Letter to the editor: Clare is not a place to avoid

Published on April 14, 2014

Lots of Acadian colour. TINA COMEAU PHOTO

My name is Denise Alison and I am a 26-year-old entrepreneur who lives in Clare. This letter is in response to the article “Dying towns: 10 towns in Canada smart immigrants avoid” which has gone viral recently. Clare and its surrounding towns Yarmouth and Digby all make this list.

I question the content of this article as there is no reference indicating what factors were used to create this list. Is it the unemployment rate, wages, or population decline? Or is it driving time from a major city? Other red flags are stating that Yarmouth is the lobster capital of Canada (I have a feeling a few people in Shediac would disagree with you), alluding to “historic Acadia” in the bit about Digby, but making no reference to Acadians in the write-up about Clare (or Shippagan for that matter), and the fact that it is filled with grammatical errors.

The photo used to depict Clare is a photo of the Meteghan post office. Ask most people what image they would use to represent Clare and they would quickly say fishing boats, la Baie en Joie, or even the Acadian flag. The same source, Immigroup, published a similar article in April 2013, and it has an entirely different list (Top 8 worst places to move to in Canada). These oddities give me the feeling that the authors of this article have no idea what these communities are like and have never visited here. One factor they definitely did not measure was quality of life, opportunity, and overall happiness.

It is not a huge surprise that areas in southwest Nova Scotia are not on a top 10 list of most thriving communities. I've watched a lot of friends “go out west” and I've seen many shops and bars close. But if i wanted to live in a place with the most bars per area, I'd move to St. John's – which I did actually, and it was not as great as it sounds. I moved away from Clare after High School to attend University. I was away for 6 years. I had the opportunity to live anywhere I wanted to in the world, and I chose to live in Clare.

When I look around, I do not see a “dying town”, I see a vibrant Acadian community filled with arts and culture. Clare is the only municipality in Nova Scotia that conducts business and offers services in both official languages. This is the home of numerous world renowned artists. There is a University here that excels in the programs that it provides. People come from all over the continent to attend their French immersion program. I see young families all around me and there is so much potential for young people here. I've had opportunities that would not even be possible in other areas. I am a Director for the Chamber of Commerce, along with a surprising number of other young people. I am a young entrepreneur, so having people in the community support me and want to help me succeed is very important.

When friends from away ask me what there is to do in Clare, I always have a lot to tell them. Clare is located on the shore of St. Mary's Bay, but also reaches far into the woods, which means there are beaches, lakes, rivers, and plenty of forested areas. There are golf courses, campgrounds, beaches, picnic parks, and hiking trails throughout the community. In addition to outdoor activities, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities and groups to join in Clare.

Clare and surrounding communities have a lot of interesting projects in the works, especially in the area of green energy. Université Sainte Anne has been proclaimed the greenest university in Canada. The Municipality of Clare has invested in an Ecoparc which has a recycling facility, hosts a facility for Cooke's Aquaculture, and will be the first commercial facility for CelluFuel (producers of green bio diesel). Initiatives such as this, and the return of the Yarmouth Ferry, provide business and

employment opportunities.
Living in rural Nova Scotia may not be for everyone, but I would never trade it for rush hour and smog. Cheers, (where everybody knows your name)

 

Denise Alison,

Saint Alphonse