A Multicultural Hub Looking to Diversify its Opportunities
Located in south central Saskatchewan is Gravelbourg, a small multicultural town, home to nearly eight percent of the province’s Francophones. Dubbed the ‘Cultural Gem of Saskatchewan’, the town truly brings a European feel to the area. Gravelbourg is also well known for its annual Summer Solstice Festival d’été, a diverse festival mix of musical, literary and performing arts. Major industries in the area include agriculture, tourism, trades and health.
Land Area, km2
Saskatoon, Prince Albert
But like many rural communities in the area, Gravelbourg is facing an uphill battle. Many sectors are experiencing skills shortages – particularly technical jobs and the trades. As their population continues to age, this gap continues to widen. One area that could be developed is their tourism sector, as Gravelbourg is known for its heritage buildings, artists and diversity of cultures. Due to the program in the French, English and Immersion schools, bilingualism is more and more present among youths which is also an attractive feature for tourism promoters as well as parents wanting to provide an added advantage for their children’s future.
Healthcare is an area that could also be developed – currently Gravelbourg has a small community hospital, but there have been talks of converting the old convent into a specialized mental healthcare facility and possibly turning the town into a regional health center.
Approximately 60% of the population of Gravelbourg is Francophone. Although primary and secondary education is well provided for both the Francophones and the Anglophones of the community, some training opportunities in the area are still lacking.
Most post-secondary institutions with the required specializations are located in the big cities, so many of the town’s youth are migrating to larger cities to pursue education and training opportunities in other areas. As well high paying jobs in the oil fields either in Alberta or Saskatchewan make it more attractive for young adults to pursue their future outside their home town.
Given the lack of new immigrants in the region, there are initiatives underway to both support and make it easier for Francophone immigrants to settle and work in Gravelbourg and to help retain youth in the area.
There is also talk of developing the area as a retirement destination as well as amalgamating smaller neighboring communities with Gravelbourg. Oil exploration is also part of Gravelbourg’s future development possibilities. So despite some of the challenges this town is facing, with these initiatives underway, Gravelbourg is well positioned to be on the path to future growth.
Read about the Francophone history of Saskatchewan here.