Canada’s Northern Territories are not common destinations for immigrants. Many potential immigrants perceive that the smaller communities and harsh climate will make integration more difficult. The reality, however, is that many immigrants to the Northwest Territories, Yukon, or Nunavut have adjusted well and thrived in their new communities. The Yukon, the only Territory with a Nominee Program, is working to bring in immigrants quickly, to fill labour shortages and sustain the growing economy.
Upon arriving in the Northern Territories, newcomers may have a few difficulties acclimatizing. The cold, the limited variety of ethnic foods, and the path of the Northern sun are some of the factors that immigrants must get used to. For Muslim immigrants, the land of the midnight sun in the summer and the 24 hour darkness in the dead of winter make the sunrise and sunset prayers a bit tricky. Nonetheless, the lure of abundant job opportunities has been drawing more and more immigrants north. There are more than 110 ethnicities living in Yellowknife, the capital of the Northwest Territories. In this booming frontier city, a little mosque on the edge of the Arctic has become a crowded hub for the Muslim faith. “In a big city, it’s much easier to become isolated in your religious community and not consider the outside world,” explained a recent immigrant to Yellowknife. “This is such a small community that you have to be a part of it. We have to engage with other religions […] it’s good for me and good for my religion.”
The Yukon Nominee Program (YNP) allows the Government of Yukon to nominate potential immigrants for Canadian Permanent Residency who can contribute to the territory’s labour market and economic growth. To qualify for the YNP, applicants must meet minimum requirements for the Skilled Worker Program or the Business Program.
Skilled Worker Program – This program is designed to help Yukon employers recruit immigrants to fill vacant positions. There are two streams to this employer-driven program; Skilled Worker and Critical Impact Worker. Eligibility criteria for the two streams are similar, however, for the Skilled Worker Program, the applicant must have a permanent full-time job offer from a Yukon employer in a higher-skilled occupation whereas the Critical Impact Worker is designed to bring in workers to fill job openings in lower-skilled occupations. The applicants must have the required training, education, work experience, and accreditation for the position being offered and they must have sufficient language skills to communicate in the work place. Applicants cannot be refugee claimants; they must have sufficient financial or settlement supports.
Business Program – Again, there are two streams to this program; Entrepreneur and Self-Employed. Entrepreneurs or business owners must submit a business plan for their new business, their purchase of an existing business, or their investment as a management partner of an existing business. Applicants must have sufficient language skills and the experience and education to implement the business plan. They must satisfy the requirements for minimum investment in the business and personal net worth. The Self-Employed category is designed for professionals who can provide in-demand services in the Yukon. The applicant’s profession must be among those identified as professional skill shortages in the Yukon. Applicants must have the education, work experience, licensing and accreditation, and the language skills necessary to execute the business plan.