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Employment after immigration in Atlantic Canada: What you said, and what we learned


A sober reminder

Tareq Hadhad’s is newcomer success story.

Tareq Hadhad
Tareq Hadhad

The support and welcoming he and his loved ones experienced are leading to great things — for his family, the community and the economy.

Peace By Chocolate is an example of what’s possible.

For more such success stories to happen, and for a brighter future in Atlantic Canada, the community at large needs to appreciate and embrace the value newcomers can bring.

While compiling this Deep Dive on Hiring Immigrants, we had a sober reminder that anti-immigration and hate are very real.

The March 15 massacre of 50 people at a mosque in Christchurch, New Zealand, was committed by extremists who were anti-immigration and anti-Muslim.

These sentiments, this hate, have no place in Atlantic Canada, or anywhere else.

As economists, policy makers and pundits tell us, if this region is going to survive and prosper, immigration is essential.

Hopefully, this series has enlightened some who doubt that.

— Steve Bartlett, senior managing editor

How do we learn more? One question at a time.

We asked our journalists what they learned as they dug into immigration in Atlantic Canada to uncover new information and find solutions.

What’s the biggest gap you see in terms of the challenge and solution?

Sam McNeish: From the conversations I had with employers and groups representing immigrants and refugees, I think the biggest problem is society itself. In some places, there is acceptance of new people seeking to make a new life for themselves. And then there is the old school who want things to stay the same. The broad thinkers are the ones who will help make any of these programs work … and our society grow to the levels it needs to be at — as we are now a global community. The people I talked to have that vision, but there are also a host of trolls out there who like to comment, many of them nameless, and chastise these initiatives.

Andrea Gunn: It seems to me like there’s no one real cohesive idea about challenges and solutions in attracting and retaining newcomers - because immigration is such a varied and complex area it’s difficult to pin down one or even a few particular areas. Instead, the issues (and associated solutions) vary from person to person and community to community. But as shown by my sources, that doesn’t mean we can’t identify areas where we are lacking - whether those areas are policy based, or larger societal shortcomings - work towards doing better.

What’s the one piece of research you expected to find, but didn’t exist?

AG: It wasn’t so much research but I found a lot of the people I interviewed, though quite well versed in the topic as a whole, focused a lot on anecdotal evidence and broad topics/ideas. As a political reporter and someone who thinks rather analytically I like looking at specific policies and their implications, especially since that was the initial aim of my story. I was hoping more of my sources would be able to say “this subsection of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act is problematic because of X, Y or Z and these are the changes we need to make to fix it.” I think what that shows is that the issues facing attracting and retaining immigrants, a large and complex topic, are more big-picture in nature and less focused on a particular policy or law.

What’s the most surprising thing you learned? What sticks with you after you hit submit?

SM: I can’t believe that with all the kind and caring information and nurturing that is abundant around the globe, that we as human beings wouldn’t want human beings to be kinder, nicer, gentler and of course more accepting of all races and cultures. As individuals, we are taught right and wrong, likely before we hit the age of 10, and then we make smart and intelligent choices. Why in this situation does that teaching go out the window?

Who did you try to interview, but didn't get to?

AG: The one type of person I really wanted to interview was an immigration lawyer, one in particular but anyone who was really well versed in the particular challenges that exist in Atlantic Canada would have been great. A lawyer would have been a good addition to the immigration story as they could really shed light on very specific issues with immigration law that cause roadblocks for those that want to make Atlantic Canada home. I had an interview set up with one very highly regarded immigration lawyer but we kept having to reschedule, and other calls I put out to other lawyers were not returned.

Who or what is a standout success in this series?

SM: The people who standout in this series for me are the ones who have taken the time to help educate and employ immigrants, to help them get a fresh start in life. People like Jason Aspen of Aspin Kemp and Associates and Russ Mallard, president, Atlantic Beef Products, the fine folks at Rabbittown Learners Program, and those who are with the Immigration Services Association of Nova Scotia and the Association of New Canadians in St. John’s, and Deirdre Ayer of Other Ocean Group Canada Ltd. in St. John’s and P.E.I., were all valuable assets in explaining the plethora of issues these immigrants and refugees face not on a daily basis, but sometimes minute to minute. And those are just the ones I have spoken with. Those who were featured in the additional pieces of this series, the immigrants themselves, the educators, the experts; all painted a vivid image for me of what needs to be done to exact change.

Heard around the web

Anthony Spencer: A million immigrants come to Canada every few years but how many have chosen to settle (or remain) in Atlantic Canada? Why do they go elsewhere? Perhaps more concern should have been shown for creating the sort of environment and opportunities which would have encouraged more people to stay in CB in the first place. And I will never apologize for my belief that unemployed Canadians should be trained and put to work before looking for talent abroad.

Wallace Ryan We need a lot more immigrants in Newfoundland & Labrador if we're going to survive and prosper!!! We can't make it on a population of aging white folks.

Canada needs to give us a much bigger quota of New Canadians!!! It's Newfoundland & Labrador's best hope for a real future.

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DEEP DIVE: Employment after immigration in Atlantic Canada

Employing immigrants - how can we get businesses on board?

Attracting, hiring newcomers: who's making a difference in Atlantic Canada?

What needs to change to attract, hire and retain more immigrants in Atlantic Canada?

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1 being least likely, and 10 being most likely

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