The Sarnia Journal has partnered with local photographer Art Connolly to feature his captivating “Humans of Sarnia” series as he delves into the lives and experiences of everyday people in Sarnia. Follow his series on Instagram and Facebook
A story of cultural transitions, love, and newfound freedom
By Art Connolly
Allow me to introduce you to Maitte Martinez, a recent addition to the vibrant community of Sarnia. She embarked on her Canadian journey approximately six months ago, leaving her hometown of Camaguey, Cuba, behind. Maitte’s story is one of cultural transitions, love, and newfound freedom.
Maitte’s journey to Canada began nine years ago when she made the life-changing decision to move to Canada, motivated by the birth of her son. Maitte fondly recalls the stark contrast between life in Cuba and her new Canadian home.
In Cuba, Maitte juggled three different jobs as a secretary, photographer, and model, yet her income barely amounted to $100 per month. She now finds fulfillment as an optician in Sarnia, cherishing her role in the community.
Maitte shed light on the realities of life in Cuba, where the government exerts significant control over its people, shaping their thoughts and beliefs from an early age. She describes this as a form of “brainwashing,” with communism being a central theme in education through stories, songs, and music. Corruption is also a prevalent issue, and the propaganda passed down through generations is known to her as “The Big Lie.”
However, Maitte emphasizes that Cuba isn’t all darkness. The healthcare system is commendable, and the Cuban people have a strong sense of community, looking out for one another. Despite missing her family and Cuban culture, Maitte has no regrets about her move to Canada, now considering it her true home.
The culture shock of arriving in Canada was palpable for Maitte. Her first visit to a Canadian grocery store left her amazed by the abundance and variety of products, especially she says while laughing, the array of cakes in the bakery section, a stark contrast to the scarcity and unpredictability of meals in Cuba.
What truly resonates with Maitte about Canada is the freedom it offers. She marvels at the liberty to make choices, communicate openly, and access resources like Google, which Canadians often take for granted. Maitte has found Canadians to be warm, friendly, and ever willing to assist newcomers. She appreciates the numerous facilities, such as parks and campsites, that Canadians can enjoy.
When asked about Canadian winters, Maitte laughed and expressed her love for the season, embracing it as another part of her new life in this land of opportunities.
Welcome to Sarnia and Canada, Maitte, where your journey is a testament to the pursuit of freedom and a brighter future.
“Humans of Sarnia” founder Art Connolly is a man fuelled by curiosity and a passion for
connecting with people in Sarnia. Inspired by the renowned “Humans of New York” series, with a camera in hand, he captures the very essence of the individuals he encounters, preserving their stories through his lens.