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Cultivating Welcoming Communities in a Neoliberal Era: Narrative Meets Practice in Rural Saskatchewan

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Abstract

The Canadian province of Saskatchewan, and particularly rural Saskatchewan, has an ageing population and has experienced a great deal of out-migration in recent years. As a result, its labour force has been shrinking over time (Moazzami, 2015). International migration has been viewed as one way to reverse negative population growth and boost the economy of the region. Several programs and initiatives have been developed to successfully attract and welcome international migrants to Saskatchewan’s rural areas. Despite this, retention is poor, with many immigrants choosing to move on to other destinations. In this paper, I argue that effectively welcoming immigrants in a context where they are seen primarily as economic actors poses a number of political, discursive and practical challenges. The economic rationale for immigration tends to reduce, somewhat ironically, the welcome that is extended. This paper is based on an analysis of information generated through interviews with key informants, all of whom are individuals engaged in the work of welcoming immigrants in different parts of rural Saskatchewan.

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Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Michelle Nguyen for her outstanding research assistance.

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Correspondence to Melissa Kelly.

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Kelly, M. Cultivating Welcoming Communities in a Neoliberal Era: Narrative Meets Practice in Rural Saskatchewan. Int. Migration & Integration 24 (Suppl 5), 939–956 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12134-023-01080-2

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