Pavlina Sudrich, an adventurer, avid hunter and content creator from one of the remotest places in North America, made an innocent mistake while showcasing her new hot-water bottle harness, the Cosymajig, made in Wales. Whilst demonstrating her new secret weapon to keep her warm during Yukon’s brutal winters, she mentioned that the harness was handmade in Wales, England, instead of Wales.
Of course, the mistake did not go unnoticed by the Welsh people, who are very proud of their country. They flooded Pavlina's timeline with messages correcting her mistake and expressing their national pride.
Pavlina, mortified and keen to rectify her mistake, issued a heartfelt apology in Welsh and English. Her apology video featured Yukon’s Premier Sandy Silver and addressed our very own First Minister to ensure her apology was heard loud and clear. Her gesture was warmly received by the Welsh people who welcomed her with open arms.
We were delighted to welcome Pavlina and for an eight-day Welsh tour in February as part of Wales in Canada year. Pavlina visited Cardiff, Brecon, Anglesey, Wrexham and Ceredigion hitting off some of Wales’ key beauty spots and tourist attractions along the way including Pen Y Fan, Devils Bridge and Wrexham FC.
"The entire experience has been pretty surreal” said Pavlina. “I started my digital creator platforms two years ago, just out of an interest of sharing my very small remote part of the world with people during the pandemic and it quickly connected me with people all over the world.
"A real objective was for me to show that everyone's corner of the world is magical. It doesn't matter where you live, what you have access to it or what relationships you have.”
If you were asked to name a part of the world that Wales has a lot in common with, the first one to come to mind probably wouldn’t be Yukon. But Pavlina noted “beautiful parallels” between Wales and her homeland in Canada’s westernmost territory during her trip.
Both nations are bilingual as many people living in The Yukon also speak French or one of the eight indigenous languages and, like the Welsh, Pavlina says people in Yukon are "fiercely proud" of their homeland: "I could tell right away there was something profound and similar in the Welsh characteristic to the Yukon with the response to that initial error I made in that social media video” she said.
"I sensed this exhaustion like 'Why do we always have to tell our story every time?' and it is like that in the Yukon where we have this incredible landscape and an incredible system of indigenous self-governance yet people mistake us with the Northwest Territories. So right away I could tell like, OK, there's a fierce resilience here and a characteristic of being overlooked that I can understand."
One aspect of Wales Pavlina found to be different from the Yukon was our landscape. She was “enchanted” by its extreme beauty and “spooky power”, and how it has inspired the fantasy fiction and folklore she grew up with. Pavlina added Wales' landscape also sparked her imagination as a "huge fan" of fantasy fiction: "I grew up on all the old stories of Merlin and without realizing how intertwined that is with Welsh history. People all over Wales kind of co-exist with this magic I only grew up reading about, so that was really cool to see."
But she noted more similarities between Wales and Yukon in our love of the land, describing our landscape in Wales as not small or gentle, but “a harsh landscape that over centuries has informed the Welsh character to be tough, to be hardy, to be on the land”. She was impressed by our Welsh attitude to the weather, noting how a cold, windy day didn’t deter the people she met from climbing Pen Y Fan!
Pavlina described meeting people from all parts of Wales as a highlight of the trip, saying there was a "little bit of a craziness there that I really liked.” In Ceredigion she met her friend Belinda Knott, the creator of the ‘Cosymajig’, spending the day with her and her children and parents. She had invitations to visit people from across the country, and while she couldn’t fit everyone in she sees this as a great reason to come back!
Pavlina said: “This relationship with the people in Wales that's kind of organically surfaced was really unexpected, and an incredibly beautiful, charming and rewarding element of this whole experience. I found that with every Welsh person I interacted with they understood that their corner of the world that their particular life was very special. I had the most wonderful and meaningful time and I know it's a relationship that I think will stay with me forever."
It was a pleasure to be able to welcome Pavlina to Wales and show her – and her hundreds of thousands of followers some of the wonderful things Wales has to offer. Thank you for taking the time to visit us, and for helping us share our history, culture, language and values with Canada and across the world.
Take a look at Pavlina's Instagram page to see all the things she got up to whilst visiting Wales.
If you're interested in hearing more or looking to grow the links between Wales and Canada then please email WalesinCanada@gov.wales.