The Newcomers

'I feel like this is home': five unique stories from Thunder Bay's newcomers

Some move for work. Some move for school. Some move for love. Some move to come home. There are as many stories about why people move to Thunder Bay, Ont., as there are people who move here.

School, work bring people to Thunder Bay; a sense of community keeps them here

All week on Superior Morning, CBC Thunder Bay is introducing you to people who moved to town between the 2011 and 2016 census periods. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

Some move for work. Some move for school. Some move for love. Some move to come home.

There are as many stories about why people move to Thunder Bay, Ont., as there are people who move here. 

All week, CBC Superior Morning is bringing you some of their stories.

Data released from the 2016 census showed that the census metropolitan area's population grew by just 25 people compared with the 2011 census—from 121,596 to 121,621 people.

So we chose 25 people to profile. Here is the final group of five.

Feras Battah

Originally from Saudi Arabia, Feras Battah moved to Thunder Bay in 2013. (Feras Battah)

For Feras Battah, Thunder Bay has become a second home.
Battah was born in Saudi Arabia, and moved to Canada in 2011, then Thunder Bay two years later when he began studying electrical engineering.
And now, he can't imagine himself anywhere else.
"I started from zero," he said. "Now I feel like this is home. Now I'm trying to find a job here."
"I feel I belong to Thunder Bay, I fit in this place."
His parents do ask if he's coming home, and while he plans such a trip, he can't give them an exact date, because, as Battah puts it, "I want to stay here."

Katie Stevens

Katie Stevens came to Thunder Bay to work with the TBSO. (Katie Stevens)

Katie Stevens came to Thunder Bay for work. In her case, that was a position with the Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra.
Originally from Almonte, Ontario, a small town near Ottawa, she sees parallels between Thunder Bay and her hometown.
"I find that after living in Calgary and Toronto and Thunder Bay, that Thunder Bay has a small-town vibe."
"You go to the grocery store, you see everybody you know."

Corrina McKay

Corrina McKay said racism in the city makes her feel unsafe and uncomfortable. (Corrina McKay)

Life in Thunder Bay has been challenging for Corrina McKay.
She's a young Indigenous woman, and as such, it can be difficult trying to go out in public, especially at night, McKay said.
That extends to her relationship with her peers, too, as many of them are non-Indigenous.
"I feel like the racism in Thunder Bay makes me feel uncofortable, and it's scary and I don't feel safe," she said. "I can feel the racism; it really does take a toll."
There are agencies in the city, such as the Indigenous Friendship Centre, that she reaches out to.
"It kind of helps," she said. "I depend on my friends a lot. I can't imagine what I'd be doing if I didn't have them around."

Carly Forbes

Carly Forbes, right, came to Thunder Bay to study nursing at Lakehead University. (Carly Forbes)

Carly Forbes came to Thunder Bay to study nursing at Lakehead University.
And, she admits, she had no plan to stay after finishing the program.
Things changed quickly, however.
"A few weeks after moving here I made a really great friend," Forbes said. "We met, actually, at a protest. She was one of the organizers, and we became really good friends."
"A couple years later, we started to date."
Another factor was the fact that she found a permanent, full-time position at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
"In southern Ontario ... as a white person, I don't have to think about colonialism in the same way," Forbes said. "Whereas here, you have to think about it every day, because the impacts of it are so raw and real here."

Ken Ogima

Ken Ogima came to Thunder Bay to work for Fort William First Nation. (Ken Ogima)

Ken Ogima was born in Dryden, but raised in Thunder Bay.
He then spent about 20 years living in Alberta, returning to Thunder Bay to work as Fort William First Nation's CEO.
His experience here has shown him that Fort William First Nation and Thunder Bay are very important to each other's success.
"Racism is not only isolated to Indigenous and non-Indigenous," he said. "It's all of us together, and we're one big community."
"If Thunder Bay is going to be successful, then we have to be successful here on Fort William First Nation, and vice-versa. And that goes straight across the board, with any social issue."
"We all have to be at the table."
Ogima said he loves Thunder Bay, and what gives him hope for the city is that "We are all willing, in some way, to work together."


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