A Brazilian tourist has discovered what Winnipeggers already know: Winnipeg is a truly unique city that "can only be in Canada."
Danielle Bruzzi penned a letter to the Winnipeg Free Press comparing her visit in December with a recent visit to Vancouver.
"Vancouver is spectacular, a cosmopolitan city that can be anywhere," she wrote. "I had a great stay there, I visited really breathtaking places.
"Then I came to Winnipeg. Winnipeg is what comes to mind when we think of Canada. Cold — just the weather — and how cold it is. But the people are so friendly, so polite … you do not even remember the cold.
"My stay in Winnipeg was perfect," she continued. "Remember I said that Vancouver is a city that can be anywhere? Winnipeg can only be in Canada. I cannot imagine this wonderful city anywhere else in the world. Winnipeg is Canada. For real. I was heartbroken to leave."
The letter made waves on social media, with a picture of the letter being seen more than 50,000 times, according to a user on Twitter.
On Friday morning I tweeted out a letter from the Wpg Free Press that @bruzzi_danielle from #Brazil wrote on her visit to Canada ,well the tweet has had over 50,500 views! Unbelievable ! #Canada @WinnipegNews @Mayor_Bowman @ScottGillingham #winnipeg pic.twitter.com/f7BzUVwiX9— @thesawch
Reached by phone at her home in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, Bruzzi said she had no idea her letter would be so well received.
"It started as a post on Facebook. I shared it only with my friends, and they read it and they said, 'Oh, this is so cool. Why don't you share it so more people can read about it, people really think that stuff about Winnipeg. People would really like to see your point of view, a different point of view.'"
After sending the post to the newspaper, people started reaching out to Bruzzi to invite her back, she said.
"People texted me on Facebook and Instagram, too, and people were sharing me links to where the post was, and I've seen it in Reddit. It was mostly really positive responses and that just confirmed what I thought about Winnipeggers."
Her city, Belo Horizonte, is Brazil's third-largest and, much like Winnipeg, people don't think of her hometown when they come to visit the country, she says.
That might be why the city reacted so warmly to her letter.
"I travel a lot, and sometimes people don't really care about you when you're a tourist," Bruzzi said. "They're like 'Oh, another tourist here.' But Winnipeg, I felt really welcome there. I can't really explain. I felt so warm, the reception, that that's what I meant about 'you don't really remember the cold' because people are so warm."
While she was here, Bruzzi visited both the Canadian Museum for Human Rights and the Manitoba Museum, praising both for their beauty and for telling the story of the province.
But what she loved most was the food.
"Lots of people told me, 'Oh, restaurants in Winnipeg, they are something, and it's true. I loved the food.
"The first thing I had was a hot dog, a really big hot dog — loved it — at The Forks. And I had some Icelandic cake [vinarterta] too, which was delicious."
Love letter to love song
Joshua Letkeman was so impressed with Bruzzi's letter that he wrote and recorded a song called My Winter Home within 12 hours.
"[I was inspired by] the love she had for the city and the kind words she said, but especially how she said … there could only be one Winnipeg in Canada, but there could be many Vancouvers in the world.
"It just struck a chord with me and tugged at my heartstrings, you know?"
Winnipeg's reputation for cold, mosquitoes and crime wears on people, Letkeman says, calling his relationship with the city "love-dislike."
The song reflects his conflicting feelings for the city, with lyrics including: Part of the time we are cursing your name / we're just putting our sadness and sorrow and blame on you / If I ended up somewhere else living my dream / I'd still crawl back to you.
Those lyrics, near the end of the song, are his favourite part of the tune, Letkeman says. "I just like that senitiment."
Bruzzi called the song beautiful: "Really sincere and genuine, and I'm really glad that that letter inspired someone to do something that great for Winnipeg."