Victoria Takes Moncton! 

Tuesday 

Today, I embarked on my first research trip. I was headed to Moncton, New Brunswick to conduct interviews with planning practitioners and immigrant settlement organizations as part of my Master’s research. This was my first time visiting New Brunswick as well as my first time flying by myself (both very exciting!).  

Ever since I was little, I have loved airports. Something about the systematic process, the fun of the moving sidewalk, the (seemingly) endless number of places to eat, and the hundreds of people all headed in different directions is so enjoyable to me. I’ve always been particularly fond of watching the arrival gate and witnessing families reunited with loved ones. From big hugs to people crying with joy to little children with big signs that say, ‘welcome home,’ it’s all very heartwarming.  

As I sat in a restaurant, sipping a Brickworks Cider and waiting for my flight, I watched so many people on their own eating dinner. Some were working, some were on the phone with a friend, others were making light conversation with those around them. The airport is a place of connection in more ways than one. For some, they are connecting to a new home. Today, the airport had a different feeling for me, as I embarked on a trip that so many others have made. I was thinking about families who have taken this flight to Moncton, unbeknownst of what their newfound home would be like. A combination of excitement and uncertainty, the minute they step off the tarmac. 

While boarding my flight, I was overcome with excitement for the adventure that awaited me. I landed in Moncton at around 1:00 A.M. (AST) and headed to bed, ready to see what my first day in New Brunswick would have in store. 

Wednesday 

Today, on the agenda, was my most nerve-wracking interview. I was heading over to City Hall to interview a municipal planner on evolving growth policies in Moncton. This interview took me some time to secure and I was so excited that I had the opportunity to do it. I spent the morning getting my materials organized and practicing my interview questions. After some preparation, I decided to do a bit of exploring in the downtown core.  

I quickly learned that the layout of Moncton is quite unique. I had a hard time figuring out where the heart of downtown was actually located. Unlike many similar-sized cities in Ontario, Moncton’s downtown was small, with few stores located in close proximity to one another. I made my way to a local bookstore called ‘Reads Books and Coffee’ where I got my hands on some second-hand Agatha Christie books and a warm cup of tea. I was able to chat with someone in the store about the work I was doing and was directed to pick up a book called ‘The Monctonians’ to help provide some context into how the city had evolved. Very helpful!   

Luckily, my interview that afternoon went well, and I was able to get some more information on the challenges and opportunities that Moncton faces as a city. Given that Moncton was identified as Canada’s fastest growing CMA in 2022, we discussed the various ways that Moncton is working to manage this unexpected growth through improvements to their housing, transit, and social infrastructure. I was able to develop a better understanding of why this population growth may have occurred and how the city is positioned to manage it. Afterwards, I returned to my hotel, poised to take on my next set of interviews and prepare for the busy day I would have on Thursday. 

Thursday 

Today was settlement organization day and I would be conducting interviews with two of Moncton’s four organizations! I woke up early and prepared myself to meet with my first interviewee at a local coffee shop called Epoch Chemistry.  I was particularly excited for these discussions to begin as I would really be getting to hear about how current infrastructure is impacting people on the ground floor.  

The first interview was incredible! We chatted for two hours and I quickly learned that the settlement community was very close-knit. In fact, my second interviewee was actually a close friend of my first interviewee! Our conversation lasted over two hours, and I received a variety of new contacts that might be worth reaching out to for more information. I learned a lot about the challenges that new immigrants face when settling in Moncton and where there is a need for infrastructure improvement. After our conversation, my interviewee mentioned that they were heading for lunch with some people from the local refugee legal clinic and asked if I would like to join. Of course, I said yes! We were able to enjoy some delicious sandwiches at Notre Dame de Parkton and I was able to develop a better understanding of some of the legal challenges that accompany supporting new immigrants in a small city. I was also starting to feel like I understood the city a bit better. 

In the afternoon I met up with the founder of another settlement organization and continued to grow my knowledge of how current policy has been impacting new immigrants. The passion and drive I felt from both of these interviewees was astounding. While I was unable to conduct interviews with immigrant families directly, given time constraints, I was fortunate enough to hear many stories of opportunities and challenges experienced by newcomers to the community. I returned to my hotel, feeling grateful for the opportunity to highlight these experiences through my research.  

Friday + Saturday  

Today was my final day in Moncton before I started my journey home. My main goal for the day: Try Atlantic Cod! I made my way to the Tide and Boar Gastropub where I ordered a Parmesan-Crusted Haddock for lunch. When I say this was probably the best fish I’ve ever tasted, I’m not kidding! I shouldn’t have waited until Friday to get my hands on it!  

The final leg of my journey involved taking the train back to Montreal where I would spend the weekend, before proceeding home. The Ocean Train, run by VIA Rail is an overnight train that runs from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Montreal, Quebec. My journey from Moncton to Montreal took 17 hours, giving me lots of time to reflect on my trip.  

I thoroughly enjoyed getting to experience Moncton first-hand. While I could have conducted these interviews virtually, without having to travel across the country, I knew that doing it in person would be that much more meaningful. I was able to connect with people in a way that would not have been possible online. We shared meals and chatted about what life was like living in this community. When I heard about a certain area of the city in conversation, I was able to go visit it. When interviewees discussed challenges with transit and walkability, I was able to experience this myself. I think that it has helped add a richness and depth to my research that might not have otherwise been present.  

As I continue to write my report and analyze my findings, I hope to keep these experiences in mind. I’ll see you on my next adventure!