Canada Day special for Queen Charlotte family

  • Jun. 27, 2007 2:00 p.m.

This Canada Day will be a special one for the Kunz family of Queen Charlotte. It’s the first one they’re celebrating as full Canadian citizens. The family – father Stephan, mother Gabriela, 12-year-old Lara and nine-year-old Jonas – moved here from Switzerland three-and-a-half years ago. Last month, in a ceremony in Smithers, they became Canadians. Sitting in their bright kitchen, which is adorned with postcards from Switzerland and Stephan’s woodwork, Gabriela recounts how they became citizens of a new country. Stephan, who worked as a forest warden in Switzerland, had always been intrigued by the idea of moving to Canada, with its vast spaces and forests. He and Gabriela often discussed it, but one would be tentative when the other was enthusiastic. But one day, she said, she realized that they could grow old without having ever done what they had talked about so much, and they resolved to take action. Gabriela, a nurse, started researching what she needed to do to work as a nurse in Canada. Both husband and wife could speak some English, learned at school. She had to fly to Vancouver to write an exam, then she had to get a job offer from a hospital, and apply for permanent resident status. She sent out letters to every small hospital she could find in BC and Alberta, which she had targeted as where the family wanted to be. The whole process took several years.Through these contacts she made a nursing friend in Mackenzie, and visited that community. Then she got a job offer from Prince Rupert, and went to check it out. She didn’t like Rupert, but while she was there she visited Haida Gwaii for six days and loved it. She decided that Queen Charlotte was the perfect place for her family’s new home, and they all moved here in January 2004.Asked what they like about Canada, Stephan and Gabriela point to the mountains, the ocean, and say that most of all, they treasure the space. Switzerland is about four times the size of the Charlottes, they said, and contains seven-and-a-half million people. The towns are full of people and the roads are congested with traffic.Also, says Stephan, “In Switzerland, there are lots of regulations and laws. You can’t even build a playhouse in the yard without permission.”But they still have strong ties to Switzerland, and have Swiss citizenship as well as Canadian.To celebrate Canada Day this year, Gabriela and Stephan say they will probably go with Lara and Jonas to the celebrations in Port Clements, and are looking forward to that uniquely Canadian event, the mud bog race.

Just Posted

Overnight scare shines light on Haida Gwaii tsunami plans

Haida Gwaii woke to a real alarm early Tuesday morning — tsunami.… Continue reading

UPDATE: Tsunami warning causes evacuations, closures throughout North Coast

Emergency BC issued the warning after a 7.9 earthquake off Alaska early Tuesday morning

‘The tsunami alarm failed my household’: North Coast residents concerned over sirens, alerts

People living in northern communities share how they learned about Tuesday’s tsunami warning

UPDATE: Tsunami warning cancelled for coastal British Columbia

Warning issued following 7.9 earthquake off Kodiak, AK

Painting her way home

Janine Gibbons talks about all she learned illustrating Haida and Tlingit story books

Tsunami warnings 101: Canada

Here are some things to know about tsunami alerts in Canada and how they work

Castlegar homicide victim identified

The victim was 38-year-old Jordan Workman of Castlegar, B.C.

B.C. Liberal leadership candidates get one last prime-time pitch

Leadership campaign to be decided in Feb. 3 vote

Andrew Scheer on trade, Trump and Trudeau

Canada’s Conservative leader begins three-day visit to B.C.

Victims restrained, sex toys and cash stolen from B.C. adult store

Armed suspects sought in adult store robbery

Vancouver Islanders ponder need for tsunami siren song

Alarm sounds in Port Alberni but not at the DND base in Esquimalt

Babcock, Goyette and Smyth honoured at Order of Hockey in Canada

Mike Babcock, from Saskatoon, guided the Detroit Red Wings to a Stanley Cup in 2008

Bell Canada alert prompts RCMP, privacy watchdog to probe data breach

Company spokesman: ‘Fewer than 100,000 customers were affected’

Snowboarder dies at Vancouver Island ski resort

Death at Mount Washington Alpine Resort

Most Read