1 New Brunswick’s Acadia has undergone a major transformation in its socio-institutional trajectory since the early 2000s : from a minority French-speaking community  demanding institutional autonomy  and French-language services, it has become a host community  for Francophone immigrants through activism  and the law  (Farmer, 2008). This new situation represents a major change in terms of the quest for resources to protect the Acadian community’s vitality, previously focused on demand for French-language services and linguistic duality in education and health (Sall and Boubacar, 2018).
2 Yet, by becoming entitled to receive immigrants, has Acadia turned into a host community in practice? Given its small French-language labour market, does it have all the necessary institutions and resources to ensure the integration of Francophone newcomers who choose it as a host community? As a minority seeking to protect itself against assimilation while preserving its specific identity, what model of economic integration does it offer to immigrants? In other words, does Acadia have a volitive attitude in line with its declarations of intent?
3 To answer these questions, a qualitative methodology consisting of semi-structured interviews and desk research was adopted. Interviews were conducted with seventy-eight immigrants  from France, Belgium, the Maghreb and Sub-Saharan Africa. Contact was made through networks of contacts and by word-of-mouth, facilitated by the small size of the community. Sixteen of these immigrants were students,  mainly from West Africa. They were questioned about their motives for choosing New Brunswick’s Acadia as a destination, but also their migration and professional trajectories and the challenges and opportunities in the provincial labour market. Nine students (among the sixteen) were enrolled in the nursing programme. They were interviewed to document instances of racial discrimination that had been repeatedly reported by their association.  These students were selected in our sample for their good academic results (all had obtained grades between B+ and A+) and diligence. The aim was to avoid confusion between failure related to low academic achievement and failure as a result of racial discrimination.
4 Based on the answers given by the seventy-eight participants in the survey, employment niches recruiting a significant number of Francophone immigrants were identified: banks, call centres, residential care homes for the elderly, fish and seafood processing industries, etc. Immigrants highlighted potential employment niches from which they are excluded or in which they experience discrimination. To confirm their statements, interviews were requested with employers in these provincial labour market sectors. Three employers accepted our requests for interviews: two bank branch managers in Moncton  and the manager of a major call centre in the Moncton area, where a third of the staff are immigrants and international students. Questions focused on the reasons for hiring Francophone immigrants and issues related to integration and diversity management in the workplace. The acceptance and refusal of interview requests by employers explain why more detailed descriptions and analyses are provided for the banking and insurance sectors than for the education and health sectors.
5 Although the scope of the survey was the whole province, Moncton was our control space,  where most of the interviews (fifty-four) were conducted. The cities of Edmundston, Fredericton, Saint John and Bathurst were considered for comparison purposes in order to highlight, where applicable, regularities and variations in the socio-demographic characteristics of immigrants covered by this study, as well as their career paths and their differentiated integration into the labour market.
6 Alongside interviews, we carried out desk research which highlighted contrasts among the economic integration models of immigrant groups in different social contexts. The material collected (interviews and secondary data) was reviewed in light of the central research question: what model of economic integration does New Brunswick’s Acadia, which has become a host community through law and activism, offer to “these”  immigrants?
7 In this article, we will focus on links between some of the societal characteristics of New Brunswick’s Acadia and the economic integration model it offers to “these” Francophone newcomers. Immigration to New Brunswick’s Acadia takes place in an unprecedented context: this Francophone minority community has become a host community not because a large number of immigrants are settling there, but as result of public policies aimed at attracting immigrants (Paquet, 2016).
8 Our findings are presented in three parts. First, we describe the main societal characteristics of New Brunswick’s Acadia as a host community for Francophone immigrants in order to highlight the unprecedented nature of the context in which the reception and economic integration of Francophone newcomers takes place. Second, drawing on the literature on the economic integration of immigrants in various societal contexts, we briefly discuss existing ideal types of economic integration, to enable us, in the third part of this article, to better define the model of marginal economic integration (in circumstantial  and structural  employment niches) that New Brunswick’s Acadia offers to “these” immigrants.
Multi-Dimensional Institutional Incompleteness and Francophone Immigration
9 New Brunswick’s Acadia is defined as a host community that should be placed in the continuum of host societies diversified by the extension of migration dynamics on a global scale (Simon, 2008). Such a classification is not without value: it enables us to consider the type of society into which new Francophone immigrants have to integrate and, more specifically, the challenges they face in terms of economic integration.
10 A quick review of the literature shows that several classifications of host societies and communities exist. A macroeconomic classification,  a spatial classification  and what we will call an institutional classification, which is our own and needs to be conceptualised and tested against empirical data.
11 The institutional classification proposed refers not only to receiving countries or states, but also to provinces or communities, like Acadia. It is based on the criterion of institutional completeness  in the area of immigration. By this we mean the political and- ideological will and the societal and economic capacity of countries or communities to receive and integrate immigrants based on the social, political, economic and community institutions available to them. Institutional completeness in the area of immigration should be considered as an ideal type since, in reality, there is no receiving country or community that fully achieves it. However, some receiving countries and communities can be considered as coming close to the ideal type to varying degrees. This is the case of a country like Germany, which, despite the influx of more than one million refugees, mostly Syrians, was able to set up, in a relatively short period of time, reception structures (Tucci, 2016) and educational institutions designed to foster their socio-economic integration,  in contrast with Greece, stricken by an acute economic crisis.
12 The achievement of institutional completeness in the area of immigration essentially relies on two factors, the first political and ideological and the second economic. Clearly, the institutional completeness of a host country or community in the area of immigration is largely determined by its level of economic development and, more specifically, by the capacity of absorption of its labour market. However, this condition, while necessary, is far from sufficient. The political will to receive plays a very important role in achieving institutional completeness in the area of immigration, as shown by the situation in countries that are wealthy but erect walls to prevent the reception of migrants as far as possible (Leblanc and Brugère, 2017). This is the case of Japan, whose institutional incompleteness in the area of immigration seems to be the result of a mythology and ideology based on the nation’s uniqueness (Sabouret, 1993; Rochel, 2017).
13 In Acadian Francophone communities outside Quebec, institutional incompleteness in the area of immigration exists at several levels: linguistic, political and geographic. This multi-dimensional institutional incompleteness creates barriers to the economic integration of immigrants into the regional labour market.
14 At the linguistic level, institutional incompleteness in the area of immigration is reflected in the near necessity of mastering English in order to ensure economic integration (FCFA, 2004) and be able to live daily life in the host community, despite the fact that it is Francophone. Francophone immigrants know and acknowledge that without mastering English, their professional projects are doomed to failure (Sall and Boubacar, 2018).
15 Acadia’s institutional incompleteness in the area of immigration is also of a political nature. In Canada, immigration is a domain of shared jurisdiction between the federal government and the provinces. With the support of the federal government, whose main objectives include the regionalisation of immigration, Acadia and the Canadian Francophone minorities have become host communities.  However, New Brunswick’s Acadia community and other Canadian Francophone minority communities lack states or a comprehensive range of institutions enabling them to fully assume their status as host communities. They do not, for example, have a law (Bill 101)  that compels Francophone immigrants to send their children to French schools. In the absence of a transfer of powers and resources, New Brunswick’s Acadia, like other Canadian Francophone minority communities, is unable to implement its own model for the integration of Francophone immigrants.
16 Finally, Acadia’s institutional incompleteness in the area of immigration is geographical. Immigration from abroad is essentially an urban phenomenon. There is an elective affinity between foreigners and cities, as the latter offer a network of institutions, products, services, community resources (presence of members of the community), employment opportunities, and even an environment sought after by foreigners. Cities in Acadia and the Maritime provinces are too small compared to Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver (the MTV), where virtually 80% of immigrants converge, explaining the persistent problem of retention  in Acadian communities.
17 According to authors like Savoie (2006), the spatial disadvantage of the Maritime provinces and Acadia in receiving and retaining a significant number of immigrants is the result of discriminatory regional development policies pursued by the federal government. These policies have given the country’s central provinces (Ontario and Quebec) an advantage in terms of industrialisation and economic development. This is because these jurisdictions, which are more densely populated than the Maritimes and Acadia, have obvious political clout. They are therefore courted by political parties seeking to gain or retain power.
Is There an Economic Integration Model for Acadia?
18 Faced with multi-dimensional institutional incompleteness in the area of immigration, what model of economic integration does Acadia offer to “these” Francophone immigrants? Can it draw inspiration from known models of economic integration?
19 Research by Gordon (1964) established that the integration of newcomers into their host community has social, cultural and economic dimensions. The latter component is the one of interest to us in this article since it is the sine qua non for successful social and cultural integration. Economic integration of newcomers depends on a complex of factors such as their cultural capital (diplomas, skills and work experience), similarities between their ethno-racial characteristics and those of the host community, social characteristics of the host community and opportunities in the labour market.
20 A contrastive perspective on the economic integration pathways of various immigrant communities in host countries and communities with different immigration policies and economic structures allows us to distinguish several models of immigrant economic integration: the classical assimilationist model, the segmented assimilation model, the secondary labour market integration model and the ethnic economy integration model. These integration models are ideal types that are never fully realised in a host community or country. They are always juxtaposed in a given space-time.
21 Public authorities seem to consider the classical assimilationist model as the best one. This model describes the process of dissolution of immigrants into the host society (Park, 1950). The dissolution of minority groups into the host society necessarily implies that they are employed in the same jobs as the majority group: they are not confined to sectors of the labour market that are neglected by local residents, since their skills are recognised, and they do not suffer direct, indirect or systemic employment discrimination.
22 This model seems to prevail when members of the host community and immigrants share similar ethno-racial characteristics and skills, which largely mitigates discrimination against the latter. Thus, European immigrants blended into the US “melting pot” in a relatively short period of time, as described by the sociologist Park (1950).
23 The segmented assimilation model focuses on the relationship between immigrant communities on the one hand and class structures and social hierarchies of the host community on the other. Accordingly, this model highlights the differentiated patterns of economic integration of immigrants and their children. Non-racialised immigrants with cultural capital similar or equivalent to that of the middle class in the host society tend to be employed in skilled jobs and to identify with the middle class. Racialised immigrants or those with low cultural capital tend to be confined to segments of the labour market with low-skilled or blue-collar jobs. Their children, who are often victims of racial discrimination, experience school drop-out, racial profiling, police repression and end up joining the underprivileged classes in the host country (Portes, 1995).
24 The model of segmented assimilation has been a fairly relevant framework for describing the differential economic integration of white European and racialised immigrants in US society and in North America in general. We know that in Acadia and in Canadian Francophone minority communities, French and Belgian immigrants seem to obtain more socially desirable jobs than immigrants from North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa (Madibbo, 2020). The development of this model is a result of the critique of classical assimilation which seems to apply only to white European immigrants in the United States (Schnapper, 1998).
25 The secondary labour market immigrant integration model is based on the observation that occupations and jobs are classified according to the skills required from workers and that there is a clear differentiation in the pay scales and social prestige associated with jobs. Not all jobs are equal in terms of their prestige and the rewards and remuneration they provide. Piore (1979) distinguishes two labour markets: the primary  and the secondary market. 
26 Due to racial discrimination and sometimes a mismatch between immigrants’ skills and the skills required by employers, immigrants tend to move into the labour-intensive secondary labour market, deserted by nationals as soon as they have the opportunity.
27 In New Brunswick’s Acadia, the secondary labour market is mainly made up of labour-intensive jobs: seafood processing, agriculture, hotel and catering industries, and care attendant jobs in residential care homes for the elderly (Sall and Boubacar, 2018). In this article we prefer to use the notion of structural employment niches instead of the concept of secondary labour markets. The reasons for this are as follows: not all the jobs that are mainly held by immigrants in New Brunswick’s Acadia are “dirty” and not all are low-paid (as in the case of certain call centres or the recent evolution of the working conditions of care attendants in long-term residential care homes for the elderly).
28 In addition to the secondary labour market, sociologists such as Light and Gold (2000), looking at immigrant entrepreneurs and their employees, have highlighted the existence of a third labour market called the ethnic labour market.
29 This market is called ethnic because of its concentration of immigrants. These immigrants may be entrepreneurs recruiting their fellow compatriots, in which case it is an appropriate ethnic market (Light and Gold, 2000). Often immigrants promote the recruitment of their compatriots by local employers. This shows a controlled ethnic market (Light and Gold, 2000).
30 Highlighting these four models of integration is not without value. Logically, it leads to the following question: can New Brunswick’s Acadia, as a minority community that receives immigrant minorities, draw on one of the economic integration models (the classic assimilationist model, the segmented assimilation model, the secondary labour market integration model, and the integration model in an ethnic economy)? Given the centrality of work as a vehicle for integration and recognition, how can Acadia integrate “these” immigrants in view of its multi-dimensional institutional incompleteness in the area of immigration? Given the small size of the Francophone labour market and the predominance of English, can Acadians and Francophone immigrants form a Francophone society together without the latter having access to quality jobs?  What kind of economic integration can Francophone immigrants expect? What could be the logical links between the societal characteristics of this Francophone minority community and the economic integration of Francophone immigrants? Can New Brunswick’s Acadia create social ties with “these” immigrants outside of work. just by inviting them to be part of the Francophone society and to defend the French language in the face of a predominantly English-speaking population?
Integrating in The Margins
31 Given its multi-dimensional institutional incompleteness in the area of immigration and the small size of its labour market, Acadia seems to offer “these” immigrants economic integration in the margins. This situation manifests itself in the exclusion of immigrants from the employment niches of their host community and their integration into the circumstantial and structural employment niches of the local labour market.
Exclusion from the Host Community’s Employment Niches
32 In New Brunswick’s Acadia, the French-language labour market is small, but fairly labour intensive. The two sectors in question are education and health care. These two sectors have emerged as a result of linguistic duality being applied more rigorously in Canada’s only officially bilingual province (Foucher, 2012). As a host community, the recruitment of Francophone immigrants with degrees in teaching or health might be expected. However, this is not the case. Discrimination in the employment of Francophone immigrants seems to exist on the grounds of identity.
The Contradictory Dual Mission of Minority Francophone Schools in New Brunswick’s Acadia
33 The situation in French-language education at the elementary and secondary levels is paradoxical: there is a significant shortage of teachers, especially in the Francophone southern district.  Competition is exacerbated by the Anglophone district, which recruits both graduating students from the University of Moncton’s Faculty of Education and new immigrants from France and Belgium into its French immersion programs. The needs are so great that the Anglophone district directly recruits from abroad.
34 However, testimonies provided by many newcomers seem to show that French-language schools do not want to recruit teachers from other Francophone countries. According to one district official:  “Things are changing. [...] The district is taking part in Destination Acadie  with the aim of attracting new European teachers.” No changes were observed on the ground. On the contrary, Kouakou is still the only permanent teacher from abroad.
35 In practice, in the sector of primary and secondary French-language education (the situation is very different in higher education), an ethnic preference for the recruitment of Acadian teachers seems to exist. This preference can be explained principally by the contradictory dual mission of minority French-language schools: academic learning and identity building. Kamano and Benimmas (2017) rightly point out the extent to which this contradictory dual mission makes the positive management of diversity in classrooms problematic.
36 This dual mission is implemented through the pedagogy of inclusion and the pedagogy of ripple effects. The first, with a view to engaging and enabling all students to succeed, involves “the individualisation of the teaching/learning process and valuing the uniqueness of each learner, but also the consideration of all the dimensions of the individual in the training objectives pursued” (Kamano and Benimmas, 2017: 22).
37 As for the pedagogy of ripple effects, which seems to predominate, it “goes from the individual to the community and back to the individual” (Kamano and Benimmas, 2017). The main components of this pedagogy are: the promotion and transmission of the French language and Acadian culture, the neutralisation of anglicising forces and pride in being Acadian (GACEF, 2014). This approach carries the inherent risk of failing to take into account diversity, or even homogenising the teaching workforce. The idea seems to prevail that to transmit Acadian culture, one must be Acadian. Several Francophone immigrants specialising in teaching reported that during job interviews they were often asked: “What will you do to defend and transmit Acadian culture?”
38 This question, only addressed to Francophone immigrants, seems to highlight a biological conception of culture as well as an ethnic conception of the Acadian nation. Only ‘full-blooded Acadians’ are thought to be able to defend and reproduce the nation through education, as the legitimate bearers of Acadian culture. In contrast, foreigners cannot be trusted because of their exteriority to Acadian culture or because of their lack of will or commitment to defend Acadia.
39 Thus, these immigrants, whom Acadia led to believe that they could be part of a French-speaking society in a minority context, realise that their welcome is purely symbolic. Many of them turn to Quebec, where language and culture seem more closely linked. Others go to places where the French-language itself is seen as an asset. They are often welcomed in an English-speaking school district that views the use of language not as a cultural issue, but as a technical necessity to prepare students for the bilingual labour market.
French-Language Health Services, a Potential Niche that is Struggling to Emerge
40 French-language health services are another potential niche for the recruitment of a significant number of immigrants. However, discrimination appears to be intense both in training, particularly in the context of internships,  and in the workplace.  Discrimination is combined with a closure of this sector of the labour market to immigrants who received training abroad. 
41 The French-language nursing training programme in New Brunswick has always attracted international students from French-speaking Sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti. About thirty of them have enrolled in the programme, but only three or four students have graduated. This is not only due to the failure of students who do not have the required level, but, partly, because of racial discrimination.
42 Amanda, a student of Congolese origin who had completed three years of medical studies at the University of Bukavu, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, describes the discrimination she allegedly suffered, even though she never considered herself a victim of discrimination. Amanda, who insisted on showing us her transcripts, had excellent results in all her subjects but said she had experienced two arbitrary failures in her internships:
“During the second year, internship supervisors choose their favourite students and put the others aside. […] My first internship went really well. But in my second internship, [...] I did my things, there was no one to tell me you did this wrong. My supervisor made no comments. [...] Then, I learned that I had failed. Without feedback. [...]. It’s a big blow.”
44 Karamba and Dalanda, both from West Africa, echo Amanda’s statements. It should be noted that both are mature students (twenty-six years and above). Karamba was already a medical doctor. He worked for NGOs such as Action contre la Faim and UNICEF while practising in an African University Hospital. Dalanda holds a degree in economics from France.
45 According to Dalanda and Karamba, who passed their theory courses without much difficulty, often with good grades, the problem, as Amanda pointed out above, is discriminatory grades for internships:
“During the winter session, I had a supervisor, she was always telling me: ‘It’s very good’, ‘You’re doing a good job’. When someone tells me ‘You’re doing very well, you’re doing a good job’, you expect to get a good mark. [...] She gave me a C+. I protested and she didn’t like it. I went to see the course leader, I spoke to her. She said: ‘Ah, ok we’ll see’. They didn’t even change the grade in the end.”
47 Karamba considered that the supervisors’ discriminatory attitude had a significant technical dimension:
“There’s also a particular aspect that I want to highlight. During internships, they assign patients to you for you to take care of. But if they really want you to fail, it’s going to be really difficult not to fail. Because they give you the most difficult patients who don’t like black people or who have really serious health issues to deal with. These are patients who have chronic illnesses that need acute care, like people who are on Dilaudid, which is morphine every four hours, and you really have to monitor it. You’re a second-year student, you’re not supposed to have these patients. Why not? Because you do acute illnesses in the third year. We did it this session. They tell you to get on with it and they give you the patient. And if, by mistake, you make just one little mistake there, you’re screwed. They use it to tell you: ‘You weren’t safe with your patient. Go home. That’s it for you. You’ve failed your internship’.”
49 According to Karamba, the assignment of chronically ill patients requiring acute care between international and Canadian students is highly unfair and asymmetrical:
“Often they bring us to the hospital in teams of three or four students. But I end up with three patients who need this kind of care, and my Canadian colleague only gets two patients who are independent, who don’t even need care. You run, you do this shift for twelve hours without a break. She’s sitting there behind the computer and pretending to do her data entry when she has no work to do. She doesn’t do anything.”
51 Karamba stated that, in addition to the technical dimension of patient assignment, there is also discrimination in terms of workload:
“It’s either that, or they give you a workload that considerably exceeds your limits, also to make you sink. Because there have been several times when I’ve done twelve-hour shifts and I haven’t even had a fifteen-minute break. Yes! Because if you take a fifteen-minute break, it’s over. [...] Because if you have three patients who are really in pain, in acute care, who are in pain all the time, you have to come back every thirty minutes to see to that pain. And you have to make notes about it. You have to inform the nurse, you have to inform your supervisor. But once you’ve done that, you have another patient with the same problems. When you finish with that one, you have to come back. You can’t even eat, you really can’t eat. [...] These are patients who are normally entrusted to expert nurses. So, for this kind of patient, you need to have a maximum limit. Not more than two. Even if you are an expert.”
53 These discriminatory attitudes lead to a number of consequences, the most important of which are disengagement and dropping out of the programme, but also depression as a result of undue and unnecessary pressure and intimidation.
54 As a result, some racialised international students who have experienced discrimination preferred to leave the programme and attend the Community College where they felt more valued and where they regained their self-esteem. At times, such discrimination and the hostile attitudes associated with it can lead to bouts of depression and endanger the mental health of victims.
Economic Integration in the Margins
55 Excluded from the core employment niches of their host community, such as French-language education and health care, Francophone immigrants integrate in the margins of the Francophone labour market and their host community, more specifically in the circumstantial and structural employment niches.
The Circumstantial Employment Niche
56 This niche mainly includes the bank branches of the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), the Toronto-Dominion Bank and especially the National Bank of Canada, but also online banks such as Tangerine and insurance companies such as First Canadian Title and Blue Cross. In practice, the circumstantial niche mainly recruits international students trained at the University of Moncton and the Community College. Banks, for example, employ over thirty international students who graduated from the University of Moncton.
57 Unlike the structural niche, the circumstantial niche does not experience a chronic shortage of labour. On the contrary: supply of work is greater than demand. This niche therefore attracts local residents as well as Francophone immigrants and graduating students. Its accessibility to Francophone immigrants and more specifically to graduating students from the University of Moncton is due to two main factors:
- A proactive policy of valuing diversity in the workplace on the part of certain recruiters;
- Successful trial of the first graduating internationals recruited, who definitively reassured the employers who had trusted them. This gain in confidence encouraged employers to recruit others, thus creating a positive upward spiral.
A Proactive Policy Aimed at Valuing Diversity
59 The policy to value diversity began with the National Bank of Canada at its Montreal head offices.  However, it was David,  the bank’s branch manager, who made it an operational reality in Moncton. He had no obligation to do so. He studied at the University of Moncton’s Faculty of Administration, with a focus on finance. Being in contact with international students from various Francophone countries in Africa and America made him accustomed to other cultures and to the value of cultural diversity and multiculturalism. He added, however, that his appreciation of diversity came, in large part, from his family culture:
“It runs in the family. I come from a family that started at the bottom of the ladder, very poor, and today they are multimillionaires and they have worked extremely hard. And here, I saw people like my mother, who doesn’t have much education. I started to look for ways to increase the number of women to ensure equality. I have six men and six women, so I do positive discrimination. [...] and I saw these young people [international students mostly from Africa] knocking on my door and they were saying nobody is hiring them. And I said no, I hired them, and they became our champions. It’s a personal fight that I’m doing in the region, because I felt there was a gap. But if we look at the national level, I think it’s going well. 18% is good. The number two on the Board of Directors is a woman. Forty languages are spoken at the bank and employees come from seventy countries.”
61 David successfully managed to apply his principles of valuing diversity in terms of recruitment. Five out of twelve of his employees are visible minorities. There are the same number in another National Bank branch (Elmwood Street) and at least three in the Dieppe branch. It should be noted that his hiring policy is perfectly in line with the bank’s vision that diversity in the workplace is important:
“We are the bank with the highest number of women on the Board of Directors, in fact the majority of bank directors in Atlantic Canada are women, Across Canada, 18% of our employees are visible minorities. In Atlantic Canada, when I came in, there were zero visible minorities working in the bank, and that was ten years ago. I was the one who hired the first one three years ago. Yet, Atlantic is part of Canada, where the rate is 18%. It was simply not part of the bank’s culture regionally, because this wave of international Francophone students educated in finance is new. I studied with them, so I decided to give them a chance. At first, it wasn’t easy. In Montreal, the head office, they experience it every day, but here, people were wondering: will they be able to adapt to the Acadian reality?”
A Successful Test
63 David is all the more motivated to pursue this policy of diversity in the workplace, given the undeniable success of the trial of the first international recruits. This is reflected in the high added value contributed by employees who are former international students from Francophone Sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb:
“Our international employee won the award of one of the top ten advisors in Canada, out of 450. So, after the first one, I saw the added value, at the branch, they bring culture, language, some of them speak three languages, so I decided to hire a second one from Guinea. He speaks four languages. [...] Now, other branches in the region are also hiring them.”
65 The success of this trial is mainly due to the fact that the international students recruited attract clients from the same ethnic, racial or national group as themselves, in a context of fierce competition between financial institutions. Thus, according to David:
“When I was at the other branch, we already had a lot of international students. I thought we were missing out, and when I hired the first international employee, I gave him my full confidence, and he developed a network that I didn’t have. Bringing a network is very valuable. [...] So, it certainly brings in a new clientele and that has increased customer satisfaction. And not only the international clientele, but also the Canadian clientele who really appreciate our international employees.”
The Structural Employment Niche: Call Centres
67 A niche is described as structural on the basis of three main factors:
- A chronic shortage of local labour in this sector of the labour market. As a result, the use of immigrants is necessary to keep these businesses running;
- Due to the relatively low level of English required, French-speaking immigrants can obtain jobs more easily;
- Finally, in some structural niche sectors such as call centres, their interactional skills are highly valued by employers, giving them a comparative advantage over the local workforce.
69 The structural employment niche includes jobs in residential care homes for the elderly, an Irving sanitary products factory in Moncton (tissues, baby nappies, paper towels), fish and seafood processing industries in Shediac and Cap-Pelé, hotel maintenance, day care services, and particularly the call centre industry. We will focus on the latter because of the significant number of immigrants recruited compared to other sectors in the structural employment niche (hotels, residential care homes, etc.). The call centre industry also serves to illustrate that migrants’ access to certain sectors of the labour market can be relatively open, provided that employers perceive the beneficial (often stereotypical) effects of recruiting them.
70 The concentration of international students in call centres was confirmed by the Human Resources Director of Aeroplan, Moncton’s largest call centre. She estimated that international students made up 30% of the company’s workforce which totalled about 750 employees. She considered the recruitment of international students to be a win-win option not only because they help fill the company’s critical labour shortage, but also because of their persuasiveness which enables them to perform very well in products sales and customer retention  in telephone and internet companies:
“Internationals are better salespeople than Canadians. When a customer wants to leave, for example, they are very persuasive in retaining them and keeping them even when the customer says no to the initial offer. Canadians tend to give up when the customer says no the first time. But maybe it’s their culture. They will insist and ask, but why do you want to leave us? They will take the time to talk to the customer. I think it’s cultural [...]. So, these are people, in general, whose capacity for persuasion is high. I can see that, not only with sales. In general, when they want something, they don’t give up when you say ‘no’ the first time [...].”
72 This director of a human resources department considered that, due to their culture of persuasion and discussion, Francophone international students bring added value to the company, which is reflected in their performance:
“Yes, if I take the average of non-internationals and internationals, probably the results of internationals are better than the others. Yes, it’s true that there are always people, whether they are Canadian or international, who don’t perform as they should. We’ve experienced that too. It’s a good thing when we hire internationals because they have the sales skills. It is easier to train them and get them to understand that this is what the job is about. You’re not going to steal anything from customers. It’s your job to sell. It’s easier for internationals to push without them feeling like they’re pushing, compared to the Canadians.”
74 She also saw other advantages in recruiting international students from Francophone Africa:
“What is also positive is that absenteeism rates for internationals are low. They get sick less often than the others. [...] I think that’s also related to culture. They don’t give up so easily. Then there is another motivator, for those who are thinking about their personal circumstances, it’s money. Internationals here at Aeroplan are motivated by money. No matter what else we can do, money is the main driver for them.”
An Instrumental Conception of Employment
76 Although employers in call centres value international students’ performance and resilience, the latter tend to have an instrumental view of their jobs and are above all keen to earn money. To do so, they do not hesitate to work during holidays or to do overtime.
“Internationals here at Aeroplan are motivated by money. No matter what else we can do, money is the main driver for them. [...] When I meet them for their interview, I say, “OK, how did you hear about Aeroplan? Do you know which job you applied for?” And 90% of them don’t know what position they’ve applied for, but they know the salary and they say to me, ‘I don’t know, but I know that there was one at $ 17 per hour’.” (Human Resources Director at Aeroplan)
78 In fact, pay levels in call centres are quite high, ranging from $ 14 to $ 17.90 per hour, which is above the provincial minimum wage of $ 11.70 per hour. Internationals also have the opportunity to earn bonuses based on their sales and retention performance. They end up earning more money than those who work in their specialist fields, in banks or in insurance companies. Thus, Sekouba, a Malian student who graduated in economics and finance in 2014 and who never sought to work in his field (banks, insurance or other companies as a financial analyst or financial advisor), stated that the main reason for his presence in this sector was money:
“One of the reasons I stayed at Aeroplan is because of the salary. There, the basic salary is $ 14.65, and we get a customer bonus of $ 3.25. I get paid $ 17.89. [...] Bonuses come with the hours worked. Now, if you do well, you can get a bonus, depending on your performance. [...] Aeroplan offers a lot of overtime up to more than 100 hours. Often, I was getting paid $ 1,900-2,000 for two weeks. But the annual salary without bonuses is in the $ 37-38,000 range. [...] My biggest bonus is $ 1,000 a month, but often it’s $ 100. Because the bonus is shared between agents who do the campaign, there are supervisors and managers who get a cut, but the closer you are to the target set by the client [the client here is Bell], the bigger the amount you get.”
80 It is mainly thanks to overtime that call centre employees are paid reasonable rates.
“It’s normally 40 hours, but they allow us to go up to 44 hours. Overtime is when you go over 44 hours. If they get a lot of calls or if forecasts show that there are a lot of calls coming, they can ask us to stay beyond 44 hours.” (Sekouba, graduate student and call centre employee)
82 The salary is a strong incentive to stay at Aeroplan, but in addition there are Bell Zone cards that allow international students to benefit from substantial discounts on household appliances or to get them free of charge. These cards are awarded to employees who have successfully retained Bell customers. According to Baye, a Senegalese graduate in biochemistry, who went on to work in the restaurant business, this reward system makes Aeroplan more attractive than ever to young students:
“It’s like gift cards. You can buy TVs, phones. In the old days, when I was at university, it was Sitel, and it was cards, at one point it was cards for Futurshop, and there were times when it was Visa prepaid cards. You’d go into Senegalese homes, I swear, you’d see the big televisions and PlayStations. I used to earn one every fortnight. It’s easy to do the stats. You’re with your friends and you take the calls. You do your job like normal, what you do is get the customer. You earn $ 3 for every customer you bring in. Let’s say, in one day, you get twenty customers. And the customers sometimes don’t ask for much because they know that Bell is efficient. So, you cut $ 15 here, $ 10 there, you give away all the offers and you earn. And at the same time, you talk with your friends, the atmosphere is good, you drink your coffee. The job is not too demanding.”
Access to Permanent Residency
84 Finally, an advantage of working in a call centre for international students is that access to permanent residence is easier for them with this type of job. Paradoxically, they find it easier to apply for permanent residency working in a call centre like Aeroplan than in banks. The reason for this is that employer support, often a prerequisite for a successful transition from temporary to permanent residence, largely relies on the employer’s personal willingness as well as on the policy of the company in question.
85 The Aeroplan call centre has established a very transparent and accessible transition to permanent residency policy for graduating international students. For the company’s Human Resources Director:
“First of all, you have to respect the province’s criteria. So, we require the employee to have worked for the company for at least six months. They have to be full-time and not have had disciplinary sanctions. Before, there was no policy, we just did it on a case-by-case basis. But given the high rate of applications for permanent residency, it was decided to establish a policy. Everyone has read the policy. I went through it. I held meetings and gave small presentations. I told them what is expected of them and what we are going to do to help them, and then the expectations so that they were aware. [...] I encourage them to apply immediately. After six months, I tell them “OK, start the application process.”
87 According to the company’s statistics, transition to permanent residency has become a common practice since 2015. The company claims that it even encourages graduates meeting the conditions required by management and the province to apply for permanent residency, as the Human Resources Director underlines:
“I can say that since 2015, more than fifty students have applied for permanent residency. Currently, I have classes that started in August, September, October, they are sending me emails because they have hit six-months.  I make them do it quickly. When we hire them, I meet them and I speak to them. This is what we do, this is what you have to do. Already in the first week, they know what to expect. I give them information like you have to go and do your language test or you are in technical support, you don’t need a language test, etc.”
Conclusion: Juxtaposed Borders and Francophone Communities
89 New Brunswick’s Acadia is a paradoxical host community for French-speaking immigrants on many levels. It is a Francophone minority community with strong rural characteristics. It has the political will to welcome newcomers for both demographic and economic reasons. However, given its socio-institutional characteristics, the economic integration model it offers immigrants is one of integration mainly in circumstantial and structural employment niches. This is due to the borders that this host community erects in sectors of the Francophone labour market under its control (French-language education and health care sectors) and that ensure its reproduction as a minority community.
90 These borders are starting to have repercussions in terms of social cohesion. This is because immigrants are aware that their reception suffers from a certain degree of contradiction. It is characterised by an open discourse on immigration, the closure of certain key sectors of the French-language labour market and the near necessity of mastering English to ensure economic integration. The contradiction is difficult to overcome; Francophone immigrants were chosen to strengthen the vitality of Acadia by taking part in French-speaking life. Once they arrive, they find that it is very difficult to work in the language for which they were chosen. They also find that it is just as difficult to be part of the French-speaking society because of factors related to identity that prevent them from being fully included in their new host community. A local Francophone community in the form of “Neapolitan ice cream”, as one Western European immigrant called it, is thus beginning to emerge, a Francophone community in layers of comparable but immiscible flavours: 
“In my everyday life, the Acadian Francophone community is not very present. Each day, I have a few interactions in French with service providers, in particular, like at the day care centre, but that’s all. So, I don’t know the vitality and extent of it, because I’m a French teacher in an English school and I have very few interactions in French. It’s like Neapolitan ice cream, this Francophone community. There are layers of different Francophone communities and the ingredients don’t get mixed together.”
New Brunswick’s Acadia covers the entire territory of the province of New Brunswick. However, Acadian populations are concentrated in certain areas, such as the North (Restigouche region), the Northeast (Gloucester region), the Northwest (Madawaska region) and the Southeast (Westmorland and Kent regions).
Canadian Francophone minorities refer to all Francophone communities outside Quebec.
Institutional autonomy refers to the capacity of Francophone minority communities to govern or manage their institutions using the French language. In New Brunswick, the Acadian community is responsible for the governance of its education and health institutions.
In Canada, the notion of host community is an administrative category that refers to Canadian Francophone minority communities (located outside Quebec). These communities have become entitled to receive immigrants, as recognised by the federal government and the provinces. Policies on Francophone immigration have been established to strengthen their capacity to receive and integrate Francophones immigrants (Sall, 2019).
This refers to the activism of Francophone minority communities (FMCs), represented by the Fédération des communautés francophones et acadiennes (FCFA) and bodies such as the Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick (SANB) and the Société nationale de l’Acadie (SNA). For these bodies, Francophone immigration has become a necessity to ensure the survival and vitality of FMCs. This observation is based on alarming demographic statistics on the low birth rate and aging population of FMCs.
FMCs’ demands to host Francophone immigrants are sustained by two laws: the Official Languages Act and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. The first spells out that Citizenship and Immigration Canada and other federal institutions involved in immigration are required by law to take positive measures to ensure that official language minority communities (OLMCs) can, among other things, benefit from immigration. As for the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, it provides explicitly that one of the purposes of the Act is “to support and assist the development of minority official languages communities in Canada”.
A large number of interviews were organised thanks to a grant received from the Canadian Department of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to conduct a study on the economic integration of French-speaking immigrants in the Maritime provinces (New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia). The study led to the publication of a research report entitled Niches d’emplois et barrières d’accès au marché du travail des nouveaux immigrants francophones en Acadie des Maritimes (Sall & Boubacar, 2018).
In the framework of the new Canadian immigration context, students are seen as immigrants with the best potential because they are young and receive local training that is relevant to the labour market (Belkhodja, 2012). As a result, their access to permanent residency is facilitated. In this article, they are considered immigrants since the majority obtain permanent residency. All the students we interviewed had applied for permanent residency or had already obtained it.
The student association of the Moncton campus is the Fédération des étudiantes et étudiants du campus universitaire de Moncton. It reported instances of racial discrimination in nursing studies and the inaction of the university administration by publishing several media releases and a blog post written by Blanchard (2018), one of the student association’s administrators.
Moncton is the largest city in the province of New Brunswick, where the majority of Francophone immigrants decide to settle. Banks in the Moncton area recruit a significant number of immigrants.
This notion is borrowed from anthropologist Olivier de Sardan (1995) who uses it to refer to a space in which the researcher intensively concentrates their interviews and observations, other spaces serving as points of comparison with the control space.
Acadians often refer to Francophone immigrants as “our Immigrants”. However, most of these immigrants have not yet developed a sense of belonging to their host community. Moreover, they are more attracted to the dominant Anglophone community and its resources (jobs, training opportunities, health resources, etc.) than to the Acadian Francophone minority community. As a result, we prefer to use “these” instead of “its” to refer to the relationship between Acadia and Francophone immigrants.
This niche is described as circumstantial because it emerged as the result of a combination of circumstances leading employers to value diversity.
This niche is described as structural because, as a result of chronic labour supply shortages, employers need to recruit immigrants.
For macroeconomic classifications, see the excellent overview by Zlotnik (2003). Referring to neoclassical economists such as Sjaastad (1962), Harris and Todaro (1970), Zlotnik distinguishes between countries of immigration where labour supply is low and capital high and countries of emigration where labour demand is low and labour supply high, leading to low wages. Referring to Marxist writers, she also distinguishes between core countries of capitalism and peripheral countries. The latter are connected to the former by modern transport networks and supply labour to the core countries.
For a spatial classification of countries in our globalised migratory world, the reader is referred to the work of geographer Simon (2008). This author classifies countries according to their geographical location in relation to migration routes, but also according to their size and the percentage of immigrants in relation to the local population. Accordingly, he distinguishes between countries of first asylum, transit countries, mini-states with a high percentage of immigrants, oil-producing countries in the Middle East, and the industrial democracies of Europe and North America.
The concept of institutional completeness is borrowed from Breton (1964), who applies it to immigrant communities in the North American context. Breton describes immigrant communities in which members have only informal networks of relationships, relatives, friendships and casual encounters. He characterises them as communities with institutional incompleteness, since they do not have institutions capable of ensuring the reception and integration of members into the wider host society. However, there are also immigrant communities that have a more formal set of economic, social and political institutions and are able to attract newcomers from their ethnic group and ensure their social and economic integration. More recently, the concept of institutional completeness has been used to describe the degree of vitality of official language minority communities (OLMCs). The more autonomous institutions an OLMC has in various important sectors (education, health, culture, economy, politics, etc.), the more vital it is perceived to be (Belkhodja et al., 2012). In the framework of this research, the concept is applied to immigrant host communities such as New Brunswick’s Acadia.
On this subject, see the article by Desjardins (2017) published on the Radio-Canada website. Bélanger (2017), a Radio-Canada journalist, made a documentary on the situation in Germany, which confirmed the institutional capacity of this European power to deal with the influx of refugees thanks to extremely effective institutional integration practices.
The regionalisation of immigration refers to Canadian policies aimed at encouraging immigrants to settle outside the country’s three major metropolitan areas (Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver). Francophone immigration to Acadia is partly a result of the federal government’s regionalisation policies.
Bill 101 is a Quebec law that makes French the only official language of Quebec. It contains provisions requiring immigrants to enrol their children in French schools. Only children born to English-speaking parents or to at least one English-speaking parent may attend English schools. Bill 101 does not apply to Quebec’s post-secondary institutions (CEGEPS and universities). The legislation was adopted to prevent the anglicisation of Quebec immigrants and to affirm French as a given feature in Canada’s only official French-speaking province.
The issue of retention refers to the difficulty of retaining immigrants in New Brunswick’s Acadia. Approximately 50% of new immigrants leave the province after five years (Leonard et al., 2019).
According to Piore (1979), the primary labour market consists of skilled, socially desirable, often well-paid jobs with social benefits and protections.
According to Piore (1979), the secondary labour market consists of jobs that are poorly paid, dirty, hard, degrading and sometimes temporary or seasonal.
By quality jobs, we refer to socially valued, full-time employment under a long-term or even permanent contract and pay above the minimum wage (in New Brunswick, the minimum wage is set at $ 11.75 per hour).
Radio-Canada, La petite séduction pour attirer de futurs enseignants, 10/12/2018, [online]. URL: https://ici.radio-canada.ca/nouvelle/1140542/recrutement-enseignants-francophones-district-sud-nouveau-brunswick
The district official’s comments were made at a conference held in Moncton on 5 February 2019. I had presented the results of my study on employment opportunities and discrimination against Francophone immigrants in recruitment in Acadia. The official in question was reacting to my comments related to employment discrimination.
Destination Acadie is a tool for promoting Francophone immigration to the Maritimes (the Maritimes include the following Canadian provinces: New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island). Destination Acadie organises activities to promote Francophone immigration in countries such as France, Belgium and Morocco. Various Acadian organisations are part of this initiative (Société de l’Acadie du Nouveau-Brunswick, University of Moncton, etc.).
For the purpose of documenting racial discrimination, we interviewed nine international students from Sub-Saharan Africa and Haiti who obtained at least a B+ grade in my introductory sociology course and whom we considered to be diligent and serious about their studies, in order to avoid confusion between failure due to not meeting academic requirements and failure due to racial discrimination.
Discrimination in the field of health care was also noted in the workplace when a few rare racialised international graduates were employed in hospitals in the Francophone health care network. For more details on these types of discrimination, we refer the reader to the research report we co-authored (Sall and Boubacar, 2018).
In Canada, there are so-called regulated professions that are closed to immigrants holding qualifications acquired outside the country. This applies to the following professions: accountant, medical doctor, nurse, etc. Immigrants who want to practise these professions are required to redo part or most of their training and pass exams in order to be allowed to practise them and join a professional association. A discussion of the exclusion of foreign trained immigrants from the nursing profession is beyond the scope of this article. We refer the reader to Steinbach’s article (2019).
For more information on initiatives implemented by the National Bank of Canada to recruit a diverse workforce, we refer the reader to Helly’s article (2008).
The interviewee asked us to keep his first name.
Here, retention refers to the ability to convince the customer to stay with the service provider and not to cancel their internet or telephone subscription.
The expression “They have hit six months” means that the employees have worked six months in the company and are therefore eligible to apply for permanent residency.
For more details on the fragmentation of New Brunswick’s Francophone community and Canadian Francophone minorities, see the research report by Huot et al (2020).