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Are the Cities Built By Immigrants Still Open to Them? The Immigrant Experience In Saint John Historic images of Saint John immigration courtesy of the.

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Presentation on theme: "Are the Cities Built By Immigrants Still Open to Them? The Immigrant Experience In Saint John Historic images of Saint John immigration courtesy of the."— Presentation transcript:

1 Are the Cities Built By Immigrants Still Open to Them? The Immigrant Experience In Saint John Historic images of Saint John immigration courtesy of the National Archives of Canada

2 The Immigrant Experience in Saint John: A look at how different cultures have adapted to a mid-sized Maritime city This is a year long study, led by Dr. Greg Marquis and Kurt Peacock of UNBSJ The study consists of 2 parts: a historical examination of the 20th century immigrant experience in Saint John, and a survey of how recent immigrants are being welcomed by the Saint John community The study is funded by the Atlantic Metropolis Centre, and is the first major academic study on the immigrant experience in Saint John In the months ahead, we hope to have a better understanding about why some immigrants stay in the community, while others leave for larger centres

3 A key question: Why Saint John? Saint John is one of close to 30 large urban centres in Canada, and while its immigrant community is much smaller than that found in Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, it is the largest immigrant community in New Brunswick Roughly 1 in 20 Saint John residents were born outside of Canada This study will seek to better understand what has attracted immigrants to Saint John, and what challenges they have faced as they seek to succeed in their new community As part of the study, UNBSJ has partnered with Enterprise Saint John to explore the immigrant experience under NBs provincial nominee program In future years, we hope to examine other aspects of the immigrant experience

4 Some historical perspective on immigration to Saint John

5 Pre-Confederation: the first immigrant waves 1783: arrival of over 10,000 Loyalist refugees lead to the establishment of city 1815: beginning of post-Napoleonic immigration from British Isles 1820s, 1830s, early 40s: skilled and semi-skilled British immigrants late 1840s: Irish Famine immigrants 1850s: Saint John is an Irish (RC and Protestant) city, by Confederation over 1/3 of population born outside Canada

6 Immigration after Confederation : the great depressioncauses outmigration from Saint John and NB 1890s: winter port begins, and SJ harbour becomes seasonal adjunct of Montreal ICR/CPR rail links to central Canada/USA : SJ as disembarkation point for American and Western Canadian settlers –ex, the Doukhobors

7 The Second Mass Migration: greater ethnic diversity the citys Jewish community peaks at 100 families growing Lebanese community small Chinese, Italian and Greek communities develop churches, synagogues, small businesses, voluntary organizations are all formed

8 A number of Saint John immigrant families opened small businesses along Union Street and Main Street

9 The early Chinese community in Saint John was quite active, opening businesses and organizing parades. Restrictive immigration laws led to its demise in the 1920s

10 The Immigrant Experience Post-1945 fewer British immigrants, European immigrants arrive by steamship transatlantic air travel makes passenger liners outmoded only recently have the number of immigrants in Saint John community increased

11 The last mass migration into Saint John occurred in 1957, as a boat filled with Hungarian refugees arrived in the harbour. Few stayed in the community - although a reunion of sorts was held in 2007

12 Analyzing the contemporary immigrant experience: how the immigrant survey works In the summer months, members of Saint Johns immigrant community will be asked to fill out a 40 question survey by UNBSJ students. All answers will be deemed confidential, and new immigrants do not have to answer all the questions - only those questions they feel like answering In the Fall of 2009, UNBSJ will be hosting a series of intimate cultural evenings, where we will discuss the immigrant experience in greater detail (after we are entertained, of course!) A concluding document will then be prepared, outlining the challenges new immigrants face in Saint John, and suggesting ways in which the community can meet those challenges. These issues will be fully discussed at an immigration symposium, hosted by UNBSJ

13 What sort of questions does the study want to answer? The survey is broken down into specific themes: Life at Home and School, Your Saint John Experience, Jobs and Labour Market, Demographic Information, and Your Ideas The Demographic information has been asked to see if certain immigrant communities have found some aspect of the immigrant experience easier than other immigrant communities The survey ends by asking new immigrants a straightforward question: if you were in charge of New Brunswick, what 3 ideas would you develop to ensure that new immigrants can stay in the province and prosper?

14 Why would anyone ever want to take part in this survey? This survey is an opportunity to fully catalogue aspects of the immigrant experience in Saint John The survey results will be made public at a forum on immigration in the months ahead, and we hope that any recommendations that come out of the survey will change the way the province of NB and the City of Saint John welcome new immigrants This is an academic study, and is meant to serve the best interests of the immigrant community, not any government department It might be fun!

15 What are the surveys preliminary findings? N.B. needs more support for immigrants: group Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | 11:38 AM AT CBC News New Brunswicks goal of attracting 5,000 new immigrants a year by 2016 is unrealistic because the province doesnt have enough support services to offer them Although the survey is only partly completed (50 responses tabulated), trends have already emerged A note of caution: The statistical variance this early in the analysis is +/- 10 % The early conclusion? If NB truly wants to grow through immigration, much more work needs to be done

16 How welcoming is Saint John? Roughly 30% of new immigrants to the city have been exposed to some form of racism When asked, there are lots of employment opportunities for residents new to Saint John, most respondents disagreed (4.14 out of a 1-5 scale) When asked, Saint John is a welcoming place for New Canadians, most residents agreed (2.67 out of a1-5 scale) When asked, would you recommend Saint John to other immigrants as a good place to live?, 60% said yes, while 10 % would recommend another NB city (Moncton, Fredericton), and 28% would recommend a large Canadian city (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver)

17 Do you ever get a second chance to make a first impression? When asked, what was your first impression, 47% liked Saint John, 40% did not like Saint John, and 14% had both emotions. Among the citys strengths were: friendly people, lots of nature and fresh air Among its weaknesses: small population, fog, and air pollution The vast majority (93%) of respondents grew more positive about the city as they stayed in the community 67% of respondents unsure if they will be in Saint John in a couple of years, while 26% plan on staying in the community

18 The Good and Bad about Saint John (actual responses) Fresh air People welcoming Bay of Fundy Inexpensive Low crime rate Peaceful community Tranquility Natural environment Weather Slow development Lack of job opportunities Air quality Limited shopping Limited transportation Boring

19 The #1 Issue? Jobs and Economic Opportunity When asked what were the key hurdles facing newcomers, employment and economic/financial issues have emerged as the most significant responses to date 84% of respondents suggested that job placement services would be useful for new immigrants The vast majority of respondents disagreed with the statements there are meaningful employment opportunities for newcomers (4.1 out of a 1-5 scale), there are opportunities for starting a new business in the community (3.6 out of a 1-5 scale), and local employers are interested in hiring immigrants (4.1 out of a 1-5 scale) The economic barriers facing SJ immigrants are arguably the biggest reason why community is unsure of its future

20 The role of the PNP: Is it a positive experience? Over ½ of survey respondents have participated in the provincial nominee program, in which the province facilitates immigration for new Canadians who have found employment or are ready to go into business Most respondents felt it took too long to process, and wasnt like it was described Those who attempted to enter into business almost universally felt it was less successful than they hoped, because of limited language skills and lack of knowledge of Canadian business customs Even with these challenges, 80% of PNP participants would recommend the program as a good way to migrate to Canada

21 If Saint John immigrants were in charge of the NB government, what would they do to bring more immigrants into the Province? The vast majority of respondents called for the creation of more/better job opportunities, as well as job placements and credential recognition Stronger language programs were desired More opportunities to socialize between cultures were called for

22 What the research students are suggesting government should offer more chance for local people [to] meet with immigrants, this will help immigrants improve their second language and make them more involved Saint John just doesnt seem to be able to provide enough opportunities or support to make their experiences positive and keep them here...Are we just too small a city with too limited resources to be able to provide immigrants what they want? Hopefully, we can find a balance that both attracts and keeps immigrants and it is financially doable.

23 Thank you! For more information on the Saint John Metropolis project, please contact Kurt Peacock Dr. Greg Marquis

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