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Canada Courts Migrant Families

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  • World View <ummyakoub@yahoo.com>
    Canada Courts Migrant Families to Revive a Declining Hinterland New York Times October 1, 2002 By Clifford Krauss TEINBACH, Manitoba: Lidia Tschritter comes to
    Message 1 of 1 , Dec 18, 2002
      Canada Courts Migrant Families to Revive a Declining Hinterland

      New York Times
      October 1, 2002
      By Clifford Krauss

      TEINBACH, Manitoba: Lidia Tschritter comes to the door barefoot to
      meet her nine children as they return home from school. Her hair is
      tied in a kerchief and she wears a homemade flower-print dress that
      reaches her ankles just as she did in her native Mennonite village
      in Kazakhstan. The front yard of her six-bedroom house has a
      trampoline for the children next to a sumptuous fruit and vegetable
      garden. Her husband, David, a carpenter who makes patio doors in a
      local window factory, will be home any minute to care for the
      family's barn full of animals. "Canada is wonderful!" exclaimed Mrs.
      Tschritter, 39, in her archaic German dialect. "We can buy
      everything we need, worship as we wish, and it's nice and peaceful."
      This is the snapshot the Canadian government hopes to duplicate
      thousands of times over as it embarks on a new immigration policy
      designed to attract young, preferably large foreign families to
      rural Canada. The goal is to send one million immigrants into the
      hinterlands over the next decade by matching workers with remote
      businesses and farms that are starved for skilled labor, and to
      spread Canada's multiethnic rainbow across the country's vast
      prairies, tundras and forests. Officials hope to remold an
      immigration policy that has turned Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal
      into three of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world to
      distribute the labor riches of places like China, India and Ethiopia
      more equally. With Canada's population of 30 million aging and its
      birthrate plummeting - Canadian women currently have 1.49 children
      on average - the government says that it, like some European
      countries, must rely on increasing immigration to ward off a
      population decline. But with the populations of Newfoundland falling
      by 7 percent between the 1996 and 2001 censuses, Yukon by 6.8
      percent, Northwest Territories by 5.8 percent, New Brunswick by 1.2
      percent and Saskatchewan by 1.1 percent, populations in some rural
      areas are already in calamitous decline. "We need to create more
      magnets for immigration everywhere," said the minister for
      citizenship and immigration, Denis Codere, in an interview. "It's a
      matter of population growth, labor supply, quality of life, the very
      future of our country." Not only is the centuries-old dream of
      populating Canada's vastness at stake. The solvency of national
      health care, and educational and housing programs that are financed
      by provincial tax bases, which are shrinking, may also hang in the
      balance. Enormous stretches in the prairies are suffering a slow
      death from cuts in farm subsidies, shrinking agricultural profit
      margins and drought. The decline of the farm economy has throttled
      businesses and propelled young people to take their skills and
      ambitions to large cities or to the United States. Along the frigid
      Atlantic coast, a depletion of fish stocks has converted entire
      fishing communities into ghost towns. Looking to immigration to meet
      its needs is not new for Canada. Few industrialized countries have
      so consistently used immigration as a tool for nation building.
      Canada populated its vast west in the 19th century by handing out
      land to European immigrants, much as its southern neighbor did.
      Today Canada's per capita immigration rate is twice that of the
      United States, and about 17 percent of the population is foreign
      born. Canadian authorities, noting negative demographic trends 25
      years ago, opened Canada's doors to people from the Caribbean, Asia
      and Africa. But the new arrivals cluster in a few cities - 53
      percent of the 250,000 who arrive every year settle in Toronto,15
      percent in Vancouver and 13 percent in Montreal. Now, though, the
      earnings for new immigrants are declining in saturated labor
      markets, strains have been put on services and urban neighborhoods
      and schools are growing increasingly segregated. The imbalance also
      threatens to produce a balkanized Canada, with three metropolitan
      areas becoming increasingly distinct from the rest of the
      country. "We just don't know how a Toronto of the future, which is
      60 percent nonwhite with 110 different ethnic groups and languages,
      is going to relate to the rest of Canada," said Larry S. Bourne, a
      geography professor at the University of Toronto. Manitoba played a
      leading role in changing immigration policy when it developed a
      successful program four years ago to attract several thousand
      skilled immigrants, using advertising and contacts with community
      leaders. It used communities already there to attract German-
      speaking Mennonites, Argentine Jews, Filipinos and Bosnians. "For
      rural areas if we're not in the process of growing, we're in the
      process of dying," said the Manitoba premier, Gary A. Doer, in an
      interview. "So what we need is a targeted immigration policy." Eight
      other provinces and territories have begun similar efforts to find
      skilled workers. Federal authorities then fast-track the provincial
      nominees through health and security checks. New Brunswick, for
      instance, is looking for affluent students from China and Hong Kong,
      who local officials hope will coalesce into their own community and
      perhaps attract their families. Saskatchewan is looking to Korea and
      Ukraine to bring experienced farmhands to its hog barns. Mr. Codere
      has embraced the efforts and will unveil a new federal policy in mid-
      October that would grant thousands of immigrants three- to five-year
      work permits under the proviso that they live in rural communities.
      If they comply, they will be automatically granted permanent
      resident status, with the right to apply for citizenship after
      another three years. By then, officials hope they will have planted
      roots in the small towns and will stay. Mr. Codere will also propose
      ways to quicken retraining and licensing for foreign engineers,
      teachers and medical professionals seeking work in rural
      communities. Skeptics say immigrants will continue to gravitate to
      cities and some question the constitutionality of limiting people's
      freedom to move around. Furthermore, they say, not every province is
      able to build on ethnic populations already present the way Manitoba
      can. But at Loewen Windows here in Steinbach, founded a century ago
      by the son of Russian Mennonites, the owners turned to Mennonites as
      they sought 150 new workers. Originally from Germany, the Mennonites
      have a 200-year history in Russia and Kazakhstan. Stalin resettled
      thousands of ethnic Germans from the Volga region to Kazakhstan
      after Hitler attacked the Soviet Union in 1941, and later they were
      encouraged to stay there for the same reason that Canada is seeking
      them as settlers today. The newcomers here speak German, and little
      English, but communication is aided by the fact that many of their
      supervisors, older Mennonites, speak at least some German, learned
      from their grandparents. The housing boom in the United States had
      propelled the company's sales, and Loewen needed more skilled
      workers. "I could have put a plant in Georgia, Mexico, Malaysia or
      China," said Charles Loewen, the chief executive officer, "but we
      prefer to grow here and immigration helped us hugely." In nearby
      Winnipeg, the 15,000-member Jewish population has helped attract
      Jews from economically depressed Argentina by sending delegations,
      helping with job interviews and English lessons and making sure
      prospective immigrants have a Friday night Sabbath dinner during
      exploratory visits. The 35 Argentine families who have arrived over
      the last year have given the Jewish community here renewed
      confidence it can survive, and hundreds more have expressed interest
      in coming. Martin Wayngenten, 30, an accountant, remembered when his
      rabbi in the city of Paraná took him aside and asked him to
      consider moving to Winnipeg. The rabbi suggested that he and his
      wife Agustina, 29, a biomedical engineer, would be welcomed with
      open arms. "We took out a map and looked up Winnipeg," Agustina
      Wayngenten recalled. Her husband chimed in, "When you don't have a
      job, you don't worry about the weather." They have found jobs, are
      saving for a house and are expecting their first baby. "I am going
      to speak to my child in Spanish," Agustina said, smiling, "but he'll
      be a Canadian."



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