Canada’s smallest province is undergoing a demographic transformation, due to a large influx of immigrants, particularly those of Chinese descent, in recent years.
This news comes as a surprise to many, not only because of Prince Edward Island’s relative size and lack of metropolitan centres compared to other provinces, but also because it is situated on Canada’s Atlantic coast – not exactly the most accessible destination for those arriving from Asia.
Yet, a destination it has become. Since the province began immigrant recruitment through the Provincial Nominee Program in 2001, Prince Edward Island has welcomed over 10,000 newcomers into its approximately 143,200 population.
However, locals and experts are noticing that a high proportion of newcomers seem to be arriving from China. In fact, approximately 2,400 Chinese immigrants arrived in the province between 2006 and 2009 – many of them seeking out promises of business and investment opportunities. As a result, several banks have added Mandarin to their automatic machines and some local businesses are seeking employees who can communicate with Chinese immigrants.
“Once the economy [in China] got better, and once people’s pockets got deeper, they wanted to explore opportunities outside China,” says Frank Zhou, a Chinese entrepreneur who immigrated to Prince Edward Island in 2004. “The only way to make [Chinese immigrants] stay in the province is to show them the business opportunities here.”
Experts say that these successful immigrants are attracted to Prince Edward Island for what it has to offer beyond the traditional “Chinatowns” found in most major North American cities.
“The [Chinese immigrants] are interested in beautiful homes, with water views or right on the waterfront,” says local realtor Hamish Redpath. “They have lived in Beijing all their lives and they talked to me about the pollution and the crazy traffic, so to come here and have five acres and a little farmhouse for a couple hundred thousand bucks is a dream come true.”
Source: National Post