Often, when they’re at Fredericton International Airport awaiting the arrival of new Filipino immigrants to our city, Gina and Roland Moreno share memories of when they first arrived here from Winnipeg in 1996. Although they found the slower pace of a smaller city better for raising a family, amenities and resources for immigrants were not as available as they are today. So, the couple, who originally emigrated to Winnipeg from Manila, decided to change that.
Today, the Filipino-Canadian CommUNITY of New Brunswick (FCNB), the organization they founded, assists new immigrants as well as the more than 2,000 Filipinos living in our province.
Gina, FCNB’s president, says their vision is to create a healthy Filipino immigrant community that is both self-sufficient and fully integrated within Canadian society.
In my new role as Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship, I look forward to working with my old friends Gina and Roland, as well as the many other contributing members of the immigrant community.
I will continue to listen to local organizations such as the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, the Multicultural Council of New Brunswick and representatives of the Business Immigrant Mentorship Program; the Local Immigration Partnership, and those guiding the Atlantic Immigration Pilot Project, an initiative of our government’s Atlantic Growth Strategy.
In my role as MP, including as parliamentary secretary to the foreign affairs minister and chair of the Atlantic Growth Strategy subcommittee on innovation, I have gained an in-depth understanding of Atlantic Canada’s economy and what it needs to flourish. That need, in a word, is immigration.
Without a doubt, our region’s economic success depends on our ability to attract and retain skilled workers and their families. The diversity of newcomers enriches not only the cultural fabric of our country but also its economy, and consequently, the lives of every Canadian. Immigration does not take away jobs. It expands our economy by creating new opportunities for all of us.
But we know this in New Brunswick because we are a province of immigrants. And it is the collective effort of all of us whose families came here over the last three hundred years to start a new life that makes our province unique.
Where would we be without our Acadian heritage and the return of a People who were scattered like seeds to the wind in 1755? Where would we be without the Irish, who came here to escape the Great Potato Famine of the 1840s? And where would we be without the large numbers of people who emigrated from Europe and the Middle East to Minto, during the coal boom in the early 1900s?.
Our provincial motto says it all: Spem Reduxit/Hope Restored, particularly in the context of our most recent wave of immigration, the refugees from Syria who escaped the bombs and bullets of Bashar al-Assad’s tyrannical dictatorship. As New Brunswickers, we can all be proud that our province accepted with open arms and open hearts more refugees per capita than any other jurisdiction in Canada. Our minds have been opened by the experience of history.
And our history starts with our First Nations Peoples, with whom I look forward to working with as we strive to make our city, our province and our region more culturally and economically diverse. St. Mary’s First Nation, considered one of the country’s best run and financially successful First Nations, reflects the positive steps forward our government is making to improve the economy.
But the government can only do so much. Our success in building a robust, vibrant and diverse economy that supports the middle class and provides good-paying jobs for all, ultimately depends on each of us. Like Gina and Roland Moreno, who many years ago chose to not only come to Canada and start a new life but also to help other Filipinos do the same, we must continue to welcome newcomers with open arms and open hearts. It’s who we are as Canadians.