Lately I have been watching promotional videos for a few small urban centres in Canada. They are mostly well produced and make the communities look pristine, friendly and mostly charming. In others, at first glance a good place to live – which is kind of the point.
But all of them left out snow.
One showed a brief clip of a hockey team but no outdoor shots of snow, skating, skiing, sliding, snowshoeing, hiking – nothing. Normally when I visit a community in Canada (and the US) I buy a book on that community and, again, in most cases snow and winter barely make an appearance. I have a 100+ page book of photographs from Minnesota and not a single one in winter.
Twenty years ago it wasn’t that big a deal. Everyone was very familiar with winter – whether or not it showed up in promotional materials. But now we are trying to attract migrants from mostly warm climates and we need to be clear with them that we have 5 months of snow and fairly cold winters.
In fact, we should embrace and promote winter as an advantage. I’ve always found it strange that we don’t have more companies offering to rent skates, snowshoes, toboggans, cross-country skis, etc. Normally a city rec. department might do some of this but for the most part we just assume that Canadians have all the gear they want. If they reach 20 years old and don’t own skates they are probably not candidates to be out skating. But this is not the case with migrants. They come here with none of the winter gear – we should encourage them to try it out. We should host snowwoman making contests, offer free seminars on learning to skate, put on clinics regarding how to stay warm when playing outside.
We should promote winter tourism opportunities – ice fishing, winter bonfires in the woods, etc. Everyone should be encouraged to get out there and enjoy.
I have a lot of immigrant friends. Some love winter. Some endure winter. This, BTW, is the same as my born-in-Canada friends.
This matters. If New Brunswick is to grow it will need to attract and retain thousands of new immigrants each year as we move forward. There is a lot we can do to improve retention and one of those things is not to pretend winter doesn’t exist or to suggest people should just do their best to make it through. That’s not good enough.
We should embrace it and encourage newcomers to embrace it too.
PS – sorry to raise this as the summer winds down.