Popular actress, Foluke Daramola-Salako, speaks about fond memories of her trip to Canada.
What country did you visit recently and why did you go there?
That would be Canada. I went there for a programme.
How long did you spend there?
I was there for about two weeks and I lodged at the Le Meridien in Toronto, Canada. After the programme, I went to Maryland, USA, and afterwards, I travelled to New York to meet my family. I travelled with my family out of Nigeria but I went to Canada alone.
What did you enjoy most about your trip?
The serenity and beauty of the country is what I enjoyed the most. Canada is one of the most child-friendly countries that I have ever been to. The country is just like a combination of the conservative United Kingdom and the liberal United States of America.
What will a first-time visitor find interesting about Canada?
What any one will find interesting about Canada is the fact that even though it is so close to the US, they are so different. Like I said, it is a conservative country. For a first-time visitor, being hard-working and focused will take you very far. One thing you will not get away with in Canada is engaging in any form of illegal activity. Canadians don’t mind immigrants coming into their country but they also want professionals to come on board too.
Did you try any of their local dishes?
I didn’t come across any traditional dish, apart from the foods that are common in the US as well.
What shocking things did you discover about Canada?
The fact that they do not encourage abortion. During my trip, I noticed a lot of elderly people carrying placards condemning abortion. The fact that they say no to abortion really caught my attention because I run an NGO that is committed to fighting r*pe and other forms of abuse against women. To them, if a woman is defiled, gets pregnant or finds herself in a situation where she is carrying an unwanted pregnancy, they will rally around her instead of condemning her. They encourage and give you a shoulder to lean on. They are very friendly and happy people.
What did you see in Canada that you will like to have replicated in Nigeria?
I was impressed by the child-friendly environment and how its people coexist peacefully. Nigerians are religious but not Christ-like. We have religious houses everywhere but they don’t contribute (positively) to the lives of Nigerians. Take for instance, this recent news about some Nigerians who are being held (as slaves) in Libya; it would not be too much for just one church in Nigeria to accommodate those who have been evacuated to Nigeria, give them jobs and help them to start new lives. That is what being a Christian truly means to me.
Do Canadians know about Nigeria?
Of course. There is hardly anywhere in the world where people don’t know about Nigeria. Canadians have been relating with Nigerians for many years, so I believe they know a lot about us. But it is so unfortunate that they may know more of negative things, rather than the positive ones about us.
What travel advice can you offer?
The only travel advice I can give is that when Nigerians go abroad, they should look out for things that they can replicate in Nigeria. We have the resources to be a great nation and there is absolutely no reason we cannot be like other technologically-advanced countries. Even if we can’t be on the same level, the disparity should not be too much.