ANG 160 Fall 2005
region, situated less than 200 kilometres from Quebec City, extends from
north of Lac Saint-Jean to the mouth of the famous Saguenay fjord. Its nearly
300,000 residents are known for their hospitality and joie de vivre. It offers a
unique environment that combines city conveniences with the pleasures of nature,
as well as having a solid structure for welcoming and supporting entrepreneurs
through a wide range of services. Chicoutimi, now known as Saguenay, since 2002
with the fusion of towns nearby, is the most populated area in the region.
Nevertheless, it has always been an isolated place. Because of its distance from
big cities, immigrants are not familiar with the region. Immigration is not very
frequent in Chicoutimi and so the language spoken is mostly French. As it is my
birthplace, I thought it would be interesting to do a research on this topic.
After gathering information from different sources (Barrette, Riverin), I have
built a chart about the most relevant facts found:
According to the
answers in the chart above, it seems like the new comers are having problems
fitting in. However, through different organizations and associations,
the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region offers a range of services to help new
immigrants integrate and find employment. Several communities are already
present in the region. As mentioned earlier, they come from a variety of
countries, including France, China, the United States, Germany, Belgium,
Colombia, Mexico, Rwanda, Haiti and Vietnam. We can find organizations like SEMO
(Service Externe de Main-d’oeuvre du Saguenay), whose objectives are to
integrate foreigners into the community and their working environment. SEMO asks
special care on behalf of new employers to help them feel as if they belong to
Although the region is
trying to get more people to settle there, statistics show that there is a
decrease in immigration rates. Statistics Canada recorded 625 international
immigrations in 1991-1992 compared to only 211 in 2003-2004. In 1996, the
population in Chicoutimi (before the fusion) was 158 850 people and only
1180 were immigrants. This causes a problem for new comers because they do not
fit into the “mould” as well as they would like. They are minority groups,
with different cultures and are not in the center of society like the majority.
They usually have difficulty speaking French too. 99 % of Chicoutimi citizens
spoke only French in 1996, according to Statistics Canada again. As for the
English population, only 0,6% spoke only English. Even worse, only 0,1% spoke
unofficial languages. This means that when foreigners arrive and do not speak
French, it is hard to find work/friends and appreciate the different services
offered. It is not surprising to see that many want to move somewhere else like
in Montreal for example, where they will be able to speak either English or
sometimes their mother tongue.
Chicoutimi wants more
citizens since the population size is low. Immigration is a very good way to
make it happen. There is a lot of work to be done, however, to make sure
immigrants do not feel rejected or want to move out again. The region has
potential to make it happen. In one of the charts, it says that we should
advertise the area, recognise diplomas of foreigners and facilitate employment
procedures. Finally, these aspects should be considered and put in action in
order to be well prepared when welcoming them.
Barrette, Valérie and Others. (2004). Bulletin Statistique Régionale, Québec : Institue de la
Statistique, www.stat.gouv.qc.ca .
Choisir le Québec. (2005). Québec: Immigration et Communautés culturelles,
Claude. (2004). L'immigration au Saguenay-Lac-St-Jean:
Atlantic Canada at a
Crossroads. Halifax: Economics Domain Conference, www.atlantic.metropolis.net .
saillants, (2005).Québec : Institut de la
Statistique du Québec