Open Jaw’s Canada Day Series – Nazie Mohammed, Caribbean Airlines

by Martha Chapman

Nazie Mohammed

Many Canadians fantasize about living in the tropics where the only ice to be found is tinkling in your glass.  Not this Caribbean-born airline exec, who says he even loves the snow!

Where do you live? In Etobicoke.

Where were you born? In San Fernando, Trinidad.

When did you come to Canada? I studied here first, from 1980 to 1984, then returned to Trinidad and in 1992 I came back to live here permanently.

What are your memories of Trinidad? Very tropical, beautiful scenery, very laid-back lifestyle. And they’re not just memories – these days I try to go at least once a month as I still have family there.

Why Canada? I came here to finish my post-secondary education at York University – along with many other islanders. York had an excellent program for foreign students, looked after the visas and so on. They even had their own rep in Trinidad so it was one-stop shopping.

What were your 1st impressions of Canada? I arrived here on December 31st and it was cold wearing dress pants and a short sleeved shirt! I called my mom and told her it looked like everyone had defrosted their fridges and threw all the ice outside. One of my funniest memories is friends asking if I wanted to go toboganning and I thought we were going shopping – “to bargaining”!

What was your 1st job here? In 1992 I came back without a job but soon started working part-time at Richmond Hill public library as a circulation assistant, thanks to Trinidadian connections working there.

What do you appreciate most about being Canadian? I can vote. And I love the seasons. When we were growing up we were always fascinated by movies and Christmas cards featuring snow and winter… a white Christmas is still a novelty for me. Oh, and being able to see your breath!

If you could live anywhere in Canada, where would it be? Niagara Falls. I just love the Falls, the small town, the attractions. It’s beautiful down there and I love the lifestyle. I can never get over the fact that you look across a river and see a whole other country!

What do you think would make Canada an even better place? To get rid of the crime and gun violence we have especially in Toronto. It scares people. We need tougher rules. But Toronto is a clean city and I have no fear walking around. 

How do you traditionally spend Canada day? Usually I go down to Lake Ontario – I love fireworks and can never be near enough to the fireworks. 

What do you think you’d be doing if you had remained in Trinidad? Probably teaching high school. But I have no regrets about coming here!

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