Businesswoman wants more Portuguese in eastern Canada

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Portuguese businesswoman Bernadette Fernandes urges the Portuguese to emigrate to the province of New Brunswick in eastern Canada so that the community “can grow”.

“The province lacks people and talent. Specifically, there are gaps in digital skills, manufacturing and a shortage of commercial workers in construction and forestry, ”the 57-year-old businesswoman told Lusa News Agency.

The Paris (France)-born business consultant was elected earlier this month chairman of the board of directors of the New Brunswick Business People‘s Association for Immigrants.

Bernadette Fernandes, a resident of the coastal city of Saint John, explained that the immigration process remains federal, but the selection of candidate immigrants “is different from other Canadian provinces like Ontario.”

Data from the Government of New Brunswick projects that approximately 120,000 jobs will go unfilled over the next 10 years. The low birth rate, the growing elderly population and the youth migration rate have created a shortage of skilled workers in the province.

In an attempt to remedy this problem, the provincial government plans to open an office in Europe and India to attract 7,500 immigrants per year.

“It is one of the easiest provinces to immigrate. If the Portuguese want to come, they will be well received by the community, ”he stressed.

Bernadette Fernandes, a graduate of the University of St. Thomas (Bachelor of Arts) in Fredericton, is fluent in five languages, emigrated to Canada at just two years old, in 1965, having returned to Portugal between 1973 and 1975.

As for daily life in New Brunswick, the businesswoman classified it as “very calm, with freezing temperatures in winter and snow but” not as harsh as in other parts of Canada “, with “Lots of uninhabited space, forest, national parks, beaches”, an area suitable for outdoor activities during all seasons of the year.

New Brunswick and Portugal “have similarities, both because they are maritime regions”, with potentials in sectors that derive from the ocean such as “shipbuilding, fishing and aquaculture”.

One of the main difficulties in this region is access to Portuguese products, a situation that would be “easier if the community were bigger”, if it was “more involved in commercial terms”.

“We don’t have any associations, cafes, pastry shops or restaurants. Portuguese products must come from Montreal, a city 10 hours away by car. Pastel de nata itself is difficult to find in New Brunswick. They are difficult to find in any of the Atlantic provinces, ”she lamented.

The businesswoman estimates that there are less than 100 Portuguese and Portuguese descendants in this region, a community “which was already more numerous in the 1970s, in a small environment where almost everyone knows each other”.

Although Portuguese immigration to this province is currently reduced, there are other Portuguese-speaking communities, like that of Brazil, which have increased considerably.

“The Portuguese-speaking community is growing thanks to synergies with the Brazilian. It is a factor of unity, where we will unite more, for a community ”, he underlined.

Although the Portuguese of New Brunswick “are more of the working class or retired”, a development different from that observed in Toronto, Bernadette Fernandes hopes “to support newcomers in their integration into Canadian society” through the ‘Local Immigrant Business Association.

New Brunswick is one of the four Atlantic provinces on the east coast of Canada, the only bilingual (English and French) in the country, and has a population of approximately 750,000.

Data from the 2016 Canadian census reveals that there were 483,610 Portuguese and Portuguese descendants in Canada, or 1.4% of the country’s population.

The majority were in Ontario (69%), Quebec (14%) and British Columbia (8%).


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