Anastasia Belashov
Niagara Falls, Canada

I was born and raised in Russia, which was at that time a part of Soviet Union, on an island that previously belonged to Japan and maintained its Asian identity even through the years of Communism regime. After finishing high school I moved to the Middle East, where I graduated from Tel Aviv University with a BA in Asia Pacific Studies. I traveled back to Asia and spent two wonderful years in Sapporo, Japan, studying at Hokkaido University. Upon my return to Israel, I was thinking what would be my next country: Canada was on the top of my list.

My two oldest sisters had been living in Canada for a while and it was a relatively easy move. From the first days in Toronto, I fell in love with Canada, as it was a very multicultural country with multiple choices for newcomers and endless opportunity. I completed my MA degree from Toronto University at the Munk School of Global Affairs and then started working in Tourism industry.

For the last 5 years I have been working at Niagara Falls Tourism as a Manager of International Tour & Travel Trade, Asia Pacific Market. As part of my job I travel extensively to different countries, mainly in the Asia-Pacific region and due to that I have had the chance to experience a wide range of diverse cultures. This experience has allowed me to appreciate Canada even more than before. My daughter was born in Canada and I am proud to say that I see my future and my family’s future here, on Canadian land, being proudly Canadian.

What is your favourite aspect of being Canadian?
I enjoy the Canadian reputation for friendliness and tolerance. Sometimes I have to remind my Israeli side ‘slow down, don’t jump and yell, you are Canadian now’ !

Where is one place in Canada you have not yet travelled to that you would really like to see?
Banff. This is the place that, even before I came to Canada, was associated the most with Canadian nature. I am going to travel to Banff in May (for work) and finally see it!

What is your favourite Canadian stereotype?
Going to Tim Horton’s to grab coffee in the mid of winter at -30C wearing shorts!

You've lived in a lot of different places, why'd you choose to settle in Canada?
Canada was built by immigrants from all over the world and is a country of immigrants by definition. Here you can be whatever you want to be, keep your religion etc., and no one will judge you or oppress you. It’s really the country with the greatest deal of freedom for newcomers (as long as you respect other’s freedom).