As 2021 draws to a close, Sault Ste. Marie’s Lovleen Sharma and husband Harsh Goyal, who emigrated from their native India to live in Canada in July 2020, have enjoyed another year of new experiences.
In fact, Sharma has launched a Facebook group, entitled "Indians in Sault Ste. Marie", that aims to spread the word to others about the quality of life which can be found in the community.
“We’ve started that initiative on social media and it has grown a lot. It’s open to everyone, not just people from India. We have been able to help a lot of newcomers. International students from so many countries have reached out to us. We have been helping them in getting jobs and accommodations. So many people want to relocate to Sault Ste. Marie,” Sharma said.
Sharma and Goyal have been enthusiastically participating in Canadian activities, taking in the Sault and area’s natural beauty while snowshoeing, canoeing and visiting the Lake Superior shore cabin of friend and local artist Ellen Van Laar.
“We made maple syrup by tapping the trees. That was new for us. That was fun,” Sharma said.
Sharma started a new job with OLG in May as an inbound customer care specialist, her contract there having already been extended into next year.
Previously, she was employed as a business development and communications associate with Kapptive Studios, a software development/integrated business solutions/social media management business operating in the Sault.
“All is good at OLG, but I can’t buy lottery tickets,” she laughed.
Sharma is also actively involved as a volunteer with the Sault’s STRIVE Young Professionals Group and Sault Ste. Marie Helping Hands.
Husband Harsh was working locally in food delivery this time last year, then worked as a security guard with N1 Solutions and is now undergoing training to be a City of Sault Ste. Marie spareboard transit operator.
“He loves to drive, so that’s going well,” Sharma said.
“There are lots of international students from India who travel by Sault Transit, so he can communicate with them in our regional language.”
Sharma’s brother, Gaurav Sharma, arrived in Canada in April to study culinary management at Sarnia’s Lambton College, and has visited the couple in Sault Ste. Marie.
“He loves the Sault. After his studies he wants to move here,” she said.
Another new experience in Sharma and Goyal’s lives involves owning their dog Hunter, a German Shepherd, beginning in January 2021.
A YouTube video, one of several produced by Sharma and Goyal as an ongoing story of the couple’s Canadian adventures, shows Goyal, while on a visit to a friend’s rural property with Sharma and Hunter on Sunday, Dec. 19, crossing shallow yet freezing water to retrieve the panicked dog, which had hurried across the water to a small, snow-covered mound of earth, but was then too afraid to cross back.
Goyal rescued Hunter, but was drenched in wet, freezing clothes.
“Harsh’s feet were so red. He couldn’t feel anything. I was so scared. Thankfully, our friends had a fire there to warm his feet and they had dry clothes for him to wear. After a while everything was fine,” Sharma said.
The couple just observed Diwali, a festival of lights celebrated by Hindus and other groups in India. Sharma said she and her husband have also celebrated Christmas before. They attended a convent school and gathering at annual Christmas services in their homeland.
Hindered from attending a local Christmas church service last year due to concerns over COVID transmission, Sharma said she and Goyal had hoped to enjoy a Christmas church service this year. Soaring cases of COVID in the Sault and Algoma and fear of the Omicron variant have made that event unlikely.
Sharma said the couple plan to enjoy Christmas with local friend Andrea Dawn Garcia and Garcia’s two daughters.
Heading into the New Year, Sharma said the couple hopes to purchase a house in the Sault.
Because the couple’s native city of New Delhi and surrounding area has a massive, crowded population of 28.5 million people (according to a 2018 figure), Sharma said the new home must meet at least one requirement.
“It must have a big backyard,” she chuckled.
Click here to read SooToday’s 2020 spotlight on Sharma and Goyal.