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P.E.I. government launches campaign to bring Islanders home

Julia Campbell has made the most of her return to P.E.I. after a dozen years away. She has helped expand the family business while also starting her own family.
Julia Campbell has made the most of her return to P.E.I. after a dozen years away. She has helped expand the family business while also starting her own family. - Jim Day

Julia Campbell found her way home – and she couldn’t be happier to be back living on Prince Edward Island.

“For me, there’s no better place,’’ says Campbell.

However, it took a dozen years before the native Islander was drawn back to her home province.

After graduating from Mount Allison University in New Brunswick in 2004 in classical piano performance, Campbell left the red shores of P.E.I. eager to see the world.

“It was never a premeditated thing,’’ she notes.

She took in more than 40 countries across six continents with employment ranging from teaching English and music in Korea to working on private motor yachts.

Many of the places and experiences were memorable, but Campbell always considered P.E.I. home.

“During my travels, there was never one place or one experience that I thought, ‘this is more than what I am going to get from home’,’’ she says.

“So, in the back of my mind, I would say I always had a plan to come back home.’’

Six years ago, she did.

She hopes sharing her story will see many other Islanders follow suit.

Campbell spoke Wednesday at the launch of a campaign called “Maybe You Should Come Home’’ which encourages Islanders living away to share on social media why they wish to move back to P.E.I. and those living on the Island to tell stories about why they think friends and family should move home.

Posts with the hashtag #URPEI will be entered in the month-long contest to win a one-way flight to the Island from anywhere in the world, which can be used by someone living away or given to a friend or family member living away.

Premier Wade MacLauchlan says the climate is ripe to be encouraging people to return home to P.E.I.

“We’ve got a lot of people around here creating new opportunities for themselves and for others as entrepreneurs,’’ he says.

“We have a diverse economy with opportunities across the board in all sectors. And we’ve got a place that is moving ahead, that we love, and we know can do even better as more of the people who really care about Prince Edward Island come home and make the most…of our future and our province’s future.’’

He does not consider the contest a gimmick.

He believes the initiative will produce some material results in terms of enticing people home.

“It’s storytelling, and that is how we’ve built P.E.I. culture over the generations and that is how we will connect with the people who have something to contribute,’’ he says.

“If there is one thing that concerns me it is that we need to fully grab hold of this moment and have the right people here to make the most of it.’’

Campbell has certainly made the most of her return.

She joined her family’s business and is currently co-owner of the North Shore Group, which is comprised of JEMS Boutique, Go 2 Clothing Line, the Anne of Green Gables Stores and Kindred Spirits Wholesales.

Not only has she helped expand the family business, she met a fellow Islander and has started her own family.

She has two pieces of advice for other Islanders returning home.

First, allow time to adjust to being home. It took Campbell more than a year to start feeling settled.

“For me, it was definitely I needed time to adjust,’’ she says.

“I’d been away for over a decade. A lot had happened here. A lot had happened in my life.’’

Her second suggestion for Islanders coming back from away is to not only think about what P.E.I. has to offer them, but what they can offer in return.

“In my opinion there has never been a better time to move home,’’ says Campbell.

“People from all over the world are coming here to try and make a better life for themselves, and while no system in perfect, I don’t think there is a better place for opportunity and growth then Prince Edward Island.’’

Twitter.com/PEIGuardian

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