Success stories out of Ontario provide glimpses into how small communities can attract and retain newcomers.
Immigrants tend to go to big Canadian cities, which creates a challenge for rural communities to fill their labour markets through immigration.
The Immigrant Futures project offers ideas on how to attract and support newcomers in Canadian rural communities. Under the umbrella of Ryerson University, it creates a platform where “Good Ideas” for immigrant integration are available to the public.
Immigrant Futures also names nearly 50 community initiatives that have had success helping newcomers settle in Canada.
Here are the Ontario cities that made the list, all others can be found on the Cities of Immigration webpage.
Jim Estill, CEO of Danby Canada, foot the bill to sponsor 50 Syrian refugee families and did not stop there. He orchestrated a volunteer organization structure to help these families settle. Danby then went on to create a 90-day training program called ‘Ease into Canada” that helps newcomer employees get on-the-job language training and business skills support.
A number of community groups partnered together to campaign against hate crimes through the hashtag #HamiltonForAll. Though the campaign has ended the hashtag continues to be active to this day.
Newcomers to North Bay can apply for loans up to $5,000 to help with training or certification costs through the Skilled Newcomer Career Loan Program. The loan is repaid over a three-year period at an interest rate of 7 per cent. North Bay is also set to launch its Rural Northern Immigration Pilot.
The Ottawa Newcomer Health Centre offers culturally sensitive healthcare services to new immigrants. They have interpretation services, health navigation services and they offer primary care.
In response to the influx of Syrian refugees in 2016, a local married couple launched a language school called Arden Language Centre to help newcomers practice English. The centre also hosts social events and has helped newcomers integrate into the community.
The Newcomer Centre of Peel and the Ontario Association for Community Futures Development Corporation created the Rural Employment Initiative to help unemployed or underemployed immigrants find work in their field of training.
The New Canadians Centre in Peterborough launched the Newcomers Kitchen in 2016. The initiative was meant to provide newcomer women the opportunity to practice English and learn entrepreneurial skills. The Newcomer Kitchen went on for two years and now it offers short-term training opportunities in food handling and kitchen safety.
In addition to being a part of the Rural Northern Immigration Program, Thunder Bay has put forth a job search engine that is meant to connect immigrants to employers in the Northeast region of Ontario. The Thunder Bay Multicultural Association focused on attracting immigrants by helping employers hire foreign workers.
Cities of Migration also gave a nod to Toronto-based organizations, though the major urban centre does not have trouble attracting immigrants. However, some initiatives that came from the city have sparked momentum in rural communities. The Newcomer Kitchen, for example, was inspired by Toronto’s Newcomer Kitchen and the #HamiltonForAll was modelled after the #TorontoForAll campaign.
Toronto’s Scadding Court Community Centre started Business Out of the Box, which provides an opportunity for low-income aspiring entrepreneurs to launch their business out of shipping containers.
Also, the Toronto District School Board took inner-city teachers on community and faith walks, with the goal of unpacking biases and teaching them about their multicultural students. The walks provide an opportunity for cultural education and learning through lived experience.
The WE Value Partnership program offers a number of online tools to connect newcomers with local service providers. Settlement advisors from the YMCA of Soutwestern Ontario will work with new Windsorites to create a customized settlement plan to help them succeed in the community.
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