Well this month marks our third anniversary living in PEI. I moved with Nicky and Nora in the back of the car snoozing all the way from Ottawa an 1100 Km, fourteen hour drive. Arriving on May 1 from the mainland. The truck with our four and a half ton of belonging would follow a few days later. Will came to PEI in late September, he had to finish a work contract.
It has been a busy 3 years, full of events and happenings. Living in the Maritimes and on a small island with a population equal to old neighbourhood in Ottawa, has its challenges. We always lived in cities of a million plus people, great capitals of the world. Charlottetown at 36,000 often feels like Mayberry, everyone knows everybody, 88% of the population is white and christian. There is no real diversity, just the beginning of some multiculturalism which is seen by Islanders as quaint. But since 2000 Charlottetown has changed quite a bit and more change is on the way, a large Asian population is visible. Indian families from the Sub-continent form a large contingent. Other towns and villages remain largely homogenous with the exception of Stratford and Cornwall, the satellites towns around Charlottetown. A cosmopolitan area near Montague, pop 2000 with two large Buddhist Monasteries and their distinctive architecture at Brudenell with 1400 monks has attracted a lot of attention, not always positive, despite the charitable work and influx of cash brought by the Monastery. The challenge is for the Provincial Government to find a way to have these new comers stay in PEI and not leave after 3 to 4 years for cities like Toronto or Montreal, which offer easier integration into society if you are not white and better schools, better health care, better work opportunities, a large international airport. More and more Canadians from the other provinces come to PEI to live and work but they too, like us often face a wall of resistance. Older Islanders the +50 crowd are very afraid of change and our Ex-Premier who was defeated in the last general election on 23 April was very good at playing the xenophobic card to get votes from older people. During the campaign he did not miss an opportunity to remind people of his family ties to the Island compared to his opponents. However the demographics have changed quite a bit and the millennials who voted in the last election point to more progressive and enlighten views and this is a very good thing for PEI. This is why the Green Party has made such a breakthrough, a first in Canada.
So what have we done in the last 3 years in PEI. Well we have volunteered in many areas, got to know a lot of people, been socially active, I ran for Municipal Office. Got involved in the last general election and again met a lot of people. Joined a Club am now am sitting on the board. Raised funds for the PEI Symphony, etc.. Learned about the Island and the people and its place in the Maritimes.
So our lives have become involved in the fabric of Island society. Socially speaking we have been super busy much more so than when we lived in Ottawa. It is easier here to meet people and often spontaneous kitchen parties take place, you just show up.
Has it been a good move? On the sum of it I would say yes. It took some adjustment and getting to know the Island way. Yes some times we thought what are we doing here, but then we think back and realize that we have a good life.