Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Vince Fedoroff

APPRECIATING A VAST COUNTRY – ‘Coming from Europe, it will really blow your mind,’ new Canadian Michal Janus said of his long highway trip through Ontario’s forest country.

Yukoner gains citizenship with pride, gratitude

A new Yukon resident received his Canadian citizenship on Wednesday in a virtual ceremony.

By Whitehorse Star on July 3, 2020

A new Yukon resident received his Canadian citizenship on Wednesday in a virtual ceremony.

“I feel very lucky that I have an opportunity to become Canadian on Canada Day; it’ll make it that much more special,” Michal Janus said Tuesday afternoon.

Janus received his citizenship in a Zoom ceremony after living in Canada for about 10 years.

Janus told the Star about the serendipitous circumstance that brought him to Canada and the reasons he is proud to be newly Canadian.

Janus grew up in Makow, Poland. He completed graduate school in Poland and took some time off to travel in 2008. He was hitchhiking in New Zealand when a Canadian picked him up.

“I grew up on the farm, he grew up on the farm, so we got to talking,” Janus said.

“We exchanged email addresses, and he said any time you come to Canada, come and visit me, come to Saskatchewan.”

Janus arrived in Vancouver in the summer of 2008 and travelled across the country by Greyhound bus.

“I was the most surprised the first time I saw the Rockies,” Janus said.

“When you drive through Ontario, the forest is so vast....Coming from Europe, it will really blow your mind.”

He ended up in Kenaston, Sask., the small farming community where John, the man who picked him up in New Zealand, lived.

“Being in a small town community of 300 people, you get to know everyone very quickly,” Janus said.

“I stayed in Saskatchewan way longer than I originally planned.”

While on John’s farm, Janus befriended a group of university students and travelled to Saskatoon with them. He left for Europe shortly afterwards, but returned to the University of Saskatchewan as a student a year later.

“You think studying abroad is going to be a cool thing, but mostly it was just hard working in libraries and more libraries,” Janus said.

“It’s hard to do a master’s degree in a foreign language; it’s not walking in the park with a dog, that’s for sure.”

After completing his master’s degree in Saskatoon in 2011, Janus worked in the Saskatchewan mining industry for nine years.

When the mine where he was employed closed, Janus decided to relocate to the Yukon. He moved to Whitehorse on May 31.

“I thought it’d be quite an adventure: the last great wilderness in the world,” Janus said.

“It’s so cool here; I’m driving my car and I look up and there’s a bald eagle flying right above my car….Where else can you see such a thing?”

After living in Canada for a decade, Janus reflected on the reasons he decided to stay.

“I really like the people, they’re very kind, friendly, easy-going,” Janus said.

“The second reason is the beauty of the landscape: everywhere you go, from the prairies where you have the most spectacular sunsets and the sky…then you go north and you have boreal forest, and the land of a thousand lakes, so clean you can drink water straight from the lake.”

Janus said he believes the kindness of Canadians and the beauty of the environment are connected.

“You can feel the power of nature in Canada, when you go to the wilderness, and I think that’s maybe why people are nice,” Janus said.

“People who spend lots of time in nature are more humble, because they realize they’re not that important, nature can crush you….They are learning from nature this humility.”

Janus said he is impressed with Canada’s movement toward reconciliation.

While a university student in Saskatoon, he took some courses in public policy and First Nation studies.

“I think the main reason why I’d be proud to be Canadian is that every country around the world has some history which they are not proud of, and most countries in the world are trying to glorify their own history,” Janus said.

“Canada owns its history and the things in the past done wrong; Canada has no problem acknowledging that.

“As Canadians, we can acknowledge our mistakes and do our best to fix them for the common good, for a common future.”

Comments (1)

Up 10 Down 5

Josey Wales on Jul 6, 2020 at 1:11 pm

Geez, I would love to say welcome to the best and most free country on the planet.

However I will say welcome to what is left of Canada.
I am well versed in Poland's struggles with tyrants of past, a tough people your fellows from the homeland.
Unfortunately MJ, Too damn many here are completely or willfully ignorant of said history.

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