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Citizenship and self-care: Canadians share the bright spots in a challenging 2020

In a year that has been challenging on innumerable fronts, there have still been moments worth celebrating.

Whether it was welcoming a new addition to the family amid the COVID-19 pandemic or using the time to focus on self-care, many Canadians marked significant milestones this year — even during exceptionally difficult times.

CBC News Network recently asked audience members to share the best things that happened to them in 2020. Here are some of their responses.

Celebrating Canadian citizenship

Rachel Schafts and her husband, Daniel Kirshbaum, are originally from the United States and currently live in Quebec. Schafts said the couple officially became Canadian citizens at the end of September.

“This was a very lengthy and difficult process that took a number of years — and involved so many forms, tests and an interview that did not go well. But in the end, we succeeded and we’re so happy to call Canada home,” Schafts wrote in an email.

rachel schafts canadian citizenship
Rachel Schafts, right, and her husband, Daniel Kirshbaum, will remember 2020 as the year they became Canadian citizens after an arduous process. (Submitted by Rachel Schafts)

Improving physical and mental health

Breanna Halliday saw the pandemic as an opportunity to make positive changes in her life.

“I started working out every day, eating healthy and educating myself on how to truly take care of my body so I’m as healthy as possible,” Halliday wrote. “I was fortunate this year to make changes for the better.”

She also focused on her mental well-being, found a new job and took charge of her personal finances.

“I am now 30 pounds lighter, physically and mentally stronger, and working a better job that allows me to balance between work and personal and keeps me safe during these difficult times.”

breanna halliday physical and mental health
Breanna Halliday used the pandemic as an opportunity to focus on her physical and mental well-being. (Submitted by Breanna Halliday)

Welcoming their first child

Nick Ebel and his wife, Jen, will always remember 2020 as the year the Hamilton couple welcomed their first child, a daughter named Tilly.

“No matter how bad this year was, it will always be special for us,” Ebel wrote.

nick ebel first child
Nick Ebel, right, became a parent in 2020 following the birth of his daughter, Tilly. (Submitted by Nick and Jen Ebel)

… and new grandchildren

Phil Satim of  L’Île Perrot, Que., celebrated becoming a grandparent this year, as Nora Rose Lezniak joined his family.

phil satim grandchild
Phil Satim welcomed granddaughter Nora Rose Lezniak to the family this year. (Submitted by Phil Satim)

Meanwhile, Darlene Levecque and her husband, Joe, welcomed their third granddaughter, Georgia Rae, on Nov. 28.

“She’s a beauty!” Levecque wrote.

darlene levecque grandchild
Darlene Levecque celebrated the arrival of her third granddaughter, Georgia Rae, in November. (Submitted by Darlene Levecque)

Furry friends find new families

Elaine Gray said she was looking for a puppy a couple of years ago but was unsuccessful. But in March, just after the pandemic was declared in Canada, a fellow Dachshund owner told her about a puppy who needed a home.

“I received a picture and after one look replied back to say her name is Grace!” said Gray, who lives in Moncton, N.B., with Grace and her two other Dachshunds, Charlotte and Fergie.

elaine gray dachshund puppy grace moncton
A twist of fate at the beginning of the pandemic brought Grace, a Dachshund puppy, into Elaine Gray’s life. (Submitted by Elaine Gray)

In Fredericton, Paulette Ryan adopted Pheebs in August from the SPCA in nearby Oromocto, N.B.

“She has been a sweet and comical addition to our family,” Ryan wrote. “Not sure if Giggles, our grey tabby, always appreciates her.

“Pet therapy is the best.”

paulette ryan pheebs cat fredericton
Paulette Ryan said adopting Pheebs, left, was the highlight of her year. Ryan’s other cat, Giggles, may disagree. (Submitted by Paulette Ryan)

On that subject, one Alberta family discovered a new sport that’s lifted their spirits during the pandemic: dog badminton.

“Harley, our American Staffordshire terrier, has been our therapy dog during the pandemic,” Gary and Linda Poignant of Sherwood Park wrote.

New beginnings for young couple

Chloe Pasternak can now call Adam Trapid her fiancé after the Thornhill, Ont., couple got engaged this year. “It has turned 2020 to become a much happier time for all of our families,” Pasternak wrote.

“My fiancé planned to have our parents be part of the special moment and it was such an amazing and happy time for all of us.”

chloe pasternak adam trapid
Chloe Pasternak, right, and Adam Trapid of Thornhill, Ont., celebrated their engagement this year. (Submitted by Chloe Pasternak)

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