British Columbia

'Cold cotton falling from the sky': A new immigrant shares his first experience with the white stuff

A man who fled the violence of his African country with his family encountered snow for the first time in Victoria this week. He says he has now seen the "real Canada."

A Congolese immigrant says he has seen the 'real Canada' after encountering snow in Victoria

Faustin Bameni Wavedila and his daughter, Samuella Lilas Wavedila, were excited to have their first picture taken in the snow. (CBC/Jean Paetkau)

It's like white rain.

That's how a new Canadian immigrant describes snow after seeing and touching it for the first time in Victoria this week. 

It's been more than 10 years since Faustin Bameni Wavedila fled the violence of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

He arrived in B.C. with his family almost seven months ago, but it took a severe cold snap to bring the white stuff to the usually green capital city. 

Wavedila says he and his family were very surprised and excited to see snow falling on Sunday evening outside their new home. 

"I heard some funny noise, things knocking on my windows," Wavedila said.

The new immigrant describes calling his family to the window before they all headed outside. 

Faustin Bameni Wavedila and his family spent more than a decade living in Namibia after fleeing the violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. (Faustin Bameni Wavedila)

"We were all excited, going down the road. We went up to see what this snow was about. Even the flowers we always see is green, it's suddenly become white." 

Wavedila says he was very surprised by the softness of snow, expecting it to be hard and icy. 

"It's like cold cotton falling from the sky," Wavedila said.

Wavedila's daughter, Samuella Lilas Wavedila, was also excited to make snowballs. 

The 11-year-old, who was born in Namibia, says she had only previously seen snow in American movies. Samuella took part in her first snowman-building contest at school on Monday. 

"Mine obviously failed and fell down," Samuella said with a smile. 

After experiencing snow for the first time, Faustin Bameni Wavedila and his daughter, Samuella Lilas Wavedila, now realize that gloves may be needed for life in the usually green Victoria. (CBC/Jean Paetkau )

She was also surprised at the coldness of snow, but this didn't prevent her from pelting her father with snowballs. 

"You can throw it at people without hurting them," Samuella said. 

Having experienced snow for the first time with his family, Wavedila says he has now seen the "real Canada."

"This is the Canada we were dreaming about." 

And he adds that knowing that his daughter can walk safely to school alone is also part of the miracle of their new home. 

"We've been saved from war," Wavedila said, "This is the greatest place I've seen in my life." 


Jean Paetkau

Associate producer, CBC Victoria

Jean Paetkau is an award-winning writer who works as an associate producer for CBC Victoria. Her work includes writing for digital, TV, radio and print.