Coming home by Rosamund Mosse
I was seven when my family immigrated to Canada from the U.K. My dad took a position at the University of Toronto, as a co-director of what was then the International Institute for Global Education. At that time, in 1992, under the Mulroney government, immigration for a well-educated, employable couple with two kids was comparatively easy.
My experience of being an immigrant was also comparatively easy. Children are generally good at adapting, and though my mother will tell you some heart-wrenching stories about me missing seeing cows in Toronto, once I had figured out what recess was and that my accent was a desirable characteristic in a best friend, I did ok. That’s not to downplay the necessary challenges of my experience as a newcomer to Canada, and the impact that resettling in a new country had on me at such a formative age. But it is to say that, as my Yorkshire accent faded, so did most ‘othering’, and I was quickly afforded the same social and cultural capital as my Canadian-born friends.
Since that time, I have travelled – and lived – in other parts of the world, and have been reminded of the ‘newcomer experience’. At eighteen, I spent a year living in Bolivia on an exchange. In a small mining town high up in the Andes, I certainly stood out. Later, I spent a semester studying at the University of Havana, in Cuba, and then six months working with the New Brunswick based NGO, Falls Brook Centre, in Honduras. More recently, I moved to Sweden to complete my Masters in Strategic Leadership towards Sustainability. Navigating the systems, structures and customs of another country can be both a challenge and a true gift. Recognising that, even in the age of globalisation and so-called ‘mass-migration’, I am part of a relatively tiny percentage of the population that has the privilege to travel and live outside my country of birth is humbling and inspires gratitude, even in those challenging moments.
Atlantic Canada holds a special place in my heart, however. I spent my Junior High and High School years in Charlottetown, and then went to University in Halifax, where I ended up staying (a whopping eight years – the longest I’ve lived anywhere!). And even though I only spent a short year and a half in New Brunswick prior to moving to Moncton this month, it has felt like somewhat of a homecoming. I love the landscapes, the sense of humour, and the spirit of the Maritimes. There is a strong sense of community here, as well as a self-sufficiency and entrepreneurial spirit. People just do things. They don’t wait for someone else to notice, or for the perfect time or circumstance, they just give it a go. And as both a social lab practitioner and chronic perfectionist, it is so refreshing!
My experiences as a newcomer, international student, transplant and transient community-maker have ultimately been made and measured by (sometimes seemingly small) interactions and connection with others. Cups of tea, shared meals or walks in the forest. This is a lesson that I take forward into the Economic Immigration Lab. Whatever happens at the level of policy change, cultural transformation or business culture will be a direct result of the quality of the personal interactions and level of connection experienced in the lab and subsequent working groups. As a process designer, this is top of my mind as I embark on this journey with you all. I look forward to working together, towards a New Brunswick that is a leader in attracting, welcoming and retaining newcomers.