The Northern Policy Institute recently released a report and action plan as a result of two conferences held just before the outbreak of COVID-19 in Canada. ‘Come North – Population Growth in Ontario’s Northern Regions’.
The report states that the impacts of COVID-19 have underscored the societal challenges this document highlights. Inclusive, welcoming communities that are devoid of racism and that provide opportunities for all members of society are critical to sustainable regions.
“The report is quite concise and detailed given the level of broad knowledge and expertise of the reviewers. Indeed it is critically important that the recommendations are taken seriously and practical approaches must be initiated and or enhanced in the Northern Region.” shared Steve Araba, Coordinator, Local Immigration Partnership.
“In Sault Ste Marie and Areas, the City staff have been working to attract newcomers to the community and ensure we are a welcoming community that has the necessary support services in place. We agree that ensuring our community offers a welcoming environment is important, and we also acknowledge that we must ensure consistent improvement of our services, while engaging all stakeholders in different capacities to ensure sustainability of our processes in making this happen.”
Araba goes on to say, “Further, through the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot Program (RNIP) and other efforts, we are actively reaching out to promote Sault Ste. Marie as a destination for newcomers. Putting Sault Ste. Marie and Northern Ontario on the radar for newcomers is vital to assist communities with meeting our labour needs and growing our communities for a more sustainable the future.”
Over 300 people representing almost 100 organizations gathered over six days in February 2020 to lay out a plan for population growth in Ontario’s Northern Regions. First in the city of Temiskaming Shores, and then again in Thunder Bay, northerners discussed among themselves how to make their communities more welcoming.
The City of Sault Ste. Marie’s Sean Halliday attended the sessions held in Temiskaming Shores in February, 2020 before the whole province went into its first COVID lockdown. Halliday said he found the experience enervating. In an interview with Superior Media, Halliday spoke to the highlights of the sessions he attended.
The document lays out short, medium, and long-term objectives for all Northern regions, identifying 16 core themes and 18 separate action items to make Ontario’s Northern Regions more welcoming.
Those themes and actions can be boiled down to five key points: 1. We need a plan. 2. We need a brand. 3. We need to work together. 4. We need people to provide services, not websites. 5. We need to monitor and update the plan, every year.
Watch the interview posted above for reflections on the Temiskaming Shores session that the City of Sault Ste. Marie’s Sean Halliday attended. Sean Halliday is a Certified Intercultural Competency Trainer and Researcher – Local Immigration Partnership. He spoke with Superior Media’s Colette Linden.