Rural and Northern Youth Migration in Manitoba

Funded through Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth; Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs; and the Rural Secretariat

The desire to understand and account for population and demographic changes in rural/northern communities has motivated a Manitoba focused youth migration study undertaken by provincial and federal government representatives, researchers, students, and community representatives. With this project, Rural Team Manitoba’s Youth Standing Committee research team intends to develop increased clarity around the nature of and reasons for rural/northern youth migration. A key goal of this research is to speak with Manitoban rural/northern youth from a selection of regions to develop a nuanced and multi-perspective understanding of their experiences in rural/northern communities, their intentions to leave or stay, and the motivations for leaving, staying, or returning to these smaller communities. A case study approach will be adopted to focus on three regions of Manitoba: Francophone communities, Northern communities, and Parkland communities.

The research project has three key objectives:

  1. Investigate the extent of youth migration from rural/northern communities
  2. Explore reasons for migration
  3. Provide data to assist communities, regions, government departments and others to identify opportunities to keep youth in Manitoba and to attract youth back to rural/northern communities.

To ensure a collaborative approach to the research, a project steering committee has been established to assist in research design and implementation. The project is considered a two phase research project with a literature review and secondary data analysis completed in the first phase, and interviews and data analysis completed in the second phase. Examining existing literature and using secondary data from multiple sources will develop an understanding of the scope of youth migration as well as inform the development of population pyramids for the three regions. Being a multi-method project using a case-study approach, and to gain further insight into instances of rural/northern youth migration, qualitative information will be gathered using focus groups, semi-structured interviews, participant observation, and content analysis.

At least one focus group discussion will occur in each of the three regions selected with rural/northern youth (youth being defined as those between the ages of 18 and 34 years). Semi-structured interviews will also be conducted in each region with youth and community representatives. Community based organizations, such as employment centres, community development corporations, schools, and municipal offices will assist in generating youth participation for both the focus groups and interviews.

This project will be coordinated by the Rural Development Institute (RDI) at Brandon University; a partnership has been established with le Conseil de développement économique des municipalités bilingues du Manitoba (CDEM) to facilitate research in the three regions. This research project is supported by Manitoba Education, Citizenship and Youth; Manitoba Aboriginal and Northern Affairs; and the Rural Secretariat.

Project Publications

For more information contact:
Rural Development Institute
Brandon University
Ph: 204-571-8515 or