PEI

New community navigator to help newcomers put down roots in rural P.E.I.

A new pilot project funded by the federal and provincial governments aims to better support newcomers in Western P.E.I. so more of them will choose to put down roots in rural P.E.I.  

New position will be based in Alberton, funded by federal and provincial governments

The new community navigator position will be based in Alberton. (Jessica Doria-Brown/CBC)

A new pilot project funded by the federal and provincial governments aims to better support newcomers in Western P.E.I. so more of them will choose to put down roots in rural P.E.I.  

The plan involves hiring a community navigator for newcomers to look to for assistance, whether they have come from another country or another province.

Population  growth is a big topic for rural municipalities right across the country.— Amie Swallow MacDonald

Craig Mackie, executive director of the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada, said he has been part of a group advocating for positions like these in rural P.E.I.

"All newcomers to the Island have questions, they are looking for things to figure out, and it's nice to have a go-to person who can help them answer a question or find the right person or solve a problem or whatever it might be," said Mackie.  

Connecting newcomers, educating locals

According to the job posting which closed earlier this month, the position would be based in Alberton. The duties listed range from connecting new residents with community members and services, to educating locals on the value of newcomers to the region.

'I think it's all part of creating more welcoming communities in rural P.E.I.,' says Craig Mackie with the P.E.I. Association for Newcomers to Canada. (Steve Bruce/CBC)

Mackie said West Prince has seen a large number of immigrant newcomers in recent years — many from the Philippines and India — and hopes the position helps all newcomers, whether they've moved from another country, another province, or another part of the Island.

"I'm just pleased to see there is this position and they are going ahead — I think it's all part of creating more welcoming communities in rural P.E.I.," said Mackie.

Rural population growth important

Amie Swallow MacDonald, director of rural and regional development with the province, says there has been a lot of talk in recent years about the importance of population growth in rural areas, as well as discussions about how to become more welcoming as communities.

Amie Swallow MacDonald, director of rural and regional development with the province, hopes the new position helps make rural communities in Western P.E.I. more welcoming. (Submitted )

"To help new residents go from feeling welcome, to feeling included, and then hopefully becoming active members of the community which really benefits everybody," said Swallow MacDonald.  

Swallow MacDonald said once the year-long pilot is complete, a decision will be made whether to continue funding it — and potentially create similar positions in other rural areas of P.E.I.

"Population  growth is a big topic for rural municipalities right across the country, so all residents are important to all rural areas," said Swallow MacDonald. 

The project will cost about $80,000. ACOA will provide $48,360 while the P.E.I. government is giving $24,180 from Workforce and Advanced Learning as well as $8,060 from the Department of Rural and Regional Development.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jessica Doria-Brown

Videojournalist

Jessica Doria-Brown is a videojournalist with CBC in P.E.I. Originally from Toronto, Jessica has worked for CBC in Newfoundland & Labrador, New Brunswick, and Ontario.

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