Thunder Bay: Communities in Canada’s Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot
Parsai Immigration Services will be providing an overview of 11 Canadian communities. These communities are listed under Canada’s Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot. The fifth community we’ll be looking at is Thunder Bay.
What is the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot?
In short, the Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot is a community-driven government program. This program will help rural Canadian areas attract foreign workers. These areas need more workers in order to meet economic development and labour market needs. You can find more information on the pilot program by clicking here.
What can you expect from each community?
According to the government of Canada, the communities will:
- promote the pilot and their community to possible candidates
- identify job opportunities in the local economy and work to match applicants to jobs
- assess possible candidates who:
- best fit the economic needs of the community
- have a genuine employment opportunity
- have the intention of staying in the community
- recommend candidates for permanent residence to IRCC for a final decision
- provide a welcoming community for immigrants
- connect immigrants to official members of the community and settlement services
- report on the results of the pilot
Now, let’s explore Thunder Bay.
Thunder Bay is a city nestled between Lake Superior and a vast wilderness. It’s Canada’s largest Northwestern city with a population of 110,172 (2017). It’s also the second-most populous city in Northern Ontario after Greater Sudbury. It was and still is, the central hub and access point for all of Northwestern Ontario.
When the Europeans arrived in the 17th Century, the site was called “Animikie”, which translates to “Thunder.” The French coureurs des bois travelled the region transporting furs and goods. They would refer to the area between the Sibley Penninsula and the north shore of Superior as Baie de Tonnaire, or “Thunder Bay”. The city takes its name from the bay at the head of Lake Superior.
The site was originally inhabited by the Ojibway peoples. It’s believed that they’ve been mining copper in the area since about 5000BC.
Thunder Bay has a highly educated and diverse skilled trades labour force. Industry experts predict that there are about 6,000 tradespeople located in Northwestern Ontario. These people work in the industrial, commercial and institutional sectors.
In 2016, there were 1770 jobs classified in the mining industry. However, there are more jobs indirectly contributing and making up the mining force. There are 3,980 jobs in manufacturing, 3,765 jobs in transportation and warehousing, 1,770 jobs in mining, quarrying and oil-gas extraction and 755 utility jobs relating to the mining industry. These jobs are part of Thunder Bay’s mining service sector cluster.
Also, about 40% of Thunder Bay’s workers are part of a union. This means there are 22,300 union members working in Thunder Bay.
The Thunder Bay Community Economic Development Commission (CEDC) has a monthly newsletter that covers the following topics:
- helpful business articles
- economic information on Thunder Bay Census Metropolitan Area (CMA)
- first-hand knowledge of upcoming workshops and events
You can subscribe to the newsletter by clicking here.
Healthcare remains the city’s leading employment sector, and medical professionals are in demand. Thunder Bay is continuously recruiting for family physicians, specialists, psychology professionals, personal support workers and home care aides, technicians, pharmacists, administrative support staff, and much more.
Thunder Bay has many great primary and secondary educational opportunities. There are over 60 schools that include French immersion programs, comprehensive special education services an International Baccalaureate Programme and Outdoor Education Centre.
The main school boards serving the Thunder Bay area are the Lakehead District School Board, the Thunder Bay Catholic District School Board, and the Conseil scolaire de district catholique des Aurores boréales.
You can find more information on each school board and its institutions by clicking here.
Healthcare in Thunder Bay is world-class. It is the regional hub for health services in Northwestern Ontario. Thunder Bay serves a catchment population of 250,000 in a geographical area the size of France. It’s a leading destination for clinical, teaching, research and health system leadership. The Thunder Bay community offers a comprehensive range of treatment and health services in state-of-the-art healthcare facilities.
Thunder Bay is a multi-cultural community with deep Indigenous roots. Over 13,000 Thunder Bay residents identify as part of an aboriginal population, with First Nations making up 76% of the total. (Source: Statscan Census). Thunder Bay is home to the largest group of Finnish people outside of Finland, with approximately 12,000 people of Finnish descent. Thunder Bay continues to have steady immigration rates, creating a diverse community and labour force.
You can find more information on Thunder Bay’s community life by clicking here.
It’s important to learn a little about the history of Thunder Bay in order to understand its economic development.
European settlement began in Thunder Bay in the late 17th century with fur trading posts on the shore of the Kaministiquia River. As early as 1678, as a French outpost, Fort Kaministiquia, was created. Later, after a take-over by The North West Company in 1803, Fort William was born.
With the expansion of forts and trading posts, Thunder Bay grew into an important transport hub for importing and exporting goods and trading fur. The terminus stretched from western Canada through the great lakes and the St. Lawrence Seaway to the east coast.
By the mid-19th century, the fur trade boom had ended and mining became the region’s most dominant industry. Those willing to take the risk made a profit from copper, silver, and later gold.
In the late 19th century, the twin cities of Port Arthur and Fort William were neighbours. The cities kept a friendly rivalry and both communities were thriving. They drew immigrants from around the world. Port Arthur, Fort William and the townships of Neebing and McIntyre joined to form the city of Thunder Bay in 1970.
Forestry and manufacturing also played an important part in the city’s development. The forest industry especially attracted many Finnish people to Thunder Bay. The city currently holds one of the highest settlements of Finnish people outside of Finland.
You can learn more about Thunder Bay’s immense history by clicking here.
Poised for growth, Thunder Bay is still evolving into a multi-sector economy. The city provides new and diverse opportunities for entrepreneurs and visionaries looking to make their mark. However, the city’s development is still rooted in mining.
The following fun facts and links are according to Tourism Thunder Bay. Visit the city’s tourism site to learn more facts, explore the city’s most prominent destinations and plan your trip.
- Thunder Bay is home to the World’s 2nd largest curling rock outside the Fort William Gardens.
- Port Arthur and Fort William were the first cities in Canada to adopt Daylight Savings Time.
- The Poppy was first adopted as the symbol of remembrance at a meeting at the Prince Arthur Hotel in 1921.
- Thunder Bay has over 100 parks within the city.
- Thunder Bay produces more professional hockey players per capita than any other city in the world.
- With nearly 2200 hours of sunlight each year, Thunder Bay is the sunniest city in Eastern Canada.
- Fort William Historical Park is the largest living history attraction in North America and is a Canadian Signature Experience.
- Terry Fox ended his Marathon of Hope just east of Thunder Bay in 1980.
- Thunder Bay is the 6th most culturally diverse city of its size in North America
- Thunder Bay has the largest grain storage capacity in North America