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Gatineau works hard to welcome immigrants

Immigration is now driving population growth in the Outaouais, and the City of Gatineau says it is working hard to welcome the flood of newcomers with open arms.

"What we want [is] that the people feel...like any citizen in the city — that they have the same opportunities to work, to develop themselves, to be involved in the development of this city," said Annie-Claude Scholtès, the cultural community coordinator for the City of Gatineau.

Last year, more than 1,200 immigrants moved to the region. In fact, between 1,000 and 1,200 immigrants have arrived in the Outaouais every year since 2001-2000.

Proportion of foreign-born residents and visible minorities in Gatineau
2006 2031 (projected)
Foreign-born 8% 15%
Visible minorities 6% 14 %

Source: Statistics Canada

Migration is already outstripping births as the major force behind population growth in the Outaouais, and its relative influence will grow significantly between 2010 and 2031, the Institut de la statistique du Québec forecasts. The proportion of immigrants and visible minorities within the population of Gatineau are expected to double between 2006 and 2031, Statistics Canada predicts.

Scholtès said the City of Gatineau has been working hard to make all newcomers feel at home. A staff of three, working with about 80 community groups, implements the city's cultural diversity policy with a budget of $400,000. It offers a variety of programs for newcomers including two welcome sessions:

* One is an orientation that provides information about services that connect residents with the history, geography and regulations in the city. It is delivered in conjunction with the city's police force and its recreational services department.
* The other is a bus tour of the region in collaboration with the Societé de Transport de L'Outaouais, with visits to a police station and other centres that offer city services from Aylmer to Buckingham.

Scholtès said it is important for immigrants to have the chance to step inside a police station.

"'Cause some of them are afraid or insecure," she said, adding that the trip provides an opportunity to develop links with the police.

About 50 people a month take part in the tour, she estimated.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/canada/ottawa/story/2010/03/16/gatineau-immigrants.html#ixzz0iUXlnwYE

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