By Len Gillis / email@example.com
Updated 17 hours ago
There is a new welcome mat out in Timmins for immigrants who are seeking jobs and a new life in Canada.
The new Timmins and District Multicultural Centre was officially opened this week with an office and a resource person, Andrée Fortin, located in the Timmins Economic Development Corporation building at 12 Elm Street North.
The purpose of the office is to recognize the growing numbers of immigrants to Northern Ontario, to attract more of them to Timmins and to do whatever it takes to help new people and their families adjust to life here.
Christy Marinig, the CEO of the TEDC, welcomed guests to the office Tuesday saying the new centre comes about after roughly five years of effort on the immigration file.
"This is a very important day for the Timmins Economic Development Corporation and the city of Timmins," she said.
"It has been about five years that Cathy Ellis and Brenda Camirand really took the immigration initiative and started to develop it because we recognized there was a need for employers to bring new skill-sets into the community and that required newcomers," said Marinig.
"And there's also a lot of people interested in Northern Ontario, moving to Northern Ontario. Certainly not the numbers we're seeing in Toronto, but we are seeing people moving here and they do need the support services to be able to stay here, find employment and raise their families and enjoy everything that Northern Ontario and Timmins has to offer," said Marinig.
She added that she is pleased the new centre in Timmins has developed a partnership with the North Bay and District Multicultural Centre which has already been in operation for several years.
"Their leadership and expertise came in very handy and we saw it as a win-win situation to partner with them, because we believe it is important to work together," she added.
The North Bay office is headed up by executive director Don Currie who explained that his office will help the Timmins office through its growth period of providing immigrant settlement services.
"We opened in January 2008. So we've got about three and a half year's experience that Timmins doesn't have in this," said Currie, adding that immigration is now a pan-Northern effort.
"Actually all the five major cities in Northern Ontario are working together on attracting immigrants and Timmins has actually taken the lead on the marketing front. There is now actually a marketing campaign going on for immigrants to come to Northern Ontario," said Currie.
Currie explained that new immigrants will require help on a variety of concerns that many of us take for granted and that's why it's important to have a local office.
"It can be help finding a school for your kids. They won't know there are four different school boards in Timmins. They may need English or French language training. They may need help understanding the banking system, or how to get a Health Card, all the obvious things that we take for granted. So if you come to a new country, you don't know that," said Currie.
"Another big part of it is matching them with somebody who have lived here for awhile. So somebody with similar interests, similar age hopefully, can show them the best places to shop, where to find a provincial park and that kind of stuff," he said.
Currie said there will soon be a public effort to attract volunteers. There are already a few who have come forward in Timmins. He said North Bay has nearly 40 such volunteers.
Timmins mayor Tom Laughren said he was pleased to see the new centre opening.
"This is a very, very important endeavour for our community," said Laughren adding that many employers in Timmins face challenges of finding skilled workers, especially at a time when so many in the "baby boomer" generation are retiring.
Laughren added that Timmins has a history of acceptance of immigrants going back 100 years when the community was founded and then again in the post WW2 years.