UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

A warm welcome in cold places? Immigrant settlement and integration in northern British Columbia McCallum, Katherine


Immigrant regionalization initiatives that encourage new immigrants to settle outside of metropolitan centres are increasingly common in Canada and often proposed as an aid to revitalize growth in smaller centres. This thesis considers the potential implications of such initiatives on the settlement experiences of immigrants who move to smaller cities. The research is based on interviews with service providers and immigrants in Northern British Columbia. Immigrant respondents described their experiences settling into the small city of Prince George, and service providers from Prince George, Fort St. John and Terrace reflected on their communities’ ability to welcome newcomers. Results revealed the flexible approaches to settlement that immigrants employed to feel more comfortable in relatively isolated and culturally homogenous cities and towns. Findings also emphasized the pressing need to consider the socio-economic and cultural geographies of the welcoming town or city. Both sets of respondents were also asked to give meaning to the term integration. The results of this query showed that service providers were more able to put meaning to integration than where new immigrants, despite the fact that service providers saw themselves as less active than immigrants in the process of integration. Service providers often approached the term conceptually, and gave definitions bound up with ideologies of multiculturalism, acceptance and tolerance. The usefulness of the term for immigrant respondents was very limited. Similar to the concept of regionalization, integration is an interesting idea that requires more grounded research. This thesis helps explore a new area and challenges some generalizations about immigrant settlement and community identity that are often made about places seemingly far away.

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