My name is Oscar Arrieta. This is what the warmth and comfort of a blue and black snowsuit meant to me when I first arrived in Ottawa.
My family came to Canada from a small city in Mexico. The decision to uproot four children from their home and say good-bye to friends and family was difficult for my parents. I was 13 years-old, my younger brothers were 12 and 8 and my little sister was only 10. We were anxious about moving to a new country, but my parents knew that a life in Canada meant a better future for all of us, and they were right!
As a teenager, I wanted to be with my new friends, playing outside after school and on weekends, enjoying the freedom of being outdoors more than anything. And then I experienced my first Ottawa winter.
Going out to the mailbox or to get the recycling bin without a jacket in winter is fine when it’s only for a minute.
But imagine shivering while waiting for the school bus without proper winter wear – you wouldn’t want to go to school! And how would you feel if your friends were outdoors having fun and you couldn’t join them? Without warm clothing, I felt left out, and that hurt on the inside.
Oscar and his siblings – then and now!
I didn’t really know what was happening the day my mom took us to an old brick building with a big metal door. Inside, there were hundreds of snowsuits in different colours and styles. It was exciting to pick my first winter jacket and pants. I found a suit in my favorite colours, blue and black – it totally matched my personality!
When I left the Snowsuit Fund depot that day, I was proud of my new jacket. I had no idea that a piece of clothing would give me confidence and change my life. I was warm heading off to school and I was active outdoors with friends all-year round. My brothers, sister, and I continue to love winter in Ottawa. We snowboard, play outdoor rink hockey and skate on the canal. All activities we were able to start as kids because of a warm snowsuit.
As an adult, I look back and clearly see how that blue and black snowsuit changed my life. Today, I’m an engineer working as a warehouse automation consultant. In 2022, I married my beautiful wife and told her about my first cold winter in Ottawa, and how I still remember my snowsuit. Together, we help other kids who are too cold to go to school or play outdoors.
Thank you for taking the time to read my story.
Snowsuit Fund Board Member