Our Scotland 2042 series imagines Scotland twenty years in the future. For the details to take part go here.
Onboard the sky blue C-5M Galaxy transport plane on its daily flight, scheduled to arrive at GLA, Glesga Airport, at 10 in the morning, were Eileen Erskine, 97, her son Jack, 65, her grandson Nathan, 40, and his wife Ivy, also 40, and their daughter, Freya, 8. They were five of yet another 200 Canadian refugees being ferried in that day, this time the weekly flight from Vancouver, part of the four million that Scotland had agreed to repatriate. Each of them had their allotted 100 kg of baggage.
During the first two years of the flights only young, fully trained construction professionals arrived. They were the fore-troop, building out the housing and infrastructure for those to come later. Eileen had been born in Glasgow towards the end of the Second World War. Her parents had immigrated with her to Vancouver, where she had grown up. As housing prices escalated, she had been forced into the interior of British Columbia. Today, housing anywhere in Canada was worth nothing. The various First Nations owned everything, the result of a Canadian Supreme Court ruling.
Refugee flights also arrived from Toronto and Halifax. Most of the passengers had been living in refugee camps in Canada since the beginning of 2040. The Erskines were allowed in now because Eileen had been born in Scotland.
When Britain gave reciprocal British citizenship to Australians, Canadians, and New Zealanders, the First Nations of Canada, renamed the Canadian Nation, saw their opportunity to depopulate their sovereign country.
Deciding where all of the refugees should go was complex. People could apply for a particular country and location, but it was an algorithm that decided. Many of the refugees destined for Scotland, had one ancestor from there, often a result of highland clearances. Most were ethnically mixed, commonly with English, Irish, or even Welsh, but often involving more exotic combinations. Many Scots-Irish were assigned to Scotland, despite arriving in Canada from Ulster. Everyone had to be moved by 2050. At its current rate, only sixty thousand people made it to Scotland, in a year. That rate would have to ramp up to six hundred thousand a year, ten flights a day, to meet the timeline.
With all of these new immigrants, Scotland finally took action against the lairds. No corporation, family, or individual could own more than one hectare; houses could not exceed 500 square meters. Excess lands and buildings had to be sold to local authorities, who could then either sell them onwards or rent them out.
Similar flights were being made to the other British republics: Cornwall, England, Mann, Northumbia and Wales. European Canadians from France, Germany and most of the other countries still in the United States of Europe (USE), were not being treated this way. USE was skilled at getting its own way, but to its disadvantage. They, too, needed new immigrants because of the fertility crisis.
In Scotland, developing a green economy and repopulating the Highlands and Islands were priorities. Silicon Glen would extend into Silicon Highlands and assorted island offshoots. People with proven connections to the Lowlands, such as Eileen and her family, moved there. Greenness involved building wooden houses out of plantation woods such as Douglas-fir and Sitka Spruce, then rewilding Scotland with native species. It also involved growing several iterations of crops a year using hydroponics, and fish using aquaponics.
Bureaucrats loved the opportunity to create exceptions. Refugees thought to have connections to the Hudson Bay Company, were sent to the Orkneys, which was prime recruitment territory for the fur trading company. Of course, not all of these descendants were required to leave Canada. Those with First Nations heritage were allowed to stay in Canada, something a DNA test could prove.
Fur traders were not the worst of immigrants to Canada, if only because of their dependency on native trappers. Gold miners were often only interested in get-rich-quick schemes. When these failed, as they most often did, the former miners took to homesteading, taking the lands already occupied by the First Nations people, and often giving them European diseases that killed them off.
The Canadian Nation dealt more harshly with Scottish descendants, in part because the first prime minister of Canada, born John Alexander McDonald in Glasgow, infuriated past and present indigenous people, because federal policies he enacted, encourage their genocide, from gold miners, settlers and the residential school system.
With the Canadian Nation owning all of the lands in Canada now, it was payback time, and the descendants of British settlers suffered the most. Except it wasn’t suffering at all. Scotland needed young workers!
Immigration reinforced English. Scots and Canadians spoke the same language, although with different dialects and vocabularies. At the Canadian refugee camps they were educated in green skills that could be put to immediate use on their arrival in Scotland. They also received a social education that gave them an understanding of Scottish history, but also a history of the European exploitation of Canada, and how this negatively impacted the First Nations peoples.
One of the many concerns was how long it would take the new citizens to drive comfortably on the left side of the road. Native-born Scots wondered how many lives would be lost before the new immigrants consciously looked left. Some worried that an upcoming plebiscite would change the country to driving on the right. The new citizens were restricted to autonomous vehicles. An agreement with Stellantis, and a reconstructed Linwood auto factory resulted in a new, electric and autonomous MPV, the Hillman Husky: a brand name that united the past with the future, a model name that appealed to most Canadian refugees, and a product that looked after most transportation needs.
Eileen soon arrived at her new home, an assisted living centre, in Laurieston. The tenements she had grown up with had disappeared, as had the towers that replaced them. “Absolute luxury,” she declared, as she ate her dinner of haggis, neeps and tatties, “Its good to come home, finally.”
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