Our first stop was back at the Delta hotel with an opportunity to meet with Greater Moncton’s business and community leaders. Speakers (hosted by Ben Champoux) included: Larry Nelson, Janice Goguen, Jacques Dubé, David Campbell, George Donovan, Aldéa Landry, Louis Léger, Catherine Dallaire and Robert Moreau. Building on yesterday’s theme of culture, we heard many reasons on why Moncton is thriving. The first reason is geographical – Moncton is ideally located within the maritimes since it is close to Charlottetown, Halifax, Fredericton and Saint John. This aspect allows the city to attract world-class sporting events and concerts. The city is bilingual, allowing it to cater to Francophone and Anglophone communities. The University of Moncton is considered essential to the – many of the successful people in the area have graduated from this institution.
One of the concern that Moncton has is the ability to get the right people into the area to sustain their economic boon. In order to maintain current net migration growth rates, they will need to grow the population by 4,000 people in the next three years. This may not be possible, considering that the mortality rate has overcome the birth rate. Even though Moncton is fairly “monochromatic” right now, the ability to attract immigrants and people from other provinces will be key to the future.
Our next stop was not in the original program, but was certainly a critical requirement to further explore what we had been seeing. We went to CAFI (http://caiimm.org) to get some feedback on immigration. This organization, specifically focused on Francophone immigrants, works to integrate a minority, and build bridges between Canadians and newcomers. For visible minorities, this can be seen as a daunting challenge since there are not many visible minority leaders in either government or business.
They posit that Moncton is in need of, but not ready for, immigrants. People chose Moncton due to its bilingual nature, but then find out that the bilingualism is more heavily weighted towards English. For those with English as only a third or fourth language, this is a worrisome aspect of integration. Re-training is another – one person from Mali indicated that although she had previously taken several years of education in accounting in her homeland, she essentially had to complete re-train in Canada. A lack of Canadian experience, coupled with re-training, makes it very difficult for immigrants to find a job. For others, a change in culture (collectivism versus individualism) requires a different way of thinking. Finally, and somewhat humourously, not many people are ready for the realities of Canadian winters!
After a short ride we found ourslves back at the University of Moncton. We had a chance to discuss research work with Marc Surrette. He gave us his story about how he moved throughout Atlantic Canada and the United States to continue his education. After getting his PhD he didn’t think that there would be substantial work for him in Atlantic Canada. When offered the Research Chair position here, he decided that it would be time for him to come back.
The hardest part about research is the ability to find funding – it’s highly competitive. Ties with the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (research grants) has allowed the Institute to procure necessary equipment and people. Collaboration is essential in order to maximize funding efficiency – tools such as Skype greatly facilitate this. Marc closed his presentation stating that he is advancing partnerships with Nature’s Crop International to develop new crops as alternate sources to Omega-3 fatty acids.
Our final event in Moncton was lunch with the newly-elected University of Moncton President, Raymond Theberge. We heard about the effects of education on bilingualism – if we value our two different languages, we need to encourage them to grow. Some French schools were given English textbooks, but taught them in French. Although New Brunswick schools have textbooks from England and France they are trying to develop their own textbooks to cover more relevant history (Acadians, etc.)
On a personal note, Raymond talked to us about his experiences being in the early days of the GGCLC. He gave examples of the group dynamics that he experienced, the challenges that they overcame, and how much he personally gained from the tour. It was a great way to cap a most excellent trip to New Brunswick. We also said our final goodbyes to Catherine, who can not make it to the closing sessions in Ottawa. Thank you so very much, Catherine.
Off to the airport for our final leg of our journey!