To begin the process, NouLAB invited a diverse set of stakeholders, that were representative of all parts of the immigration system in NB which included newcomers, immigrants, international students, small and medium sized business owners, settlement agencies, academics, and all levels of government employees working on immigration.
The first convening of lab participants was a three day process that set the stage for what the social lab process would entail.
Participants were tasked with understanding the immigration challenges of NB by looking at them through the perspective and experience of newcomers and employers. This was done through exploring the knowledge and experience present in the room, and then interviewing newcomers and employers to map out their journeys. By accessing different experiences of immigration, participants got at a more comprehensive understanding of the system and issues. Participants were better prepared to identify root causes of systemic issues, rather than just the symptoms. Not only did participants have this more informed perspective of the bigger challenge, the experience built empathy for different perspectives and generated buy-in to the lab process.
On the second day, two questions were posed to the participants: What could the future of New Brunswick be? What does the province look like in a future where immigration is not a new and poorly understood process to employers and citizens?
For the first cycle, the theme of water was chosen. As the story of immigration has historically been one of ocean, river and lake travel, this theme connects the present and future with the past. The titles of each workshop were chosen to portray their objectives in the broader context of the cycle.