New Brunswick

Brazilians attracted to Atlantic region by low cost of living

Relatively cheap college tuition and a reasonable cost of living are attracting Brazilians north of the border, a spokesperson for the community on the East Coast says.

About 10 families have moved from Brazil to Moncton in the last few weeks, association says

Karen Fernandez-Pearce says she moved to the area 18 years ago, when Moncton had almost no Brazilians. (Courtesy of Karen Fernandez-Pearce)

Relatively cheap college tuition and a reasonable cost of living are attracting Brazilians north of the border, a spokesperson for the community on the East Coast says.

About 10 families have arrived to Moncton in recent weeks, said Karen Fernandez-Pearce, president of the Brazilian Association of Atlantic Canada.

The influx is ahead of the fall school semester. ​

Fernandez-Pearce said about 100 Brazilians live in Moncton, and about 70 of them arrived in the last two years.

"The financial situation, the political situation is not the greatest," Fernandez-Pearce said of Brazil. "So people are looking for alternatives, and they find Moncton when they do their research."

Fernandez-Pearce said there are pockets of Brazilians in Fredericton and Saint John, each with about 10 families, in Prince Edward Island, with about 20 families, and in Newfoundland and Labrador, where about 30 Brazilians have moved.

"They are coming here with their whole family or as a couple," she said.

The challenges

Fernandez-Pearce said the Brazilian Association of Atlantic Canada helps newcomers settle into their new lives, offering such services as day-to-day orientation when they first arrive.

"We know how hard it is," she said. 

The association also helps to connect Brazilians with jobs because the job market is one of the biggest challenges they face once they're out of school.

"It is the luck of the draw, we don't have a lot of jobs available."  

Fernandez-Pearce explained that school is "a port of entry" to help integrate the newcomers into the job market.

If graduates can't find work in their fields, they are forced to leave and find work elsewhere, she said.

The association is also a bridge between the community and the Brazilian consulate in Montreal, she said.

The Brazilian community is growing so rapidly in Atlantic Canada that Fernandez-Pearce has been asked to open a vice consulate in Moncton.  

At the end of 2017, the new consular office will start offering services that the Montreal office would, including visas, passports and birth certificates.

Fostering diversity

Fernandez-Pearce moved to New Brunswick from Brazil 18 years ago. Her husband is from Riverview and because she spoke English and he couldn't' speak Portuguese, they decided to settle down in Riverview, increasing the size of the Brazilian community to three.

"When I came here there wasn't a lot of diversity around," she said. "I was one of the few immigrants around and now that I see more people coming — not just from Brazil but from other countries, too — you see a lot more diverse culture."

Brazilians "bring beautiful culture, they bring diversity" to the province, but they are also helping to the province's population numbers.

"They come, they stay, they pay taxes, so I can retire," she said. "So, really, bottom line, we're not having a lot of babies, our population is getting older, so the more immigrants we can bring, the more people paying tax, the better our province will be."

With files from Karin Reid-LeBlanc