Christian Aumell arrived in Winnipeg in March 2015, having left his hometown of Tara, Ont., with two suitcases and nothing else. He had just finished his studies in broadcast journalism and had been presented with a part-time job opportunity at Global News’ 680 CJOB radio station.
With little knowledge of his new home and a limited budget, Christian needed to find a cost-effective way to move about in the city. The station let him borrow a car temporarily for the first couple of months; however, he knew that soon he was going to need to find a permanent way to get to and from work.
With his friends and family back in Ontario, Christian didn’t know many people during his first few weeks in Winnipeg. Needing a reliable option and an affordable solution to his transportation problem, he turned to The Salvation Army.
Getting to Know Winnipeg
Christian was aware of the organization and its commitment to helping people. He visited the Empress Salvation Army Thrift Store and eventually found a used bike that would positively affect his new life.
“I didn’t have much money, I was fresh out of school, I needed something inexpensive and, when you think thrift shops, The Salvation Army is very near the top of the list,” Christian says.
The bike he found was a perfect match. It wasn’t new but was in decent condition, with working brakes, a functional seat and, most importantly, big enough for his six-foot-five-inch frame.
During his first summer in Winnipeg, that bike was his main mode of transportation. It helped him to facilitate his commute and gave him a sense of independence and self-reliance during a transitional period in his life. Riding around the city allowed him to get to know his surroundings and feel more connected with his new home.
“I would hop on the bike for hours,” he says, “get lost in Winnipeg and try to find my way home just because I wanted to see all of what the city had to offer.”
In the fall of 2015, Christian was hired full-time by the radio station. He was then able to purchase a car, which made moving around during the colder months easier. However, he still preferred to use the bike over his car whenever he got the chance. Christian is now a recognized voice among Winnipeg sports fans. He is the host of the 680 CJOBSports Show.
As for the bike, Christian was able to enjoy it for a year and a half. In October 2016, the bike was unfortunately stolen. Thankfully, by that time, Christian was settled in.
Despite losing the bike, Christian believes that the purchase was well worth it, as it had a significant impact on his life at the time and it helped him through a challenging period of adjustment.
“It helped me learn my way around the city,” he smiles.
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