Family life

This is Canada: What parenting looks like from coast to coast

From a an all-skateboarder crew in Calgary to a multigenerational household in Toronto to a single mom in Montreal, here are our favourite pics of Canadian families doing what they do best—being awesome at being themselves.

This is Canada: What parenting looks like from coast to coast

Photo: Batoul

From an all-skateboarder crew in Calgary to a multigenerational household in Toronto to a single mom and her kids in Montreal, here are our favourite pics of Canadian families doing what they do best—being awesome at being themselves!

Montreal, Quebec Our family: Nicki Tatola, son Seve James, 9½, and daughter Nia Leance, 7½

a mom and her son and daughter dressed up and walking down the street pose for a photo Photos: Nicki Tatola

Can you tell us about these pictures? Nicki: This picture was taken in Trinidad, where we were visiting my mom’s family. I like it because I have very few photos with the three of us because I’m always taking the pictures! It’s also cute that we’re all dressed up for my uncle's 70th birthday party.

nicki's son seve on his first day of school

This was the first day of school last year. Seve was excited about seeing his friends and his new haircut, and he had been begging me for those soccer shoes all summer. When I finally caved, we learned that his size was men’s, not boys’, so they cost even more. The bonus is that I can wear them, too!

brother and sister play by the pool


This is at the local pool. Summer camp was over, and I was on vacation. We just hung out at the park and rode bikes for two weeks. It was so relaxing! The only questions we had to think about were “Should we have a picnic?” and “Should we take a ball or the bikes to the park?” So much fun!

a little girl is playing baseball

This picture is my girl, two summers ago. I grew up as one of the only girls on the boys’ basketball team, so I taught Nia at a young age—four years old, I think—that girls can play anything boys can and that the only way to compete is to be tough and brave. As girls, a lot of times we don’t get the ball passed to us in sports, so I told her that she has to practice twice as much as the boys so that she can steal it when she’s on defense. That way, she won’t rely on the boys!

What's the most challenging thing about raising a family? There isn’t enough time. I’m alone with them, so I’m constantly telling them what needs to be done and rushing them. I must sound like a crazy person! That’s why we do la grasse matinée, which just means to chill out, on one day of the weekend. We do this every Saturday before we go to swimming lessons and do groceries.

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? The most Canadian experience is very Montrealaise. I was at the doctor’s office, waiting for my daughter to have a checkup, when she was about five. A younger girl came to talk to her first in French. My daughter responded in French, but the girl noticed her accent and asked if she speaks English. My daughter said, “Yes, I speak English and Spanish.” (She takes classes at school.) The girl, who must have been around four, said, “Only three languages? I speak four!” I was laughing so much.


What's your favourite thing about living in Canada? My favorite thing about being Canadian is multiculturalism. My kids are comfortable in their own skin, and they’re a mix of Indian, African, Scottish and British and have friends from all over the world! They know there’s such a thing as racism, but I don’t think they will experience it the way I did growing up in the Prairies, where you’re either black, white or First Nations. We were beige, and that was weird.

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Our family: Grandma Monica Goulet, mom Sasha and daughters Ava, 9, and Nahla, 5

a family on a fishing boat together Photos: Sasha Goulet


Can you tell us about these pictures?
Sasha: We’re a Cree Metis family. Growing up in northern Saskatchewan, fishing was a cultural pastime and an economic necessity. It was wonderful to be able to share this experience with my family.

two girls fishing on the back of a boat

Monica: This is the first time the girls ever fished with me and Sasha. It was hilarious because I snagged a big jackfish. We were just in a small paddleboat and there was a dip between the two girls, who were seated at the back. I reeled in the jackfish and tried to put it in the dip. It started flopping around like crazy and freaked both girls out!

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family?
Sasha: Our favourite family activity is definitely camping, and it’s also our most Canadian experience. We do it every year.

What's your favourite thing about living in Canada?
Sasha: My favourite thing about living in Canada is the wilderness. We take advantage of our summers and explore quite a bit. I also love winter! We live in a condo, so we don’t have to shovel, but we have a lot of fun outside making snowmen and snow angels, and the girls love sledding.


Monica: For me, it’s been extremely important to raise my children and my grandchildren to be proud of their indigenous ancestry. I experienced a great deal of racism growing up and still do from time to time because I’m identifiably aboriginal. I don’t think my children or grandchildren have been targeted because they look white. They’ve been raised to be friends with children from many different cultures. I think that’s very important.

Novar, Ontario Family: Dad David Clemmer, papa Stéphane Aubin, merère (grandmother) Pauline Aubin, perère (grandfather) Rene Arthur Aubin and Frances “Frankie’ Renée Aubin Clemmer, 1.5

Where do you live? We live in a lovely house on Mirage Lake with two miniature dachshunds, one chihuahua, one peacock, 12 chickens, eight quails, 12 budgies and a turtle named Fred. And my in-laws live next door in a pied-à-terre.

a premature baby rests on the chest of her father Photo: David Clemmer


Can you tell us about these pictures? David: This picture of Frankie with Stéphane melts our heart. Frankie was born one month premature, and we barely made it to the hospital before this little ball of wonder entered the world and changed our lives forever.

She instantly loved skin-on-skin cuddle time with her dads, and she still does.

a father and daughter laugh both with pigtails

This pictures makes us smile so much! We were in Puerto Vallarta Mexico having a little family vacay and finishing a swim on the rooftop pool. Frankie loves to get her hair brushed while getting dressed and will bring her brush over when she wants it done (or redone if I do it). Stéphane is a much more talented “hair” dad than I am. We were both being a bit silly before heading for lunch, and she wanted to brush my hair and give me a ponytail, too. Neither of us has much hair to work with, but we managed to wear our new looks proudly on our daddy lunch date.

a father and daughter laugh together


This photo of Papa and Frankie captures my happy babies, both big and small. They both love to smile, and Frankie is showing off her new teeth. She still touches her teeth in amazement and then stares at ours and touches ours as well. It’s almost as if she puts together how similar we are.

A father carries baby in a carrier at an outdoor picnic

We take Frankie with us everywhere. She is such a good baby, and we want to help socialize her in all situations. We were invited to our friends’ barnyard barbecue, so we packed up the family. The food, the company and the family fun we had—it was amazing! Frankie got to see pigs, cows and horses—animals we don’t have, thank goodness!

What's the most challenging thing about raising a family? Scheduling is the most challenging thing. We each run a company 2½ hours away. During the week, I’m at Judy Inc in Toronto, (David owns Judy Inc, an international artist management agency) and I spend weekends up north. Frankie is with me for two weeks of the month and up north with Stéphane for the other two weeks (Stéphane runs the Northridge Inn & Resort). It’s the best when we’re all together on weekends. Even if we have lots going on, as long as we’re together, we’re golden. It’s quality over quantity—at least in the summer months, when both businesses are booming.

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? We bought a resort in North Muskoka on Lake Bernard called The Northridge Inn 2½ years ago. It has been a labour of love preparing it for our guests. Spending time there with Frankie and our family lets us experience the best this country has to offer. We all swim, fish and hike and, while doing so, we’re surrounded by amazing Canadian rock formations. The picturesque views and sunsets are something out of a coffee table book. It’s an incredible place to teach Frankie about nature and how we need to respect it. We love this country and want to do what we can to help preserve it for her generation and future generations to come.


What's your favourite thing about living in Canada? We love living in a country that celebrates all seasons. We love snowshoeing, skiing, puddle jumping, watching flowers bloom in the spring, swimming, canoeing, going on long hikes in the summer, watching the leaves change colour in the fall, relaxing in front of an outdoor fire and watching the sunset while making s’mores.

Airdrie, Alberta Our family: Dad Navdeep Ghali (deceased), mom Simaran Pandher-Ghali and daughters Aradhana, 2½, and Navaiyah, 1½

a baby holds their father's finger for the first time Photo: Simmie Pinder-Ghal

Can you tell us about these pictures?
Simaran: This is moments after Aradhana was born. Nav was enamoured with Ara within seconds of her birth.

a father holds his new child beneath the portrait of his father Photo: Colleen Gara Photography

This is Nav and Ara during our newborn shoot. Nav was very close to his father, Gurbax, and wanted to incorporate him into the shoot with his pictures in the background. It was very emotional for Nav to be a new dad without his own father being there to experience it with him. Nav was extremely proud of his princess and to be the father of a daughter. Ara was born after four grandsons, so she was a big deal in the family. Nav strived to carry his father’s legacy in any way he could, and our second daughter is Gurbax Navaiyah, named after her paternal grandfather, a tribute to her father’s hero.

A mother and her children at a photoshoot wrapped in their late father's hoodie Photo: Mila Boekestyn/Milashka Photography

This is from the newborn shoot for Navaiyah, and Nav’s presence (Nav passed away from a Stage IV peritoneal carcinomatosis on February 4th, 2017 when Simaran was 24 weeks pregnant) was represented everywhere. We wore hoodies during our engagement photos, so we wore the same hoodies during Ara’s newborn photo shoot and incorporated the same hoodies into Nava’s newborn photo shoot to continue our story. We are very relaxed and simple people, and we love—and live in—hoodies. These are our favourite ones, so it’s only natural that they join us on this life journey. After losing Nav, my girls are the reason I breathe, the reason I function each day and the reason I can still see beauty in this life. Nav’s mission in life was to make the world a better place, one tiny act at a time. We’ll continue his legacy as we create our own together as Nav’s girls—the Ghali Girls.

What's the most challenging thing about raising a family? The most challenging part is now raising my girls as a single mother, going from making plans as a loving two-parent household to only having myself to rely on and hoping that I’m making the choices my spouse would have wanted. I miss the love of my life with every fibre of my being, but I don’t want my children to feel the gap of the missing parent. That has been the most challenging thing this year.


What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? The most Canadian moment we experience as a family is our dedication to Tim Hortons. Tims was where we had our first date and our place that we went to during good times and bad times. We took wedding photos there! It’s always in our hands and our cars. It’s the last thing we grab before boarding a flight and the first thing we grab getting off a flight. We walked all over New York to get our fix of Tim Hortons. We travel with it so we can always have a cup while on vacation. We love Tims!

What's your favourite thing about living in Canada? For both of us, Canada is home. It is where our parents came and built a life from nothing. The diversity, the opportunities that are present in Canada that aren’t present elsewhere. We both grew up on streets that were a majority of immigrant families. Our parents came here, leaving all they had so we could have a better life and not have to toil so hard because it gives us the luxury of education and unlimited opportunities to grow and succeed in anything we choose. Canada is the freedom to be the best you can be.

Lumsden, Sasktatchewan Our family: Dad Cal Nugent, mom Nicolle and daughters Noa, 9, and Cate, 6

a little girl plays with her pony Photos: Carey Shaw Photography

Can you tell us about these pictures? This is Noa giving some extra love to her pony, Willow. Trixie is coming over to get in on the action!

a little girl and her dad feed a pony a carrot

This is Cal and Cate feeding Trixie a carrot.

a mother and her daughters examine berries in the valley

This is Nicolle and the girls investigating local plants and fall growth in the valley. These pictures depict our favorite aspects of living in the valley. There’s always something to do outside and different discoveries to make as the seasons change.


What's the most challenging thing about raising a family? Having enough time to spend together. As the girls grow, they get busier, so our family gets busier. Living outside of the city allows us to slow down and get those extra hours together.

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? The most Canadian thing our family experiences is our yearly camping trips. We love to camp in the Cypress Hills, surrounded by lodge pole forests. Family bike rides, walks through the pines with our dog and roasting marshmallows—that’s Canada to us.

Ottawa, Ontario Our family: Dad Ali, mom Batoul and Hayat, 5 months

a mother holds her baby in a carrier Photos: Ali & Batoul

Can you tell us about these pictures? Ali: This picture was taken in Cape Town, South Africa, on a trip we recently took there. Hayat was an absolute star! Everyone who walked by and saw her stopped to ooh and aah at her. She had just woken up from one of her short catnaps and, being her curious self, starting peeping through to see what was around here.

a baby smiles on her father's lap while he is fast asleep

This was taken after a night where Hayat stayed up until an ungodly hour and decided she wanted to walk around at 7 a.m. on a Saturday morning. She was decidedly bubbly in the morning—slightly more so than her dad! Ali is completely gutted from a night of no sleep, courtesy of Hayat, but she is all smiles. It’s a really wonderful depiction of what parenting is all about. It’s a mixture of self-sacrifice, heartwarming pride and a commitment to the daily grind (evidenced by the laundry around us), but in the end, we just love this photo because of her. She is infectiously happy, and her cuteness is clearly immeasurable. Pure awesomeness.

a mother walks her baby in a stroller at the park

This was taken in Doha, Qatar, in one of the city’s few public parks. It was sweltering.


What's your favourite family activity? Travelling and brunch. As you can see from these three pictures, two of the three were taken outside of Canada. Hayat is in for a lifetime of adventure. We love to travel because it’s how we truly learn and feel inspired. It’s about meeting new people, understanding what their lives are all about and seeking to steal a bit of wisdom from every corner of the globe. Hopefully, Hayat is going to play a big part in this journey. Brunch is a close second to travel. There’s nothing more relaxing than eating a nice breakfast on a patio and having the rest of the day ahead of you.

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? It was only a few days after our daughter was born, but it was a very “family” moment. Ali went to pick up a crib from a friend who lived deep in the woods of Quebec. He was forewarned not to drive too far up the driveway for fear of getting stuck. Well, he did drive up a little too far and got stuck—and spent the next five hours trying to get out. The tow trucks he called couldn’t get there due to the heavy snowfall—typical of an Ottawa winter. Then when he got home and unpacked the crib, he noticed he had forgotten the screws.

Nelson, British Columbia Our family: Dad Gabe Sawatzky, mom Amanda Harris, sons Jack, 7½, and Sailor, 5½, grandparents Keith and Kathy Harris and grandmother Cyndy Sawatzky

Where do you live? Amanda: We’re building a house just outside of Nelson, on the same property I was born. We live beside my parents—they gave us a chunk of property. They were part of the back-to-the-land movement that happened in the late ’60s and early ’70s in this area. They’ve been here for almost 50 years. Land was cheap back then.


Two brothers playing around in the nude Photos: Amanda Harris

Can you tell us about these pictures? Gabe: They would always be naked if they could. This picture is of them being themselves.

two brothers covered in mud

Amanda: This happened while I was trying to reupholster the interior of a car and I wasn’t paying attention to what they were doing. I don’t think I could have or would have stopped them—they were having too much fun. This doesn’t really capture how much mud was on them—we had to hose them down outside. I remember doing the same thing when I was young and I lost a lot of rubber boots in the same swamp. I love that our kids are wild.

a little boy sitting by a waterfall

Amanda: This picture of Jack was taken last Canada Day, just outside of New Denver, B.C., in a place called Wilson Falls. We hiked in and when we came around the corner, this waterfall was so powerful that you could feel the pressure of the water vibrating in your chest. I was too scared to climb up to the edge, but Jack sat up there for a long time, deep in thought. I remember this moment, and I was scared and in awe.

a little boy doing a craft

Amanda: This is in my upholstery room, which I converted to a home-schooling room. We use a lot of glue.

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family?
Amanda: We have a moose that lives in the swamp above where the mud fight took place. It charged my Dad and brother. We have a mom and two baby grizzlies that come down to our backyard and eat the grass in spring.


Gabe: Hiking four hours up to Jumbo Glacier with our family and friends, hitting a snowstorm and having to turn around, and then hiking down for three hours with a four-year-old and a six-year-old.

What’s your favourite thing about living in Canada?
Amanda: Healthcare! Just this week, I brought Sailor to the emergency room because he was coughing and couldn’t catch his breath. It became extremely serious very fast. We stayed in the ICU for two nights and three days and made two more trips to his family doctor. This all happened over the past five days. It was pneumonia and an asthma attack, and it was the scariest day of my life. The emergency team of doctors and nurses was amazing! I’m very thankful for our healthcare.

Oakville, Ontario Our family: Dad Carlo Mendoza, mom Laurie and sons Liam, 7, and Jamie, 5

a little boy with ice cream on his face Photos: Carlo Mendoza

Can you tell us about these pictures? Carlo: This is Liam when he was two. After eating his favourite food, ice cream, he wanted more. Because of the look on his face, he probably got some!

a mother and her son touch foreheads

This is a picture of Laurie with Liam on a swing in our backyard, moments before Laurie gave him a kiss.

two brothers playing in a barn

This is Jamie watching Liam jump off the second level on to the mats at the play barn at Bronte Provincial Park. We try to spend some time hiking around the park and visiting the animals. Even when we think they’re too tired for the play barn, they always perk up and find the energy.

two brothers on a trampoline

Jamie and Liam are jumping on a trampoline in our backyard. They go on the trampoline almost every chance they get.

What's the most challenging thing about raising a family? The most challenging thing about raising two young boys is focusing their energy so that they don’t get too out of control. It really is amazing how much good energy they have. All they want to do is learn and move—constantly.

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? I think that one of the most “Canadian” things we do is that we’re outside no matter what the weather. We’ve gone camping and hiking in the sun, rain and snow. We ride our bikes in the winter. With the different weather in all four seasons, we’re always ready to do anything outside.

What's your favourite thing about living in Canada? The best part about living in Canada is the cultural diversity and acceptance we have here. As a second-generation Canadian in a mixed-race marriage with two adopted boys of different ethnicities, we’re not your traditional family, but no one has ever made us feel otherwise.


Vancouver, British Columbia Our family: Dad Stephen Wilde, mom Jessie Teng and son Edward, 9

a boy after biking Photos: Stephen Wilde

Can you tell us about these pictures?
Stephen: We’re extremely fortunate to live within biking distance (on a nice day!) or a short drive from Pacific Spirit Park in Vancouver. Pacific Spirit Regional Park is an 874-hectare park located in the University Endowment Lands and is a forest oasis. This is Ed after a perfectly rainy, muddy ride. I love the exhaustion yet satisfaction of getting out in the mud on the bike portrayed here.

a boy biking

Ed in action on the trails at Pacific Spirit Regional Park. Besides baseball, riding is Ed’s passion.

a boy and mom playing connect four

This is one of the many Connect Four games that Ed wins while camping in Big Bob, our 1973 Ford motorhome.

a boy and his mom having breakfast


Pancakes and bacon with Jessie and Ed—the perfect way to start a day of adventures in Big Bob.

What's your favourite family activity? Edward is an avid baseball player, which has led to many hours spent at the diamond as a spectator, field worker, assistant coach, picture taker, parent, knee icer, scrape patcher, water getter and sun-shade holder. Besides baseball, we’re campers. We love the smell of clothing filled with that campfire aroma!

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? Ed and I watching as Jessie was sworn in as a Canadian citizen during a Canada Day celebration at Fort Langley Park, B.C.

What's your favourite thing about living in Canada? It wouldn’t matter which region, province, city, endless stretch of road, shoreline, small village or forest, Canada inspires a sense of adventure and exploration unequalled in all of my lifelong travels.


Steinbach, Manitoba Our family: Dad Chris Freund, mom Lisa Cichelly and son Julien, 7

a boy snowshoing Photos: Lisa Cichelly

Can you tell us about these pictures?
Lisa: We live on several acres of a Christmas tree farm, and snowshoeing is one of my favourite solo activities. Julien decided to accompany me this time, so I let him use my snowshoes and I used his father’s. Since these are so big on him, he didn’t last long before we had to turn around, but at least he tried!

boy and father run on beach


Last July, we took our first family holiday in six years. We went for broke and went to Legoland and Disneyland in California. Julien and Chris ran from the waves for an hour and were soaked by the time we went back to the hotel. This holiday taught us a valuable life lesson: Take more holidays!

a boy being held at pride

We’re at Steinbach’s first Pride Parade. Steinbach is a very conservative and highly religious town, and Chris and I are secular and not conservative. It’s important to me to raise Julien with our values: acceptance, freedom and love for all. Cars were lined up down the highway for 10 kilometres as people tried to get into Steinbach for the inaugural event. On the way home afterwards, I asked Julien what he’d learned at the Pride Parade and he said, “Love is love, and we should love all people.” I had tears in my eyes. Mom win!

a boy walks alone in the woods

This was taken in our backyard on the Christmas tree farm. Julien almost always brings a stick on our walks to fight dragons, be a ninja and play in the creek.


What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? We were doing our favourite hike in Kenora, the Tunnel Island Hike, and a local was hiking with his dog. He gave Julien a big speech about the history of Kenora and passed him a rock from his pocket and told him it was an ancient scraping tool, used by aboriginal people on caribou hides. It felt very Canadian to get such a cool gift from a stranger in the Canadian Shield.

Whitehorse, Yukon Territory Our family: Dad Gabriel Ellis, mom Amanda Bartle and daughters Kaya, 4, and Aloe, 1

a family riding in a tuk tuk Photos: Gabriel Ellis

Can you tell us about these pictures?
Gabriel: We really value travel and jumped at the opportunity to take the kids to Thailand on our parental leave. We all piled into this colourful tuk tuk on the streets of Chiang Mai in northern Thailand. Kaya loved the freedom of riding with the wind blowing through her hair. “Faster, faster!” she would shout at the tuk tuk driver. “I’m flying!”

a little girl in a field picking flowers

We have a cabin two hours south of Whitehorse in Atlin, British Columbia. Every summer, we love going down and spending time with the kids outside. The family-friendly Atlin Music Festival in July is definitely a highlight. The flowers in Atlin in spring are amazing, and Kaya loves picking them for her mom.

a little girl exploring the forest

Walking in the forest is one of our favourite family activities. Aloe loves her independence and always tries to run off. Sometimes when we’re walking on a path that is straight and narrow, she’ll flip the script and her cavalier attitude will kick in. She’ll go all ‘into the wild’ by going into the bush by herself.

What's your favourite family activity? After walking through the woods, we like to sit in the hot tub and curl up by a crackling wood fire with a cup of hot cocoa and read Cuddles the Cow for, like, the millionth time.


What's the most challenging thing about raising a family? Infant car seats. Breaking your already-broken back trying to put them in and cleaning all the small crevices with a toothbrush once they’ve been puked on and, at the same time, being thankful that you’re not on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere at –40 in the winter—like last time.

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? One summer, our entire family came out to the cabin in Atlin for a week of wood fires, cold-lake swimming, hot springs, barbecues, saunas, fishing, canoeing and biking, but the first night was full of drama because a bat flew in through the cabin window. We tried sheets and nets to try to get it out without waking up the kids or contracting rabies. When we finally succeeded, “Courage” by the Tragically Hip was playing in the background.

What's your favourite thing about living in Canada? Waking up to a loon swimming across a quiet lake while sipping an old-school hand-frothed latte in a hanging hammock chair before digging into a plate of pancakes covered in maple syrup with the entire family around the table.

Toronto, Ontario Our family: Dad Chansa Kalunga, mom Kate Wilson and sons Imaani, 6½, and Arlo, 15 months


two brothers playing with each other Photos: Kate Wilson

Can you tell us about these pictures?
Kate: This shows a typical weekend morning, where we all end up in the same bed and the boys interact with each other. I love to watch them develop a relationship. There are five years between them, but they connected quickly and adore each other. They continue to have almost daily moments like this. I wanted this for Imaani—to have a good friend in his sibling—but seeing it play out has been pretty heartwarming.

a young boy with cerebral palsy plays soccer in a gym

Imaani is doing a drill at his adapted soccer program. Imaani is a bit of a sports fan, but he increasingly asks to not only be a spectator but play too. Imaani has cerebral palsy. This is the first sport he played and the first time we’ve been involved with something like this. He plays hard each week. There may have been a time when he was younger when I wouldn’t have thought this was possible, but here he is playing soccer and now he’s starting to play baseball. It’s really neat to see a kid’s dream come true.


What's the most challenging thing about raising a family? There are a few challenges, but they just seem to be part of the gig, so you adapt. With the birth of Arlo, we’re trying to widen the scope a bit and not get so caught up in day-to-day routines. For Imaanis’s early years, a lot of time was spent at appointments related to his disability. There are still appointments, but we want to open up our lives. That could be taking a simple overnight road trip that will hopefully lead to bigger trips and more travel or seeking out new classes and activities that Imaani can try besides therapy, like soccer, baseball and robotics.

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? This year, we attended a Toronto FC game with toques, gloves and blankets while the players were running around in shorts. Other fans had snowpants on. It was technically spring, but it was a really cold night. We hung in as long as we could because it was our first Toronto FC game. Oh, and we eat a lot of maple syrup—like, a lot.

What's your favourite thing about living in Canada? Imaani says he likes Canada because Canada is where home is. With Imaani’s extra healthcare needs, I think being in Canada has made a huge difference. We’ve been able to access many resources with little to no cost. Not being saddled with medical bills has been really important. Instead, we can focus on raising a family and make sure our kids get what they need while giving them other opportunities.

Calgary, Alberta Our family:Dad Carl White, mom Tabetha, daughter Siena, 13, and son Pthaylo, 10


a family on a snowboard lift Photos: Carl & Tabetha White

Can you tell us about these pictures?
Carl: This is me, Tabetha and Siena riding the chairlift at Sunshine Mountain. We’re all avid snowboarders. I’m a snowboard instructor from the first wave of snowboarding in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Our first date was snowboarding, and now both kids are on the Riders on Board snowboard team all winter long. Families who shred together stay together!

a family on a skateboard trip

We took a family skateboard tour of Southern California, hitting two or three parks every day, including straight from the airport to the Venice Beach skate park. No Disney, no rides—just skating every day was heaven. To watch my kids drop into an 11-foot-deep bowl in the heart of California among pros and legends with confidence was an inspiration to an old dog like myself.

a young girl skateboarding at a ramp

Siena skating the vertical bowl at a local skate park. Siena skates with an all-girls skateboard club called 100% Skateboard Club that was created to empower girls young and old to get out and mix it up with the boys at #girlswhoshred!

What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? Christmas in the mountains, snowflakes gently falling and pine trees heavy with blankets of snow—a special quiet that has to be experienced.

Montreal, Quebec Our family: Dad Martin Gravel, mom Tracey Steer, son Oliver, 13½, and daughter Ava, 9½


a family is walking down the street together Photos: Tracey Steer

Can you tell us about these pictures?
Tracey: We had just finished walking my aunt and uncle back to their hotel on the last day of their stay in town. We continued walking down Sherbrooke Street together, chatting happily. It was a nice day, but in the world they look different to me, and I can actually see how much they’ve grown when we’re out on the street.

A family hugging at the dinner table

This is Oliver’s 13th birthday dinner at home. We ordered sushi, which is always the children’s celebratory dinner choice. We were just saying how much we loved him, and we all started hugging.


What's the most “Canadian” moment you’ve experienced as a family? We feel pretty Canadian when we drive Grandpa’s ATV into the woods at the cottage over to the neighbouring sugar shack and come back with a dozen cans of maple syrup. We’ll makeshift a cabane à sucre and cook a big breakfast with French toast, berries, sausages and eggs. Later, we’ll boil some syrup and pour it over a panful of snow to eat—it’s called tire d’érable.

What's your favourite thing about living in Canada? We feel entirely free to be who we are. We’re proud Canadians! (And we’re glad that we don’t live in the United States—especially these days.)

Ulukhaktok, Northwest Territories Our family: Dad Duncan Marsh, mom Kelly, grandmother Marion Duncan and daughters Elizabeth, 2½, and Marion, six months

a father and daughter walk in a marshy field Photos: Duncan Marsh

Can you tell us about these pictures? Elizabeth and her daddy stop during a quad ride on land to jump in muddy puddles! Elizabeth’s favourite TV character is Peppa Pig, who always jumps in muddy puddles, so now she gets to jump in muddy puddles, too.

a little girl sits in a snowsuit on the ice

Elizabeth is playing on the frozen lake during a Ski-Doo ride with her mom and dad. This lake is called Father’s Lake, where many people in the community go to get ice for drinks during the winter months. This picture demonstrates just how relaxed our life is in the North. Not a care in the world and lots of time to just relax on the ice.

a little girl flies a kite in the winter in a snowy field


Elizabeth is flying her kite while taking advantage of the frequent winds we have off the Beaufort Sea. This was Elizabeth’s first time flying her kite and she was absolutely beside herself—she was so excited! I also love that there is a dog team on the frozen sea captured in the background of the picture.

What’s your favourite family activity? Going on quad and Ski-Doo adventures out on the land.

 What’s the most challenging thing about raising a family? The two most challenging things about raising a family in an isolated community in the North are dealing with the cost of living and adapting to the environment. We have to order many things online. If we can get what we need at the store, it usually costs double or triple what it would cost down south. The winters are cold and dark. At times we can’t go outside because the temperature drops to –50, and it’s even colder than that with the windchill. We have 24 hours of darkness for a few months in winter and 24 hours of daylight in summer.

 What’s your favourite thing about living in Canada? Being able to experience so many places with such drastic differences while staying in our beautiful country. Some of the differences we’ve experienced are living in places with and without trees, having 24 hours of daylight and darkness, living right by the ocean and living inland, and living in communities where we drive cars, trucks, quads and Ski-Doos.

This article was originally published on Jun 29, 2017

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