There were a lot of people paying close attention to our Cross-Canada tour, where we invited Canadians to “create a life they love” in Lunenburg County. Officials from other provinces would pay our adorable 1976 Boler camper a visit as we rolled into their community to ask what we were up to; not so much threatened by our bold invitation as much as they were disappointed that they'd not thought of it first.
Prince Edward Island even invited us to speak at their municipal conference on economic development. We also had an offer from a Nova Scotian community who asked if we'd sell them our camper. After spending 36 days with something — living or not — I couldn't bear the thought of saying good-bye. Another group who paid close attention wanted to meet with us as soon as we returned from the tour.
The Nova Scotia Office of Immigration was particularly intrigued by our initiative. The act of inviting people to move to our community is not new to immigration officials and we met to compare notes. It was clear we could learn from each other. We knew instantly that there would be an opportunity to work together.
Months went by. We’d connect periodically and talk about immigration events the department was travelling to as they promoted our province. I'd send them people who reached out to me wanting to immigrate here, and they'd offer their assistance as we needed it.
We can only sustain our population in a few different ways: by having more babies, or by welcoming new people. Given our birth rate, we best lay out the welcome mat.
So, when the Office of Immigration asked if NOW Lunenburg County would join them, along with many other Nova Scotian communities to Destination Canada in France and Belgium, we jumped at the chance. This would be a great test. We didn't know what to expect or if it would be successful at all, but we knew we’d find out. That is the beauty of NOW Lunenburg County. We’re nimble. We can react fast. We knew one thing for certain: We wouldn't know unless we went and learned for ourselves. And what we learned was pretty incredible.
It turns out that Nova Scotia is no secret internationally, we had a line up at our booth for the duration of the tour. Most people spoke amazing English, French and a number of other languages, too. I met doctors and engineers, servers, therapists, drivers, chefs, teachers, and entrepreneurs. People were eager to learn more about our community and the opportunities that exist here.
I learned that there is no language barrier when it comes to positivity. I learned that you can sit and talk so much and so fast and with such enthusiasm that you can perspire, just while sitting. I learned that the folks at Immigration Nova Scotia work long, hard hours. They're passionate about our province. I was working with the best ambassadors in our province, including the Cape Breton Partnership, the Western REN, Halifax Partnership and our Minister of Immigration, The Honourable Lena Metlege Diab, and her incredible team. I particularly learned how very lucky we all are to live here.
I met folks who don't feel safe where they live; people who have a lot to offer our province and who are eager to work hard for our businesses, volunteer and make our communities better for us all. I laughed, I cried, and many times, I could see some of these people as my neighbours. We'd be lucky to have them.
Before embarking on the tour I filled my suitcase with our NOW Lunenburg County magazines and handed out every last one of them. In their place, I filled that same suitcase with hundreds of resumes of the folks I met, and together with the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration, we want to introduce them to you.
If you're an employer and you are unable to find people to fill your vacancies, I may have met someone who’s perfect for you. We are co-hosting an early morning chat to share with local employers how immigration can be an effective tool to help fill the talent gap. Please join us for coffee, a pastry, some fruit and learn more, April 9, 7:30 to 9 a.m., at the Mahone Bay Centre. Please email me to register at firstname.lastname@example.org.