Maybe we do have something to offer

This past weekend I took some time to do a little shopping in Moncton. As I was walking through the mall, looking at the lines outside of stores, the arrows on the floor, and the masks on almost every face, it struck me how much COVID-19 really has reshaped our lives. A year ago had I see a line outside of a store I would have assumed there was a blowout sale, and had I seen people wearing masks and plastic face shields I may thought them to be ill or paranoid. But now, it’s normal…”the new normal” I guess it’s called. As a realtor, this “new normal” has meant a lot of changes in the real estate industry, and one change that has fascinated me the most is the influx of folks “from away” who are selling their homes in other provinces and moving to New Brunswick…and I asked myself, why?

Not that New Brunswick doesn’t have a lot to offer, in fact, I’m in love with my province. I’ve lived in BC, Alberta, and Nova Scotia, and no matter what they had to offer, my heart and home has always been here. At the same time, however, I know that we–in the past–have been seen as the “have not province”. So, is it simply the fact that our fantastic health care leaders and provincial leaders have done so well during the crisis to keep infection numbers down that has led to people wanting to live here? Or maybe it is the boom in the real estate market? Maybe it is fear driven and people aren’t really coming here so much as they are leaving “there”? Amid the many questions that I’ve pondered to find an explanation for this inflow of new people in the province, I’ve found an answer that I think helps to explain the motivation for the move.

New Brunswickers (and all Maritimers for that matter) have, for quite some time, been seen as behind the times. We have been the “have not province”, the poor province, the place where young people join hands in a mass exodus of the province because we didn’t have anything to offer. Now, most of us here know that’s simply not true, but I’m talking about how we have been perceived. But then COVID-19 happened, and life changed…the new normal. Non-essential services began shutting down, businesses closed their doors for a time or reduced their hours, companies reduced staffing, people began working from home, fear grew in some and conspiracy theories in others. A strange uneasiness settled into the hearts of many Canadians as we watched the numbers grow, and the boarders close and we knew it would never be the same. COVID-19 has brought with it many changes and most of them are unwelcome, but sometimes in the middle of a crisis, in our response to that crisis, we see something beautiful begin emerge.

Our country’s response to this crisis has slowed the pace of our busy lives. With the shut downs and with people now working from home, families have been forced to spend more time together and escape from the rat race a bit, and in that shift I believe Canadians have started to reshape their value system in light of these changes. Now New Brunswick, with its laid back pace and strong emphasis on values like family, and friends, doesn’t seem so backwards, and what we have becomes more valuable than what we have not.

As Canadians have started to re-evaluate the pace of their lives and the importance of family, New Brunswick and its “behind the times and backward ways” suddenly seem to make a bit more sense! But, we’ve known that for decades right people? New Brunswickers may have struggled economically in the past (and many continue to do so), but what we’ve lacked in wealth we’ve made up for in rich lives and relationships. Family, friends, fun, and a slower pace have been values of New Brunswickers (and maritimers in general) for as long as I can remember and amid the crisis of COVID-19 it has finally started to make sense to the rest of the country. I don’t think people are moving here only as an escape, but I think the beauty we have always seen in our province is finally showing itself to the rest of the world. In a crisis, our values helped us pull together and reduce the impact of the disease, and those values have become much more significant in the hearts of Canadians.

So, Why New Brunswick? Simply put, because the world is waking up to the beauty that has always been at the heart of our lives and values. They are finally beginning to see New Brunswick for who we really are–a people dedicated to our families and to each other, who know that we need money but we aren’t a slave to it, and that sometimes we have to slow down to take in all the beauty the world and those in it have to offer.

Jonathan DesRoches