Newcomers prepare for their first Winnipeg winter

By: Teah Lytwyn


Winter in Winnipeg can be tough, but for newcomers to the city, it’s a brand-new – and sometimes unexpected – experience.


Tariq Ajam, a Red River College (RRC) student in the applied accounting program, grew up in Syria and lived in Jordan for four years. He moved to Winnipeg in August.

Tariq Ajam, 27, is an Applied Accounting student at Red River College. He is experiencing his first winter in Winnipeg after moving from Jordan./TEAH LYTWYN

According to Ajam, the average winter temperature in Jordan sits between 7 C and 10 C. The coldest temperature he’s felt was -11 C. He said he’s not worried about the cold Winnipeg winters.


“Even if it’s -20 C, -15 C, -30 C, it’s still cold,” said Ajam. “I know it will be cold, but I doubt that it’ll be that cold.”


Ajam is looking forward to the things he’ll be able to do during winter. He said that snow in Syria caused road closures and everyone stayed home.


“I don’t have any experience about winter activities,” said Ajam. “So [I’m] really excited about these things.”


Eastman Immigrant Services (EIS) in Steinbach aims to assist immigrants settling in Southeastern Manitoba. Josie Fast, an employee of EIS, said that the centre usually gets about six newcomer families a month that have never experienced a Manitoba winter.


“We have to give them all the details about what frostbite is,” said Fast. “They usually freak out the first time it’s 10 C.”


Fast said she has suggested newcomers put their heads in the freezer to get an idea of how cold it’ll be.

Winnipeg residents are forced to pull out their winter gear early as temperatures drop. / TEAH LYTWYN


“When people start to think of it like that, then they’re a little bit more like ‘oh my goodness!’” said Fast.


Between the MCC thrift store and local clothing drives, Fast said that newcomers have no shortage of support.


“If somebody hears of a need, that person will have all the clothing and more they could possibly need for the winter,” said Fast. “People are incredibly generous that way.”