In the age of hunter-gatherers, migration was a way of life due to weather and prey animals patterns. They simply followed the best opportunities their dynamic environment offered them.

The most common cause of migration for agricultural societies has been degradation of the soil. As climate changes and as the fertility of agricultural lands declines, famine and conflict spur migration. Of course, people migrate to richer lands – either virgin forests and soils or, at least, regions with higher per capita resources.

Modern Migration

In the modern era, causes for migration may seem more complex but the fundamental reasons remain the same. If the countries today, which are the source of migrants, were able to offer 100 hectares of farmland and 50 hectares of old-growth forest to every family, it is safe to say that the impetus to migrate would cease to exist.

But the people migrating always come from regions where:

  • The farmland available has been shrinking on a per-capita basis due to population growth and soil degradation
  • With every generation, the size of the farm plots become smaller and smaller as the land is divided up between more and more family members
  • Farmers lose their land and move to already overcrowded cities
  • Social stability declines
  • Unrest increases
  • The youth lose hope
  • Civil strife increases

Migration involves huge costs for the migrants involving loss of social status and much reduced social capital. Most people migrate as a last resort.

The increase of migration from the Middle East and North Africa is driven by all of the above factors and would also include climate change, increasing aridity, and crop failures in the region.

We need to address the causes of migration in the regions in which they occur. Only by becoming a sustainable society itself can Canada help other countries to achieve stability and peace.