How was the Cape Breton Island Centre for Immigration founded?

The Cape Breton Island Centre for Immigration opened its doors on April 1, 2015. The Centre, funded by the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration, was a response to the results of the Rural Urban Task Force led by Cape Breton University (CBU).

This 2014-2015 Task Force, was created to examine Cape Breton’s population crisis, and, in part, the role that immigration via CBU might play in slowing the Island’s population decline.  The Task Force was comprised of members of the private sector, public sector, and community sector.

As part of its work, a survey was delivered to international students attending post-secondary intuitions and language training facilities across the Island. Among the survey’s findings were a number of opportunities and obstacles.

Opportunities 

• The majority of respondents were both entrepreneurial and well-educated. 67% of respondents were between the ages of 20 and 25.

• 88.4% of respondents wished to apply for a post-graduate working visa and 35% aspired to open their own business.

• 91% of respondents felt welcome on the Island and 68.1% of respondents felt it was easy to connect with people. 85.8% of respondents felt safe living in Cape Breton.

Obstacles

• 77.4% of respondents did not know where to go for assistance in finding employment on Cape Breton Island and lacked knowledge on how to stay in Cape Breton once their post-graduate Visa expired.

• Less than half of respondents understood current immigration streams and pathways.

• Respondents were generally unhappy with the lack of face-to-face immigration services for international students and preferred a region in Canada with in-person services available.

• 60% of respondents received no orientation upon arriving Cape Breton. Of the 40% who did receive orientation, Cape Breton University and homestay families were the only providers of this service.

The Centre was opened in response to these opportunities and obstacles and to the general understanding in the community that we lacked the on-the-ground supports needed to truly welcome and settle newcomers.

Today the Centre offers a number of services to help with settlement and integration. These include:

  • Referrals and registration for language classes
  • Getting a Nova Scotia Driver’s License and Health Card
  • Resume writing, job searches and interview preparation
  • Business and entrepreneurship development
  • School registrations (children and adults)
  • Finances (budgeting, banking and taxes)
  • Learning more about the community (customs, events, places of worship)
  • Navigating the community and its resources (transportation, shopping, medical services)
  • Connecting with sports and recreation opportunities
  • Connecting with volunteer opportunities

The Centre is administered by New Dawn Enterprises and is hosted in the New Dawn Centre for Social Innovation (second floor, 37 Nepean Street).  If you’d like to learn more or think you can use the services of the Centre, you can contact them at 902-270-5772 or by e-mail at cbici@newdawn.ca. The Centre is open Monday to Friday.