Immigrants Bring Wealth of Work Skills

Winnipeg Free Press

By Staff Writer

The work experience and professional backgrounds of the 900 African provincial nominee immigrants who have come to Manitoba over the last four years are as diverse as the ethnic mix of the province.

Maple Leaf Foods in Brandon likely employs the largest number of those immigrants today.

Already a virtual United Nations of employees, over the last couple years close to 200 people from Mauritius, the tiny island nation off the southeast coast of the African continent, are now working at Maple Leaf.

They join a large contingent of Latin American, Chinese and Ukrainian workers already there.

The majority of immigrants from Mauritius who came to Brandon were recruited by Maple Leaf or were family members of workers recruited by the meat processor.

Blake Crothers, director of communications for the union representing workers at Maple Leaf’s Brandon plant — Local 832 of the United Food and Commercial Workers — said, “It’s a real melting pot there. It’s become very diversified and they (immigrant workers) are staying, buying homes and establishing networks.”

“Five years ago or so we had about 500 non-English-speaking people living in Brandon. Now we have over 8,000,” Brandon Mayor Shari Decter Hirst told the Free Press about a year ago.

“But Brandon is meeting that challenge and there is no denying the economic impact those people bring to our community.”

Read more here. (And check out the full Africa Edition, with stories about African refugees and immigrants in Manitoba.)