For a Rimbey family who moved here from Cuba last June, Canada Day and the freedom and pride the celebration implies, has special and meaningful significance.
After living, working and playing in Rimbey for more than a year, Madelin Sardina, Alex Suarez and their daughter Melissa are more than happy to call this community home and Canada their country of choice.
“It has been wonderful,” said Sardina. “Awesome.”
She and her husband moved to Rimbey as Suarez began working as chef of Henry’s, the restaurant at Best Western Rimstone Ridge Hotel.
Suarez has several years’ experience as a professional chef, working in large hotels and resorts in Cuba.
Now, he is able to bring his expertise to Rimbey, and, although he is used to working in much larger establishments, he finds the kitchen at Henry’s to have the latest up-to-date equipment and a pleasure to work in.
Sardina, who worked in the tourist industry in Cuba, said she and her husband were in Canada visiting a couple of years ago and loved it. Through the help of Canadian friends they were able to secure employment.
“We saw that there were many opportunities and we wanted to come here, but it took more than a year to make it all happen. It was worth it, though. There is much more opportunity here and we have received such a warm welcome. Everyone is so friendly and nice.”
The family has embraced the Canadian lifestyle wholeheartedly, even surviving the brutal winter with no complaints.
While most Rimbey residents, as many other Albertans, shivered and shook their way through another incredibly long and cold winter, Sardina and her husband Alex and their daughter delighted in the wonder of snow.
“It was wonderful, we had never seen snow before,” said Sardina, adding it gave her the same feeling of awe as seeing the ocean.
“It was beautiful,” her husband agreed. “We jumped in the snow,” he said with a laugh.
While the couple agreed the winter was long and cold, they were definitely more focused on how delightful the snow was and the fact their daughter was learning to skate.
Christmas was another high point of the winter for them, and a visit from Santa was exciting and fun.
“We never had Christmas before,” they said.
Buying a car, getting his driver’s license and getting behind the wheel, even facing the daunting task of driving in Edmonton has been a challenge for Alex, but one that he has met with determination and pride.
“It’s a new life here,” he said. “Everything is new.”
Since moving to Rimbey, the couple has been joined by other families from Cuba including Odofvany Rodriguez and Yunia Garcia and Yoel Sosa and Jacqueline, all of whom are employed at the Best Western.
Sardina is pleased to bring a Cuban touch to Henry’s, noting Cuban night has become so popular reservations are sometimes needed.
Now that Sardina and Suarez have spent a year in Canada, they have made another choice.
They want to be permanent residents.
The couple has both passed the first exam towards becoming Canadian citizens and is more than willing to complete all the necessary paperwork to make their stay official.
“We hope to live here forever,” said Sardina. “We love our country, but there many things are not allowed. We will visit there and we want our family to visit us. Here we live better.”
“It’s a new life,” added Suarez.