E.I., features the life changes of new Canadians living on the Island.

"The idea is just to let these people share their stories about what brought them to the province in the first place, and in many cases why they are staying here," said Todd MacEwen, communications director for IRSA.

The series was developed in a partnership with P.E.I. filmmaker Ryan McCarvill.

While a lot has been written about the importance of immigration for economic growth, MacEwen said IRSA wanted to highlight the different faces and different types of immigration to the Island.

'Here people don't even honk'

Elizabeth Iwunwa was born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, and moved to P.E.I. in 2014 for university.

She ended up staying, and now she's working as a junior policy analyst in the P.E.I. Department of Agriculture.

Coming from a country of 200 million people, P.E.I.'s size was the first thing that struck her.

"You can see figures and not quite know what they mean for you," said Iwunwa.

"In Lagos, there are about 20 million people there, and everything is loud and alive and there's just a very palpable energy that's in the air, whereas here people don't even honk."

In the evenings Iwunwa is working on a book, an anthology of immigrant life on P.E.I.

'We wanted our sons to be safe'

The Tinocos are a family of four, originally from Mexico City, but more recently from Tijuana. They came to P.E.I. in 2018.

Jamie and Sara moved to P.E.I. because they wanted a better environment to raise their sons, Jamie Jr. and Matt.

"We were living in a big city with big problems, so we decided to come here because we wanted our sons to be safe," said Jamie.

They were running a software sales business in Mexico, and moved the business with them to P.E.I.

One of the things the older Tinocos are enjoying about P.E.I. may be something people born on the Island might not identify with: winter.

"We know some Canadians don't enjoy the winter, but for us it's amazing," said Jamie.

They enjoy hiking in the snow and getting out to hockey games.

Jamie has also found the Island to be a great multicultural experience. He has made friends from India, Pakistan, Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, as well as from Canada.

IRSA has two videos posted on its Youtube channel and a third will be up shortly.

There are plans to shoot two or three more in the fall, and develop My P.E.I. into a continuing series.

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