“If you want to study a foreign language, go stand at the bus stop.”
Popular saying in the early days.
Between 1954 and 1956, Alcan’s work force was mainly recent immigrants to Canada. At that time, high employment existed in the country for English and French-speaking Canadians, and young immigrants were available, becoming the first stable labour force.
Alcan hired across the prairies and in major centres using radio, television, and the press from road building crews, farm crews, railway crews, and logging crews – labouring men who could endure the rigours of smelter work. They applied after hearing about the new town being built – a place you could bring your family and have a permanent job. Special assets of the area for the family, such as outdoor activities, were promoted. Alcan expressed pride in employing workers from many ethnic backgrounds.
Kitimat had a strong community spirit from early on. People were from many countries, all in the same situation – adapting to a new language, and a new way of life in the brand new town of Kitimat. Cultural groups formed - Italian, Portuguese, Greek - and grew in membership. The multicultural nature of Kitimat increased with the arrival of Sikh, Chinese, Filipino, and Finnish residents. Kitimat’s multi-ethnic community continues to this day.