- The Thank You Canada Tour
- Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir along with Patrick Chan, Kaetlyn Osmond, Elvis Stojko, Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and more will bring their new figure skating show to 30 Canadian cities coast-to-coast
- THE THANK YOU CANADA TOUR Meet & Greet Upgrade
- Thank You Canada Adventure
- Opinion: Thank you, Canada, for letting me play basketball – despite Turkey’s threats against me
- Thank You Canada
- Immigrants say thank you to Canada
- Natasha Gudumac
- Bara’ah Jadallah
- Huong Tran
- Heather Wang
- Celine Xie
- Pashew Qadir
- David Tang
- Elahe Nazrirad
- Weaver, Poje take their chances with Thank You Canada tour
The Thank You Canada Tour
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Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir along with Patrick Chan, Kaetlyn Osmond, Elvis Stojko, Meagan Duhamel & Eric Radford, Kaitlyn Weaver & Andrew Poje and more
will bring their new figure skating show to 30 Canadian cities coast-to-coast
Canada has produced the most talented figure skaters in the history of the sport with household names Virtue, Moir, Chan, Osmond, Stojko and more who have reached the pinnacle of the sport in the Canadian Nationals, World Titles and Olympic Games. As a ‘thank you’ to their home country, these Canadian greats will embark on The Thank You Canada Tour, presented by Round Room this fall.
Launching October 5, 2018 in Abbotsford, BC, the cross-country tour will play in 30 cities, wrapping up in St. John’s, NL. Family, friends and long-time fans will have the special opportunity to see some of their favourite performances that put these Canadian darlings on the top of podiums around the world.
THE THANK YOU CANADA TOUR Meet & Greet Upgrade
You must have an event ticket to participate. The event ticket is not included. One (1) upgrade entitles one (1) person to attend.
When you purchase THE THANK YOU CANADA TOUR Meet & Greet Upgrade, you get a once in a lifetime chance to meet and interact with some true Canadian heroes.
But that’s not all – while you’re waiting your turn in line, you’ll be able to take some pictures with a collection of National Champion, World Champion and Olympic medals (some of them Gold!), competition worn costumes, and other memorabilia that has never been seen outside of our cast’s living rooms or on a TV screen. Each participant needs to have an upgrade ticket.
Here’s how it works: The Meet & Greet happens at the end of the show where after screaming and clapping all night you’ll want some water and we’ll have it there for you.
You will be in a cue where you’ll meet and take pictures with all the available members of that nights cast.
To be fair to everyone involved and to make sure that everyone has the best time, we request that you only get ONE item signed and ONE picture taken while you are with the skaters.
Meet & Greet Upgrade purchasers should go to the check-in table prior to the event to pick up the Meet & Greet passes and instructions for after the show.
We look forward to seeing you after the show!
Thank You Canada Adventure
For 2 months, we travelled across our beautiful country, performing in arenas jam packed with passion, energy and Canadian Pride.
We had a blast every single night, skating our hearts out and savouring the magical experience that was this group of individuals. Tessa, Scott, Patrick, Kaetlyn, Kaitlyn, Andrew, Eric and I.
We grew up together, watching and admiring icons such as Elvis Stojko. Never in our wildest dreams did we imagine what lay ahead of us when we all started this journey.
Just a little look back in our skating history as a group. In 2001, Tessa, Scott, Andrew, Eric and I, all competed at our first “international” event together. The North American Challenge competition in Chicago. In 2002 at a Skate Canada Development Camp I remember meeting this 11-year-old kid named Patrick Chan.
Everyone was already saying that Patrick is the future, but all I saw was a bratty little kid, rebelling in the few moments he had free of his parents supervision. In 2003, Tessa and I met again, as we were roommates at the Junior Grand Prix event in Bratislava. In 2004, I remember arriving at a Junior Grand Prix event in Belgrade and meeting the Canadian Team.
There was a kid named Patrick Chan that was supposed to attend the event, but we were told by Canadian officials that Patrick’s coach, Mr. Osborne Colson, wouldn’t allow him to come to this event because he hadn’t learned the triple axel yet.
In 2007 at my very first Grand Prix event, I roomed with Kaitlyn Weaver and I’ll never forget the amazing memory of rooming with her at the Grand Prix Final in 2014 when she won the gold medal. I made artwork proudly proclaiming “PERSONAL BEST” and put it on our door for her to see when she returned to bed that night.
Then, there was Scott Moir, in the summer of 2017, sitting at the gym telling me and Eric that Canada will win gold in Pyeongchang and we won’t accept anything less. And that we will ALL have each others back on the path to get there.
You see, our memories as a group go so much deeper then standing on the podium at the Olympics together. Our skating and careers are intertwined to each other. I don’t remember a moment in my career that one of these 8 individuals wasn’t there on the journey with me.
We gathered as a group in September for rehearsals in Montreal, and the excitement and buzz had already begun.
As I sat in the change room, and heard Elvis’s “Dragon” music playing, my heart started racing as I ran out to the ice to see what was happening. Elvis was practicing his 1994 free skate. The one which, as a child, I watched over and over and over again.
I knew every step, every musical note, I even remembered the commentary. Chills ran through my body. I couldn’t believe I was seeing this live.
One of my favourite memories on the tour was on opening night in Abbotsford. We stood at centre ice, wrapped in our Canadian flags, and sang Oh Canada, with the entire audience singing along. It was so powerful and it gave me a very small glimpse into the future of this tour, and the magic that was about to happen.
We drove across Canada by bus. Sleeping in bunk beds, waking up in arena parking lots. It’s not a glamorous lifestyle, but we made it fun.
I spent my days finding coffee shops, yoga classes and vegan restaurants in every city we went to. Than at night, we would perform a show for an energetic audience.
After our evening was finished, we would pack up our stuff, get on to the bus and head off to the next city throughout the night.
One of the most surprising parts of the tour for me was meeting the fans that had travelled far and wide to come to Canada to watch our show. Maybe I was naïve, thinking only Canadians would enjoy our show.
But during the meet and greets, we’d talk to fans and learn where they came from. We had American’s in Grand Prairie. Australian’s in Sydney, Nova Scotia. British in Kitchener.
We met people from Uruguay, Singapore, Japan, Germany and France, that had all come to Canada, to support The Thank You Canada tour. They all sang along to Oh Canada, and wore their red and white.
Many of them bought Canadian Flags and they all became honourary Canadians for a night. That was one of the most beautiful things about the tour for me. The fact that so many people gathered together to become one.
We also had an amazing group of fans from many cities and countries as well, called We The North. They were a group of girls and young ladies that met online, and gathered together at different Thank You Canada Tour stops. Their enthusiasm was contagious during every show.
There were some amazing audiences, but when the tour finished, and we reminisced about the best crowds on the tour, everyone agreed that our best tour stop was Sudbury.
Being my hometown, we were hoping for a big crowd to gather for the show. But sometimes it’s hard to know in advance how enthusiastic they will be.
I was shocked and honoured when I received such love and support from the audience.
That night in Sudbury seemed to be standing ovation, after standing ovation, after standing ovation. Supporting all of us, we were all hometown heroes.
One of the only low points of the tour as when we had to cancel a spot in Summerside, Prince Edward Island. The weather got bad on the east coast and going to Prince Edward Island involves crossing the confederation bridge.
It often has to close down because of strong winds, and the local police said our buses and trucks would not be able to make it across on the day we were due to travel.
To make that adventure even more dramatic, we were supposed to fly to Nashville (For another skating show) after the show in Prince Edward Island but since we couldn’t get there, we wouldn’t make our flights to Nashville.
With the airlines charging an arm and a leg to rebook flights, it was decided that we would take our tour bus from Sydney, Nova Scotia to Nashville, an estimated 25-hour journey. And so that began as we left the parking lot of the arena in Sydney …..
I went to bed that night and awoke early in the morning as the bus was stopped at the bridge to leave Cape Breton Island. We had been stuck for hours as the bridge was closed due to the storm. After waiting for over 4 hours, our bus was finally on it’s way.
We picked up a second bus driver in Maine and continued our path until we hit more snow storms on the east coast of the USA. We eventually had to reroute and spent a total of 45 hours on the bus driving to Nashville! Surprisingly, it didn’t feel that terrible.
A marathon of Gilmore Girls on TV, some bus yoga, books and crossword puzzles occupied me long enough to keep me from going crazy.
After our show in Nashville, we gladly jumped on airlines and ventured back to Canada and St. John’s, Newfoundland for the tours final stop.
What a journey it was, going coast to coast across our beautiful nation, meeting great people, (hopefully) inspiring a future generation of figure skaters and making memories to last a lifetime.
Eric and I had to incredible opportunity to perform our “With or Without You” short program every night, and the singer, April Meservy had to chance to see the show twice as well.
It’s funny to imagine when we choreographed that program back in June 2017, that we would still be performing that program now, in a completely different capacity.
It went from an emotional piece of music for us, to a fun creative process with John and Julie choreographing it, to the stressful daily task of training it, to the stressful task of competing it and by touring with it, we let it evolve into a beautiful sense of freedom. What an evolution to look back on with one single program.
And so with that, I thank you all for being part of our journey with The Thank You Canada Tour. Whether you saw a show live, or you followed along on social media, we felt your energy and support.
“I’ll remember our adventure forever. But now, it’s time for a new one”.
Opinion: Thank you, Canada, for letting me play basketball – despite Turkey’s threats against me
Boston Celtics centre Enes Kanter poses for a photo at Celtics media day on Sept. 30, 2019, in Canton, Mass.
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images
Enes Kanter plays for the Boston Celtics of the National Basketball Association.
For me, there is nothing I would rather do than play basketball. It’s my lifelong passion and my escape. Every time I go to a new city to play, I am humbled and inspired by my amazing fans, who keep encouraging me to be who I am.
But I haven’t been able to go to cities outside the United States. I’ve had to leave my team behind, which is hard for someone me, who values camaraderie and team solidarity as much as I do. The reason: I speak out against the Turkish state.
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In 2016, tens of thousands of innocent Turkish people, including babies and pregnant mothers, were thrown into prison following a failed coup against Turkey’s authoritarian leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
In his words, it was a “gift from God” that helped him crush the opposition, cleanse the military and transform the entire country in his own image.
As if this wasn’t enough, more than 100 Turkish dissidents who sought asylum in other countries, including in the Balkans, were kidnapped and sent to prisons in Turkey. I’m blessed that I’m in the U.S. and not in a dank prison cell.
Mr. Erdogan’s government has become so powerful that it can reach beyond its borders and into its opponents’ lives.
It is so angry with me for speaking up against its human-rights violations that it has issued an Interpol Red Notice for my arrest, even sending goons to harass me on the streets of Boston. Turkish ministers have flown to New York to encourage Mr.
Erdogan’s supporters to limit my activities and freedom in the U.S. Every time I meet public figures or politicians, Turkey’s diplomats intervene, threatening them or discouraging them from meeting with me again.
Almost every week, I receive death threats. I’ve already survived a kidnapping attempt in Indonesia. I have no idea what awaits me every time I travel somewhere.
So I’ve been forced to miss games, including one in London earlier this year, just because an autocrat 5,000 miles away wanted it to be so.
And it has been an open question whether I will be able to go to Toronto to play against the Raptors on Christmas Day, as scheduled.
I wasn’t under any illusion that my activism was going to come without repercussion. But the disproportionate retaliation I received from the Turkish government for calling them out has also taken an enormous toll on my personal life, my family and everyone who has stood by me.
There are public figures who have been placed in Turkish prisons just because they’ve exchanged messages with me. There are fans allegedly under investigation for having my autograph or for taking a photo with me.
My sister, who is a doctor, cannot get a job because we share the same last name. My father, an academic, was dismissed from his position and arrested; my mother hasn’t communicated with me for years now fear that she might get into trouble.
All these efforts are just to silence me.
Turkey is so powerful and strategically located that there is not much the world can do to prevent this once semi-democratic country from sliding into autocracy. Still, the Western world shouldn’t let Mr. Erdogan harass dissidents that have fled to seek refuge. It is the least it can do.
Canada sets a great example. The country’s hospitality has attracted thousands of highly-educated Turkish refugees, some of them former members of the judiciary, journalists, business people and university professors.
It is a spectacular display of solidarity with people who need help, a demonstration of Canada’s welcome attitudes and core values. I can’t thank the Canadian government enough for letting refugees from my home country survive here and continue practising their professions.
In the previous off-season, I crisscrossed the U.S. to hold 50 free youth basketball camps in 30 states to teach kids leadership, teamwork and sportsmanship, even though Turkish consulates across the U.S.
, in addition to pro-Erdogan groups, tried to intimidate venues into cancelling my camps. I hope to hold similar ones in Canada next summer.
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But as they increase the pressure, I am encouraged. As they tighten the noose, I feel liberated. I will use every opportunity to stand up for oppressed people everywhere, be their voice and champion.
For this reason, I recently started an online campaign called You Are My Hope, calling for the release of innocent people imprisoned in Turkey and raising awareness of the continuing crackdown. My supporters, wearing prison suits, stage protests in major cities.
We won’t tire and we won’t stay idle, because if there is one thing that will encourage evil to walk free on Earth, it is for us to remain silent in the face of scorching injustice, the s of which plagues every inch of my homeland.
I also want to thank Canada for another reason. I want to thank Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government, U.S. and Canadian law enforcement, U.S.
Senator Ed Markey, the Celtics, the NBA and my managers for working diligently to make my Christmas game against the Raptors possible and ensuring my safety there.
And, on Christmas day, I will play in my first game as a Celtic outside the U.S. when I take the court against the Raptors.
As Martin Luther King Jr. timelessly observed, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Standing up for something we believe in makes us better humans. And I couldn’t be happier that these people have worked together to stand up to Turkey’s injustice and that I will finally get to join my team and do what I do best: play basketball.
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Thank You Canada
Christmas in Australia sizzles with summer heat. It means long holidays, close family, no school, getting wet in pools, ice-blocks, BBQ, beach picnics, presents, great food, beer and wine flowing. Chock-o-block with endless celebrations, that’s the way we do it here; but it’s a special holiday all over the world.
Brave professionals from Canada arrived December 21st, missing their Christmas at home. Thrown into wretched smoke haze, heatwaves and a war zone of bushfire, they offered a fresh outlook. They were experienced and knew what to do straight away. They gave relief to Aussie firies; volunteers exhausted after already battling flames for 10 weeks straight.
Could professional fire-fighters from a different climate make much difference?
They could, they did, and then some.
One Canadian fire fighting specialist called Kent came to look at a fire next to our north-western farming property at Stangars Road. It had burnt over 400 hectares; about 1000 acres.
Nestled in steep old-growth forest that had never been cleared, the blaze threatened to cut off our only access road and surround us in fire.
If it did, there would be no stopping its progress through an inaccessible mountain range that meandered over 40 km.
If uncontrolled, it had the potential to become a mega-fire.
On the eve of New Year’s Eve, my husband, his brother, neighbours and the crew of their bush fire brigade stood by as wild winds continually changed direction. Earlier than others, they saw a magnificent fireworks display. Flames, sparks and embers danced sky high, decorating the air with wildfire.
No amount of water would have helped.
At 9 pm my sister-in-law rang to say her husband and mine might need to stay out all night. I was home fretting, squeezing my own hands so much it hurt.
They came back at midnight when the wind settled. They’d cleared away fuel, made fire trails, fire-breaks and completed as much containment as they could since it started December 10th.
Six expert Canadians helped out at the Liverpool Range Fire Control Centre. They had accumulated knowledge on tackling forest fires in the Rockies. All 6 were from the CIFFC, or Canadian Inter-agency Forest Fire Centre. They helped local RFS, our Rural Fire Service, deal with our 2 major blazes as well as a whole section of NSW fires, where 5 million hectares have burnt out.
Six Canadians worked in incident management and logistics. Two were aviation based, controlling the surveillance planes and helicopters. They planned air attacks, coordinating the water bombing craft. The other 4 men offered planning skills to those in the operations room.
Australian bushfires behave differently. We couldn’t rely on water to put out fires. After 3 years of unrelenting drought; water is in short supply. Through climate change our farm has gone from being temperate to looking semi-arid.
Aerial water-bombers, fighting fire with fire and using heavy earth moving equipment to aid containment is the way to bring Oz fires under control. The Canadians assisted with that; they’re paid by their government.
The majority of RFS personnel are volunteers. Rural men and women who want to protect their country homes and the land that surrounds them. They are vetted, signed up, put on the books and trained in fire-fighting, but they’re unpaid. The professionals at Fire Stations in towns and cities only put out structural fires in buildings, not rural properties or national parks.
No fire-fighters, paid or unpaid, were prepared for the size, scope or seriousness of the largest fires anywhere in modern history. Australian fires burnt 10 million hectares; twice as much as the Amazon fires. Our current crisis burnt 13 times more land than in the 2018 California Wildfire Season.
Old tree on the edge of the fire ground, still warm weeks later. Ash at the base looks white, snow drifts.
Kent lives near the tar sands of Athabasca in Alberta. He told my husband he’d seen worse fires in the Canadian Rockies, but that Aussie fires were fearsome. He gave his expertise on how to best handle forest fires from the air. Back in Canada tomorrow, he was worried about going from +40 degrees C to -40 degrees C within a day or so.
I’m thankful he and so many other Canadians travelled here, missed a family holiday and helped our amazing guys bring bastard bushfires under control.
He coped with 3 heatwaves where mercury rose to 42 degrees C, or 107.6 F, and he was still smiling.
Kent and his colleagues honestly said they enjoyed our warm summer.
Tactical, strategic aid given by the pro-fire-fighters made a positive impact on the Australian Bushfire Disaster. Regardless of nationality, what every fire-fighter achieved was nothing short of wonderful.
I know every one of them deserves a medal.
Kent was 1 of 2 aviation based Canadians who mapped the fire grounds, monitored the situation and devised strategies to improve conditions. He was in charge of air operations, planning air attacks at the control centre.
The first days of Top Gowrie fire there was so much smoke haze you could only see 12 white plumes.
My husband was told repeatedly that the RFS didn’t have the resources to water bomb our biggest bushfire. It burned though 1622 hectares around the tallest mountain on our farm. Deep ravines and steep cliffs proved inaccessible to the fire truck. Much of the high country had to be navigated on foot, and the hungry blaze grew larger over a fortnight.
The view from my lounge room windows, fires joined up on a rare clear day 14th December 2019.
My husband spent all hours, all day and half his nights at the fire front. In a state of high anxiety, I’d worry from the moment he left until he came home. It was seeing him head off to war. I knew he would keep us safe, but never really knew if he’d come home safely.
A dragon breathing red fire on the top of the high country.
It didn’t help when I could see smoke plumes sway and blossom from half the windows in our house. Obsessively checking the Fires Near Me website and continually looking through binoculars to search out flames isn’t good for anyone’s mental health.
The blanket of choking fire smoke drifted over us with every easterly wind.
Sleeping was a succession of nightmares. I’d wake in the small, dark hours and smell smoke. Tasting ashes at the back of my throat, I couldn’t settle until I checked the fire wasn’t closer. Then I’d be wide awake frightening myself with what-ifs until daylight.
Christmas afternoon I heard a helicopter overhead. I thought it was an aircraft checking terrain as usual until I heard it again. And again. That mighty chopper dumped load after load of water on our bushfire for hours.
On the 3rd pass, I ran outside.
As excited as any kid has ever been at Christmas, I waved to the pilot. Standing outside in heat and smoke I couldn’t stop myself waving, weeping tears of joy. I love birds, but that big bird in the sky really made my day. I didn’t know if Kent was responsible, or if it was one of our guys that made the decision to water bomb, I was just happy someone did.
Whoever it was, I could kiss them.
We had 5 fires started by lightning after a dry storm 6 weeks ago.
They are all out or close to it; no danger now.
This mountain I look out on is black on top and over it.
The Peppermint Gums, Stringy Barks, Apple trees, Yellow Jackets and White Box that make up the eucalypt forest are dead or dying. They are dull brown or grey now, but they were green giants once.
The black top of the mountain where fire refused to go out. 20/1/2020
Kent gave my husband this patch of his flag to sew on his hi-vis fire suit.
The Canadian ‘firies’ are heading home.
I hope they’re welcomed back as heroes.
Kent and the guys deserve all that and more.
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Immigrants say thank you to Canada
Immigrated from: Liberia
Arrived in Canada: 2015
Thankful for: “I want to say thanks to the Canadians for the free systems that they are giving us, hospital. If you are sick, when you get to the hospital you will get well … these are the things that would never happen in my country.
Here, they took out my tooth, I did not feel pain … The nurses, the doctor, everybody is good. And then I say thanks again because since I come here I didn’t experience any violence. The country is free. The people in the country, they are so lovely. In my country … you see armed men in the streets.
Sometimes the arms will just explode and kill unnecessary people. But Canada is peaceful. I’m so glad of being here.”
Immigrated from: Moldova
Arrived in Canada: 2014
Thankful for: “I am thankful for the nature and the wilderness that I have accessed here in Canada.
I was thinking and wondering in what other country of the world you can be a witness of northern lights, red sand beaches, forests with trees 800 years old or places suitable for agriculture and grapes growing in the Okanagan Valley. All this, just in one country.
Of course, every other country is unique and I am proud to be born in Moldova, but I think that my country lost this culture of preserving pristine places.”
Immigrated from: Palestine
Arrived in Canada: 2012
Thankful for: “As a Palestinian immigrant who has experienced living under risk and danger every day — we lived under bombing, killing — first of all, I’m thankful for being here in Canada, the most peaceful place I have ever seen. I’m thankful that I can raise my children here in a very peaceful place.
I’m also thankful that I’m living with very nice people who always try to make me feel that we are all the same, we are all Canadian … even if we are different colours, different religions, different cultures and different backgrounds.
I’m also thankful that in Canada I will be able to get my citizenship and this makes me feel very secure and loyal to this country.”
Immigrated from: Vietnam
Arrived in Canada: 2014
Thankful for: “One thing I see in Canada is they don’t (discriminate) about the culture, race and gender, because everybody is (free), they can choose the character and the gender they want.
In my country, some people, they are gay or lesbian, they can’t show it and come out … and some people, they (commit) suicide about that. But here, everybody has freedom to show the things they want. When you go outside, you see some people, they just (say) hi, but in my country, no. If you don’t know them, you ignore.
But here, if I don’t know you, but I just say hi, you say hi again (to) me. Yes, I’m thankful about that. It makes me feel confident.”
Immigrated from: China
Arrived in Canada: 2014
Thankful for: “In Canada my thanks is for clean air, the ecosystems and the multicultural society. I can do chores in different seasons in Canada without worrying about the air pollution. I can closely watch wild animals without going to the zoo.
One minute I am having a coffee on the urban street and the next minute I am just walking in the forests or skiing in the mountains. It’s incredible.
So every time when I think about it, it makes me so grateful because in our country it always takes a long trip to see an urban forest or find an artificial ski hill … Living in Canada is living in the United Nations. Every day I meet different people from different countries.”
Immigrated from: China
Arrived in Canada: 2010
Thankful for: “Canada changed my life. When I was in Canada just a half a year, my marriage (broke up) … I don’t have a job, so I’m very scared. I want to give up, I want to go back to China. But my friends told me, it’s OK, Celine. You must learn English, go to school and … looking for a job.
You should support your life in Canada. Then I go to school, learn English. My teacher said, you can go to some school to learn some skills. Then I (went) to beauty school to learn (to be a) beautician. Then I got a job. I’m very happy. I think I can do it and I’m successful.
I’m very thankful to the Canada government, for giving me a new life.”
Immigrated from: Kurdistan, northern Iraq
Arrived in Canada: 2016
Thankful for: “I am thankful to Canada for everything, but especially freedom … especially for me, because I am a woman. In my country if I some dress, short dress . . . I can’t wear it. But in (Canada) you can do everything about dress and talk.
I am a student in university. I have a lot of friends because I am friendly. But when I talk to a male friend (in Kurdistan) … I can’t talk too much because maybe some people look at me, change mind about me, (think) maybe I am a bad girl. But here, have friend, no problem.
I can talk, it’s OK.
Immigrated from: China
Arrived in Canada: 2016
Thankful for: “I’m thankful for three things. First, every Canadian we’ve met is very nice to us … they are always willing to provide help. Second, Canadian society provides a lot of support and free resources to help us. We can take (English) classes soon after we arrive.
We can access libraries and settlement agencies. Third, Canadian society is very considerate of families with kids. When we started the (English) class, our kids can be looked after in daycare … So we are very happy and we are very thankful for all these things.
We will do our best to help others and to contribute to Canadian society.”
Immigrated from: Iran
Arrived in Canada: 2014
Thankful for: “I’m thankful for Canada to support newcomers and to make a peaceful and safe country and to support us. I’m very happy.”
These responses have been edited for length and clarity.
Weaver, Poje take their chances with Thank You Canada tour
The Thank You Canada figure skating tour kicks off in Abbotsford, British Columbia on Friday night, the first stop on a 27-city swing stretching across 11 Canadian provinces and more than 4,500 miles.
Most of the participants, including tour co-producers Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir; Patrick Chan; Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford; and Kaetlyn Osmond, are members of Canada’s gold-medal winning team at the PyeongChang Olympics. They are joined by three-time world champion Elvis Stojko, winner of Olympic silver medals in 1994 and 1998, and Kaitlyn Weaver and Andrew Poje, two-time Canadian ice dance champions and reigning world bronze medalists.
“We’re so lucky as Canadian athletes to have received such support over the years,” Virtue, who also won two individual Olympic ice dance gold medals with Moir, said on CTV’s Your Morning. “This has been on our radar for a long time, to do a tour to sort of give back and say thank you in our own way.”
“The timing feels right, now that we are not doing any amateur skating this season,” Moir added.
The timing is also right for the long-retired Stojko. Chan, and Duhamel and Radford, formally announced their respective retirements from eligible competition soon after the PyeongChang Games. Osmond, the reigning world champion, is not competing this season.
That leaves Weaver and Poje.
The couple is skipping the ISU Grand Prix Series this fall, but plan to return to competition at the 2019 Canadian Figure Skating Championships, held in Saint John, New Brunswick, from January 13-20.
There, they will ly face a fierce battle for the Canadian title with Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier, who bested them at the event last season (though Virtue and Moir won).
Forgoing the chance to compete their programs in front of judges and technical specialists could be a dicey strategy, given the ever-shifting International Judging System (IJS), which had intricate changes to required ice dance elements issued during the off-season. Having just won their first world medal since 2015, Weaver and Poje risk losing some of the momentum they fought so hard to build.
“That’s a very good point and the absolute first thing we thought of,” Weaver, 29, said. “However, momentum is kind of a funny concept, because it’s not really a tangible thing.
We were given this opportunity to tour Canada in 2018 with the Olympic gold medal-winning team. This opportunity now is priceless.
We are going to show our competitive programs on the tour, we’ll be out there many times across the country, so we see this as a definite asset.”
The couple opened their season with a win at the Autumn Classic International in Canada last month. Their programs, including a tango rhythm dance and a free dance to “S.O.S.
d’un terrien en détresse” from the rock opera Starmania – a tribute to their late friend, Denis Ten – were well-received, but as is typical early in the season some of their element levels needed improvement.
“We really wanted to push ourselves to come to (Autumn Classic) and get what we needed for feedback, and now we have three months before our next competition to really develop the programs,” Poje, 31, said. “But going out on tour and performing (the programs) every night is really a great asset for us. Instead of performing them only three times maybe in a (fall) season, we perform them many times.”
Weaver and Poje won the Grand Prix Final in 2015 and 2016, and then went on to place fifth and third, respectively, at the world championships. Last season, they failed to qualify for the Grand Prix Final after placing second and fourth at their Grand Prix events.
“We won the Grand Prix Final twice, we’ve not made it countless times, it really has no bearing on the rest of the season most times,” Weaver said. “You win some, you lose some. You still need to bring it when you need it.”
“We figured, if we have a great product, let’s get out early, let’s put our feet down and say, ‘We’re not going anywhere,’” she added. “We’re going to build our repertoire in a different way (on tour), as well as live in a different way and then come back to competition.”
Plenty of practice time, including regular consults with ice dance technical specialists, is part of the program.
“We will not be dilly-dallying, we are very, very organized,” Weaver said. “This presents a unique challenge for us, one we’ve never done before, I don’t know if anyone has ever done it before.
We’ve scheduled our down time with (technical) callers, with our coaches. The producers of the show know we are competitors and that is our main goal, so it’s a give-and-take with the show.
It’s a risk, but it’s one we are ready and excited for.”
As a reminder, you can watch the ISU Grand Prix Series live and on-demand with the ‘Figure Skating Pass’ on NBC Sports Gold. Go to NBCsports.
com/gold/figure-skating to sign up for access to every ISU Grand Prix and championship event, as well as domestic U.S. Figure Skating events throughout the season.
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