Chatham-Kent’s efforts to attract new Canadians are working, according to a new report.

Based on data from the 2016 and 2021 census, the municipality led the way in Southwestern Ontario attracting a higher percentage of immigrants than either Windsor or neighbouring Sarnia-Lambton.

In a recent presentation to council, director of community culture and connections Audrey Ansell said 845 immigrants came to Chatham-Kent in the five-year span – a 44 per cent rise over the decline experienced in the five-year period before 2016.

“Immigration really has been a driver of growth in our community,” Ansell told council, adding new Canadians have deepened C-K’s diversity and community culture. 

Immigrants make up 9.1 per cent of the local population, she added, totalling 9,240 people out of 103,998 in 2021.

India, Mexico and Syria are now the top three countries that newcomers hail from, Ansell said, noting the immigrant demographic looks very different than it did in the 1950 and ’60s when immigrants were mainly European.

Ansell said there’s been significant growth in “racialized communities,” noting 2,300 residents fall into that category.

Ansell said the municipality will continue its efforts to recruit immigrant people to Chatham-Kent, focusing on showcasing stories online of the people who have chosen C-K as their new home, through social media channels and the Living C-K website.

The municipality will continue its work of promoting inclusion and diversity, she said, noting there are more than 20 identified cultural communities in Chatham-Kent.

“It takes a lot of work, it takes a lot of effort, as it does with any relationship,” Ansell said. “I think when people are choosing Chatham-Kent and we’re expecting them to put down roots here, we’re asking them to make big decisions.”

She said Chatham-Kent has always been big on “secondary” migration, meaning attracting new Canadians from bigger centres such as Toronto, noting that in the fall, the municipality is partnering with Peel Region on a job fair event.

“The goal is to try and get ready for what will undoubtedly be a workforce that is much more diverse into the future,” she said.

By Pam Wright, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 28, 2023 at 07:00

This item reprinted with permission from   The Chatham Voice   Chatham, Ontario
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