Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia ramps up efforts to attract newcomers

The Nova Scotia government has relaunched ad campaigns to try to attract newcomers to the province.

'My job is to really help people when they're looking to create a life in Nova Scotia,' says navigator

Sergei Sarnavsky, left, and Sasha Raz are shown at the Lunenburg waterfront in February 2021. (Sasha Raz)

Sasha Raz and his husband, Sergei Sarnavsky, knew they wanted to move to Canada when they decided to leave Israel.

Choosing where to live was the harder decision.

"When you're looking at the Canada map, and you're just deciding where you are going, [it is a] huge, vast country," Raz said during an interview from his home in Bridgewater.

The couple moved to Nova Scotia's South Shore in June 2020 in large part because of the connection they made with Tina Hennigar. She had just been hired by the province as one of six navigators to try to attract people who had some interest in moving to Nova Scotia.

Tina Hennigar canoes on Geier Lake after participating in a backcountry survival training workshop in 2020. (Crystal Conrad)

At the time, Hennigar worked with Now Lunenburg County, a group that promoted the county as a good place to call home.

"It looked very attractive for us," said Raz. "It looked like it [would] be an extremely successful choice for us."

The information Hennigar provided, and her encouragement to choose the region as their new home, played a big part in the couple's decision to settle down and eventually buy a home in Bridgewater.

 "It was the major factor," said Raz.  "That played a significant role of arriving at this decision to move to Nova Scotia."

Hennigar's new job with the Nova Scotia Department of Labour, Skills and Immigration is to promote the entire province and to try to match people who are interested in relocating to Nova Scotia to the communities in need of the skills the newcomers possess.

Health workers

In Raz's case, he's working as a continuing care assistant at Harbour View Haven in Lunenburg.

Continuing care workers and other health workers are in high demand across Nova Scotia, which is why a $2.5-million campaign that specifically targets people with health-related experience or training, and workers with a skilled trade, has just been relaunched.

During a recent legislature committee hearing examining "strategies to attract and retain people to rural areas," the department's deputy minister, Ava Czapalay, singled out Raz in her opening address.

"We want newcomers to thrive, like Sasha Raz, who moved here from Israel in 2020 and chose Bridgewater to be his new home," Czapalay told members of the human resources committee.

She said the Population Growth Marketing Campaign, relaunched in December, would include navigators to reach out to people who responded to the ads.

Sarnavsky and Rav made a trip to Cape Breton in October 2020. (Sasha Raz)

"We're customizing our response for every inquiry and working hard to connect with the individuals to really understand what else [they are] looking for, apart from the job piece, and then working to attach people to those communities," Czapalay said in an interview following the meeting.

The department says it has received 131 direct appeals for more information since Dec. 20. Hennigar and her colleagues will respond to those contacts.

"My job is to really help people when they're looking to create a life in Nova Scotia," Hennigar said. "That might be coming to Nova Scotia from another province.

"Where they're going to need employment, they may need housing, they might need schooling and where people can find their community of people."

Great places to live

Hennigar will draw on her experience, including a 36 day cross-Canada trip in 2018 promoting South Shore communities as great places to live. That trip is still bearing fruit, according to her.

"[It] takes a lot of effort, takes some courage and takes some time," she said. "But I do know that people did come and in fact, just this Christmas, someone did email me to say, I'm finally here and we've been talking since 2018."

Hennigar, Sarnavsky and Raz, are shown in Lunenburg in July 2020. (Tina Hennigar)

The other ad campaign, the $795,000 Work from Nova Scotia campaign, is being managed by the Department of Culture Communities and Heritage. It aims to attract Canadians who can work remotely to bring their jobs to Nova Scotia.

Department spokesperson Mikaela Etchegary said the campaign ads have been viewed over 38 million times, with 10.6 million video views and nearly 245,000 clicks, between Dec. 20 and Jan 24.

"The campaign has brought 84,000 views to the Work from Nova Scotia website as of January 20, 2022," Etchegary said.

Inquiries from the two campaigns will be funnelled to the navigators for them to handle.

Hennigar is anxious for the other navigators to begin work.

She anticipates the province's efforts will continue to generate emails, phone calls and social media posts between now and when the campaign ends in March. Each is a potential lead for the team to pursue. 

"People ask me all the time, is it really [as good as] it sounds," said Hennigar.

For Raz and Sarnavsky, the answer is a resounding yes.

"We are really happy here," said Raz. "We enjoy every day and … that's the reason why we bought the house here in Bridgewater."


Jean Laroche


Jean Laroche has been a CBC reporter since 1987. He's been covering Nova Scotia politics since 1995 and has been at Province House longer than any sitting member.