Sault Ste. Marie Helps New Residents Feel Right At Home
The city of Sault Ste. Marie (with a population of 75,000) is actively seeking to attract new residents and pulling out all the stops to support them with making the place home.
Situated on the Canada-U.S. border in Northern Ontario, the vibrant city offers newcomers with plenty of economic and employment opportunities, in addition to easy access to nature, including waterscapes and hiking trails.
“Sault Ste. Marie is the best place you can ever live with your family. When we came with my family, we got a very big reception from people we don’t even know,” says Felix Koros, who moved to the city from Kenya his wife and five children in December 2022.
In 2019, Koros, a qualified light aircraft maintenance engineer, successfully applied for a job with JD Aero, an aircraft maintenance provider based in Sault Ste. Marie, and received an offer of employment from the company while overseas. After a delay, partly due to the pandemic, Koros and his family were able to move to the city in late 2022, through the recently launched Rural and Northern Immigration Pilot (RNIP) Program.
Sault Ste. Marie encourages local employers to use the RNIP program to help fill the local labour market needs. In 2022, Lackeisha Sogah, Labour Force Development Coordinator for the city and point person for RNIP applications, oversaw 213 successful applications, bringing in new residents to the community from both within Canada and overseas.
Koros says that assistance he received with his application for permanent residence and the work permit was vital to him and his family finally being able to make the move to Canada.
The local community helped Koros and his family in their settlement process. On his first day in the city, and while out grocery shopping, Koros happened to meet Jane Omollo, founding president of Sault Ste. Marie’s ACCANO (African Caribbean Canadian Association of Northern Ontario), while. Thirty minutes later, with snow coming down heavily, Omollo and her husband were driving Koros and his groceries back to his new home.
Interactions like this are not new to Omollo. “I like to connect, I like to reach out and if I am able to help in way, I will not hesitate. You never know how you can be important to somebody’s life.”
This chance encounter was just the start of their friendship. “I have been in constant touch with him. I continued to reach out and provide them with support that they need so that they can settle down and really call Sault Ste. Marie home and have that sense of belonging,” she says.
Koros has made other connections in the city too. On his second day in the city, Lackeisha Sogah helped him pick up more winter essentials. And colleagues from JD Aero helped him learn to drive in Canada.
ACCANO boasts around 100 active members living in Sault Ste. Marie, and there are other cultural groups including NOLHA (Northern Ontario Latin-Hispanic Association), the Filipino Canadian Community of Sault Ste. Marie and Indians [South Asian] of Sault Ste. Marie. Cultural groups aren’t the only ones provide settlement support. Cycling groups, skiing groups, theatre groups and others have stories of welcoming newcomers to Sault Ste. Marie and helping them make the city home.
So, four months in, how is the Koros family doing?
“[This summer] I plan to go fishing and visiting all the parks here. We are also planning on going on the Agawa Tour train. My children said they really enjoy the city and want to live here forever. There is no hassle, no traffic, you can reach your destination within two minutes from wherever you are. This is a place to be. A place to live. An amazing, amazing, amazing community.”
For more information about moving to Sault Ste. Marie or the RNIP program, please visit https://welcometossm.com/rnip/