Issues related to urban-rural migration have been studied in Quebec for fifteen years, most notably by the Groupe de recherche sur la migration ville-campagne et les néo-ruraux (“Research Group on Urban-Rural Migration and Neo-Rurals”) founded by Myriam Simard. This group has focused on the heterogeneity of neo-rurals and their reasons for migration, the difficulties associated with settling in rural areas, the multiple consequences of their presence, the relationships between neo-rurals and long-established populations and decision-makers, new forms of rural governance and so on. This research, which was conducted in so-called “core” central regions of Quebec (mainly the Estrie and Centre-du-Québec regions), demonstrated that there was no single model for this phenomenon and that interpretations needed to be adjusted according to specific local and regional circumstances.

It was in the wake of this research that the idea emerged to set up the Groupe de recherche sur les migrations, les mobilités et la cohabitation dans le Nord with a view to studying the phenomenon and its ramifications in northern regions — too often neglected in literature on Quebec. It emerged against a backdrop of high labour mobility and employee turnover in several sectors of the economy, and of underlying coexistence issues.