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04 November, 2015


Chatham-Kent Mayor Randy Hope presented certificates of recognition at the launch of an Immigration Partnership Network.  Marie Carter of Dresden, representing the Migrant Workers' Ministry, is shown second from the right.
I am glad they they get it in my home community of Chatham-Kent!
Chatham-Kent's population is declining, with fewer economic opportunities and some people now considering the municipality a retirement location.  The key to reversing this trend may just lie in international immigration.

Regional council, along with the Chatham-Kent Local Immigration Partnership and business representatives across the municipality, met Nov. 4 to launch the Chatham-Kent Welcome Network. The CKWN’s aim is to present Chatham-Kent as welcoming community for international immigrants.  Mayor Randy Hope spoke passionately about the project.

“It’s important to understand what Chatham-Kent was all about,” Hope said. “It originated from immigrants. We held festivals, to demonstrate that we are a group of nationalities … it’s an important ingredient to our [municipality].”

Chatham-Kent’s population dipped 4.2 per cent between 2006 and 2011. Hope is working to reverse that trend, especially with disappearances of major employers like Navistar.  “Immigration is a key element [to creating jobs],” Hope said. “Take a look at Streetsville. What’s that? Mississauga … the fastest growing municipality in Ontario. We want to take that title from them.”

The federal government launched a project in 2010, encouraging local communities to advertise themselves to immigrants. The municipality of Chatham-Kent became involved soon after, and started the CKWN project in 2014   

In the official launch of the network this week, representatives of a number of community organizations received special recognition certificates, including my friend Marie Carter of Dresden who on behalf of the Catholic Diocese of London, promotes and supports the development of effective, practical outreach to the 20,000-plus migrant agricultural workers living and working in the nine county area of southwestern Ontario that is encompassed by the Diocese. She works in conjunction with parish-based outreach groups and with community partners who share the Migrant Workers Ministry's vision.

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