Project manager of Prairie Skies Integration Network, Dalise Hector, says immigrants are the main driver of population growth in Canada and they are critical to this country’s labour market. They also bring diversity and innovation to communities and with population growth, comes a larger tax base for municipalities.

Hector was one of the guest speakers at a recent Saskatchewan Urban Municipalities Association webinar on how to attract and retain newcomers. She stated that some of the more straightforward ways of welcoming immigrants are calibrating your website to show you are welcoming, host some welcoming events and add their cultural festivities to what is available in the community. Some of the deeper work would include reviewing practices, policies and bylaws to make sure they are equitable, and provide cultural awareness training. Hector adds that the community needs to be attractive enough, serving resident needs well enough, that people won’t get drawn away to other places.

Almost a quarter of Canada’s population is immigrants. SUMA’s Director of the Northeast Region, Melfort City Councilor, April Phillips, says communication and collaboration are essential between community groups and municipal governments and with newcomers. She advises municipalities to find out what it is that they can do to help, which could be something as simple as hooking them up with daycare centres or helping them settle in. Phillips notes that citizens learn so much by new cultures, so not only is it a chance to welcome new people to communities that want to grow, it’s also a chance to learn. Inclusion remains the pinnacle. The webinar noted that reaching out as opposed to be waiting to be sought out is key.