According to the Nigerian Canadian Association of Newfoundland and Labrador, a province in Canada, about 2,000 Nigerian-Canadians were living there as of last year — and that number continues to grow.
“Every day, every month, new people keep coming in. We are a growing and a large community,” says Chioma Ezera, the association’s vice-president.
Ezera has lived in the province for eight years and says it’s been great to see a growing Nigerian community in the area.
“When I came earlier, we didn’t have as many Nigerians, just a handful. Now I can’t keep up,” Ezera tells CBC Radio’s Crosstalk Fr
“There’s a whole bunch of new faces, a whole bunch of new people. It’s a growing community, but it’s nice to see different people who come from where you come from.”
Ezera says many Nigerians who come to the province are doing so for school, and while some choose to move to a bigger city like Montreal or Vancouver, many choose to stay in the province for work or new opportunities.
“We have a stable kind of environment, it’s enough to keep people here. Back home, it’s not exactly that stable,” she notes.
“Most who stay, stay because they like the family life, the quiet life and that it’s safe.… When you ask what the reason is, they say, ‘It’s good for family, I can raise my kids here.’ That’s what I hear most.”
Ezera adds that the growing Nigerian community has also allowed for the growth of more diverse businesses in St. John’s and the surrounding area, making it easier to access Nigerian items or ingredients for cooking traditional meals.
Winifred Ohwoka owns Signage Clothing and Crafts, working to bring Nigerian and other African fashions to people in the city.
“I’ve made Newfoundland my home, why not bring my culture and bring my fabric here?” Ohwoka tells the Canadian outlet.
Business is good, he says, and that she hopes to open a storefront in St. John’s some time next year.
For Ezera, “It’s nice when you hear Nigerians coming in and having these ideas. Starting up small, and it just grows and it’s a wonderful thing.”