New Canadians urged to stay here
Immigration minister makes plea at citizenship ceremony
Halifax Chronicle Herald
By BILL POWER Staff Reporter
Fifty new Canadians from 23 countries around the world were urged Wednesday to consider the benefits of remaining in the East.
“Thank you for making Nova Scotia your home. Please let your friends and family know what a great place it is,” provincial Immigration Minister Carolyn Bolivar-Getson said.
At a sometimes emotional ceremony in Halifax, Canadian citizenship was bestowed upon individuals and families from Cuba, England, France, Iraq, Sweden, the United Arab Emirates and other countries.
“Your province needs more people just like you,” the immigration minister said after the group collectively recited the oath of citizenship.
“There are lots of good things here in Atlantic Canada. There is no need to head west,” she added.
More than 75 per cent of Canadas immigrants head immediately to Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal. About 60 per cent of those who come to Nova Scotia depart for one of those locations soon after receiving citizenship, Ms. Bolivar-Getson said.
With statistics like those, keeping immigrants here remains as much of a challenge as finding them jobs, the immigration minister said.
Nova Scotia must compete with established cultural support networks that exist in major Canadian urban centres if the province wants to keep immigrants here, she said.
Support organizations, including those that help immigrants find homes and learn a new language, can help immigrants feel welcome.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Ms. Bolivar-Getson said in an interview after the ceremony.
Some new Canadians who have sampled the big-city lifestyle said they are glad to call themselves Maritimers.
“I was in Toronto six months before being offered a job here,” said Rehan Pervaiz, an engineer who came to Canada over three years ago from Pakistan.
He and his wife, Dr. Fouzia Rehan, and their three children Saad, 16, Sara, 13 and Leila Amna, 2 have settled in Dartmouth. Dr. Rehan works at a Musquodoboit Harbour medical clinic.
Memories of Toronto traffic jams make it easy to call Nova Scotia home, Mr. Pervaiz said.
“I was living in Mississauga and driving to work in Scarborough each day along the 401 Highway, about an hour each way,” he said after receiving his citizenship papers with the rest of his family.
“This is a much better place to be if you have a job,” he said.
Retaining immigrants requires adequate settlement and language services, said Tony Brothers, director general for Citizenship and Immigration Canada in Atlantic Canada.
He said Ottawa has pledged to pump more dollars into immigrant services within a few months to help Atlantic Canada keep its immigrants.
“If we can offer the services to help people integrate here, then I think the (retention) numbers will speak for themselves.”
The swearing-in ceremony was one of about 70 or 75 held each year at various Atlantic Canadian locations. Each event includes about 50 new Canadians, the director general said.