SYDNEY: In the past four years, approximately 200 immigrants have settled in the region according to the Cape Breton Local Immigration Partnership (CBLIP).
In an effort to help Cape Bretoners better understand the immigration landscape, the CBLIP created two resource documents: “Immigration in Cape Breton, A Glossary of Common Terms” and “Cape Breton Immigration, Important Facts.”
Kailea Pedley, CBLIP program manager, said the idea goes back to last winter.
“… Over the last few years we’ve noticed there are some questions that people are particularly interested in, things like where are folks moving from, and where are the settling on the island, and how many are coming, those are the types of things we hear a lot of,” Pedley told The Reporter. “… It’s just more important than ever to highlight how newcomers contribute to building vibrant communities in Cape Breton…”
“Cape Breton Immigration, Important Facts” provides useful information about Cape Breton immigrants, such as what municipalities they have settled in, birth countries, mother tongues, and economic impacts, the CBLIP says.
“This is simply us collecting information that’s already publicly available and presenting to folks in Cape Breton in an accessible way,” Pedley explained.
According to those statistics, since 2015 approximately 200 immigrants have settled in the Cape Breton side of the Strait area, with 135 in Inverness County (including the Town of Port Hawkesbury) and 65 in Richmond County.
The most common birth countries of recent immigrants are the United Kingdom, the United States, the Philippines, Germany, and China.
Of those now calling the island home, the most common language spoken is Chinese, followed by German, Arabic, Dutch, Tagalog, Urdu, Scottish Gaelic, then Italian, Spanish, Greek, Polish, Korean, and others.
Since 1980, 57 per cent are economic immigrants, 37 per cent are those sponsored by family, five per cent are refugees, and less than one per cent fall into the other category.
According to the CBLIP, there are a number of common terms that people may come across and “Immigration in Cape Breton, A Glossary of Common Terms” provides a list of those terms and their definitions to promote clear communication about immigration.
“As there always has been, there are lots of conversations happening in the moment about immigration, so the hope would just be sharing some facts like these helps to add some clarity conversations now and into the future about immigration on the island so when we’re talking about immigration we’re using the right kinds of terms, and we’re referencing correct data, that’s the goal,” Pedley noted.
The immigration partnership also released the results of a check-in survey on COVID-19 conducted between May 8 and 20 which consisted of 25 questions.
“We did a survey and an on-line event to find out what are newcomers doing during the pandemic, and what supports would help…,” Pedley said.
The number one precaution that respondents are taking to avoid transmission is physical distancing, with the next being the use of protective masks, and others are avoiding public transportation.
Most of those surveyed reported impacts to their daily lives, including difficulty finding or maintaining employment, improving language skills, paying rent or mortgages, and maintaining healthy relationships.
More than half of those who responded said they have had difficulty accessing information about immigration and settlement.
With many responding they feel more socially isolated, newcomers said they feel less connected to their friends in Canada, more than half said they felt less connected to colleagues, classmates and neighbours, while a substantial number said they felt more connected to their family in other countries.
Three-quarters of respondents said they experienced anxiety or nervousness during the pandemic and multiple people said they received food deliveries from the Cape Breton Food Hub.
Based on the survey results, international students reported greater challenges in nearly every area, when compared to the newcomer population as a whole.
“There are newcomers on the island who arrived just before COVID who need more support than ever to settle in and develop a sense of belonging,” Pedley said.
This report will be shared with all CBLIP partners, as well as other local organizations and decision-makers.
The CBLIP is an initiative of the Cape Breton Partnership and supported by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. One of the mandates of the CBLIP is to raise public awareness around the needs of newcomers and the benefits of immigration in Cape Breton. Other areas of focus of the CBLIP include improving the coordination of services for newcomers, fostering welcoming communities and supporting community-led research and planning.
Despite the many economic and societal problems presented by the global pandemic now and in the future, Pedley added.
“We are committed as ever to promoting the benefits of immigration to Cape Breton,” she added. “It was a benefit before the pandemic. Cape Breton has a long history of immigration, of course. Immigrants are helping Cape Breton through the pandemic right now, and immigration is going to continue to be critical to our economic recovery during the pandemic and beyond.”
The content for the documents was drawn from publicly available information, primarily from Statistics Canada and from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. Both documents are available at: https://newtocapebreton.com/resources/.