SASKATOON -- Paula Collins spent her Wednesday morning celebrating as she watched the U.S. presidential inauguration.

“I am so happy, really happy. I mean, it takes me back to when President Obama was in office and just the excitement of having a first Black president and first lady, and now, we have Kamala Harris in office, a woman and a woman of colour,” she said.

Collins grew up in Kentucky but moved to Canada 50 years ago and is now based in Saskatoon. 

She still has family in the U.S. and has been watching her homeland closely over the last four years while Donald Trump was in office. 

“There’s been some devastating moments, been some unsettling times too. It has been very difficult, seeing that there was not equality, that there were hard times for a lot of people and suffering.”

However, Collins is optimistic about what’s ahead now that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been sworn in.

She said it’s inspiring to have Harris as the first woman and the first person of Black and South Asian descent as the U.S. Vice President.

“I’m excited for a woman to be in office and the things that she’s going to do for women and empowering women as well young girls that look up to her and aspire to be leaders in the community as well,” she said. 

“It inspires me and I’m sure women around the world that you can do anything.”

Dianna English, the communications manager for Democrats Abroad, a group that helps Americans living outside the country participate in the U.S. political process, said a record number of people came out to vote this election and that a portion of those votes came from Americans living in other countries. 

“We know that there are many votes in Canada, we know that we can make a difference, we know that Americans living in Canada vote in the states that have very slim margins and can really help be the margin of victory,” she said. 

English is an American citizen who moved to Canada two years ago. She said this marks a new chapter for Americans. 

“I think it is a time when everyone’s going to feel less fear and feel like their home is their home again. And that we have someone in charge who’s going to help fight the pandemic, is going to help us get the border back open when it’s safe and is going to take care of our people in the way that we need in this crisis.” 

Despite the optimism by some Americans living in Canada, political analyst Ken Coates said Biden has become president at one of the most challenging times and will be tasked with not only rebuilding trust with the American people but fighting a global pandemic. 

“Biden has one of most difficult jobs in recent American history, to overcome four years of division and anger and frustration and violence, and some very severe challenges to the integrity of the United States.” 

Coates said this new presidency also raises questions about the political relationship between western Canada and the United States.

He pointed to how on Wednesday, Biden formally revoked the permit needed to expand the Keystone XL oil pipeline, an $8 billion project that would’ve created thousands of jobs in the Canadian energy sector.

“When you see the Keystone XL action coming up so fast, it sort of tells you that maybe Biden and his administration are not overly sympathetic to Canada, overly aware of Canada, and more importantly, overly concerned about Canada. And that should be just a sign that Canada still has to look after its own affairs,” Coates said. 

As for Collins, she said there’s a lot of healing that needs to be done but is hopeful the next four years will bring positive change for everyone. 

“There’s a lot of work. I’m not expecting change overnight but knowing that the hearts and perspective of the presidency is of all people being equal, all people working together, loving each other, bringing different ethnicities together, different cultures, gives me hope.”