People & Culture

Natural connection

A study shows spending time in the great Canadian outdoors can help immigrants feel more at home
  • Mar 31, 2012
  • 239 words
  • 1 minutes
A recent study shows Parks can play a role in introducing newcomers to Canadian society Expand Image
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Canada’s aging and increasingly urban population is placing financial stress on our national and provincial parks. As older generations transition away from camping and other traditional outdoor activities, choosing the comfy confines of hotels and camper vans, younger Canadians living in cities are pursuing more easily accessible urban recreational pursuits. Parks need to find novel ways to attract visitors — and new Canadians could be one of the answers.

Parks can play an important role in helping recently arrived immigrant families with their introduction to Canadian society, according to a study conducted by adult education professor Elizabeth Lange at Nova Scotia’s St. Francis Xavier University and Peter Vogels, a social work professor at Grant MacEwan University, in Edmonton. Drawing more visitors will help parks generate more revenue.

Lange says that more diversity in hiring and intercultural communication training for staff are two ways that parks can better understand the needs of new Canadians. “Newcomers often feel a sense of loss, but they are very open to reattaching. Visiting parks is one way they can do that.”

Forging alliances between government, immigrant service agencies and even private sector organizations is one way to address the issue, says Lange. She also believes that there’s value in a stronger link between language training and environmental literacy, which could help new Canadians improve their English and French skills and develop a stronger connection to the country’s natural landscapes at the same time.

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