Manitoba Immigration Minister Nancy Allan to visit Iceland next week

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Í þéttbygðustu svæðunum spanna sumrin frá mildu yfir í frekar hátt hitastig, þar sem að hiti í Montreal getur náð vel yfir 30°C og í Iqaluit í Nunavut allt upp í 15°C. Í Vancouver er hitastig yfirleitt á milli 0 til 25°C allt árið um kring, en aftur á móti á sléttunum fer það allt niður í -40°C á veturna og upp í 35°C á sumrin.

The most recent article on the efforts between the governments of Manitoba and Iceland to streamline immigration so that Icelandic immigrants can more easily live and work in Manitoba can be seen here:

Allan will travel to Reykjavik on Tuesday to sort out the details of a new immigration agreement to help find jobs in Manitoba for some of the thousands of unemployed workers in the economically devastated country.

But she's getting a little nervous because "word is getting out in Iceland" that she is coming.

Atli Asmundsson, the consul general for Iceland in Manitoba, said there is "considerable interest" in Iceland about moving to Manitoba, and Allan's visit will be a big event.

"I dare say it will have quite a lot of attention paid to it," he said.


Asmundsson said that although it is not all that common for people to want to leave their country, for an Icelander, moving to Manitoba is "completely different" because Manitoba has such a large Icelandic community.

"It makes it seem not as far away as 5,000 kilometres really is," Asmundsson said.

Allan's office has been working with Asmundsson and other Icelandic officials for the last several weeks on a program to help facilitate the move, and on Tuesday she will travel to the country to meet with her counterpart there and get the workings of a deal signed.


In particular, the province is looking at the information technology, biotechnology, geothermal energy, health care and social services sectors, where there is a need in Manitoba and a lot of skilled workers in Iceland.

As always, there's a comment below (and might be more later) to the effect of "well what about the unemployed here, don't they care about that?" to which the answer is:

1) Seeking skilled immigrants in one area doesn't necessarily mean not caring about the unemployed in another. If a city or a province is lacking in the skilled labour needed for a certain industry then the only options are either to educate more people in that field (takes time) or bring them in. And:

2) Canada already has a yearly immigrant quota, a certain number (300,000 I think) that it wants to bring in every year to keep the economy growing and avoid an aging population. Most of the time though immigration moves from one less-developed country to another more developed country, but in this particular case Iceland (the most developed country in the world) has hit a hard spell and people are looking for jobs. For a country seeking immigrants, this is a gold mine. These immigrants are highly educated, very good at English, and need no adjustment to the idea of living in a democratic country.

As for the reason why an Icelander would want to move to a place with a lot of Icelandic culture: a lot of English speakers enjoy the idea of moving to a place where nobody speaks English, where they can find a corner in some part of the world where their own culture doesn't penetrate, which is why countries like Thailand or out-of-the-way places in Central America are so popular. For someone from Iceland however (and now I'm just guessing because I'm not from there) Icelandic culture only goes as far as one's own country of 300,000, maybe a certain amount in the Faroese Islands and somewhat in Scandinavia, but that's about it. In the middle of all that it must be comforting to know of one place where there is at least a small island of one's own culture. Maybe some others can tell me more. What's the difference as an Icelander between living and working in a place like Gimli compared to some other city in Canada...let's say Edmonton?


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