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The population of Nova Scotia grew by almost 5,000 people in the past 12 months, as recently reported by Statistics Canada.

The growth was attributed to immigration, the result of many Syrians refugees arriving in the province, through the Federal election promise to bring 25,000 Syrians refugees to Canada.

Without immigration, the population of the province would be on a declining trend, where provincial death rates exceeded birth rates in the first quarter of 2016 by more than 500.
Population growth is a pillar to advancing the economy of Nova Scotia.  With a growth in population, communities advance, incomes are circulated and businesses flourish while adapting to the needs of the population.  A larger pool of individuals are further able to fund the tax base needed to provide the services Canadians have grown accustom to from their municipal, provincial and federal governments.

In 1981, there were six Nova Scotians working for every retired citizen.  By 2031, current trends predict the ratio will be reduced to three to one.

An important element in population growth is the attraction and retention of immigrants and in-migrants.  Paramount to attracting these individuals is fostering a diverse, inclusive and welcoming community.

Recently in the United States, a number of governments and communities have been resistant to the societal trend to offer gender neutral washroom facilities to individuals who identify themselves to a sex other than the one identified on their birth certificate.

Celebrities and Corporate America have united to voice displeasure with government policy and the treatment of sectors of society.

A number of musicians have cancelled concerts in states where discriminatory policies exist, while multiple corporate enterprises have ceased investment in these regions as a sign of support and respect.

These powerful actions show that close-minded and discriminatory actions will not be tolerated and further prone to financial consequences.  Within our own community, the conversation seems to be shifting, where a number of demonstrable actions have recently been displayed.

In early June, Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus raised the Mi’kmaq Grand Council Flag in recognition of the campus residing on ceded land the Mi’Kmaq people once resided in the late 18th and early 19th century.

The act will allow the Mi’kmaq community to further educate citizens of the region of the historical significance of the area while attempting to heal and forge new relationships between the two groups.

And in mid-June, in the wake of a terrorist attack on the LBGT community at a night club in Orlando, the Town of Truro relaxed a standing policy on flying the pride flag as a show of support for those who lost their lives in Orlando.  The Dalhousie Agricultural Campus raised the pride flag as well.

The recent actions of leaders within the Town of Truro and Dalhousie University Agricultural Campus reflect a shift happening within Colchester on embracing, welcoming and including the diverse cultures present in the area.

The shift will provide a community where residents, immigrants and indigenous people feel welcome, eventually leading to higher retention and participation rates within the community, further contributing to the culture and economy of the region.

Andrew Lake is president of the Truro & Colchester Chamber of Commerce.