TIMMINS – Whether they’ve lived in Timmins for three days, three years or three decades, attendees of the annual Welcome To Timmins Night had the chance to explore all that the city has to offer on Wednesday.
The event, which took place at the McIntyre Curling Club on Wednesday evening, brought 120 community vendors together in an effort to connect hundreds of residents with essential programs, services and recreational activities in Timmins.
“It’s an amazing feeling to see this kind of turnout and to know that I’m part of such an amazing community that can really come together to offer residents this kind of event,” said Marissa Côté, event organizer and settlement worker for the Timmins & District Multicultural Centre. “Whether you’ve been here your whole life and it’s just a refresher, or a way to see what’s new, or you’re a newcomer being provided with resources in the new community that you now call home, this event really does demonstrate that Timmins is inclusive and accepting of everyone.”
Archie MacPherson and Aleace Cunningham, who moved to Timmins from Australia a mere three days before the event, agreed that people in the city have been very hospitable.
“Everyone so far has been really welcoming and polite and I guess it’s a Canadian stereotype that you’re all very nice but it has really been ringing true so that’s been good,” said MacPherson, who is here working on an exchange program at the Kidd Mine. “It’s been amazing; people in the streets pick up on the accent and have asked us if we’re new in town and have stopped to chat.”
Cunningham, who is studying correspondence and will possibly be pursuing work here in the city, said she was excited to learn that Timmins has a dog park and a ringette team, a sport they don’t play in Australia.
MacPherson added that snowmobiling and ultimate Frisbee were new activities to him, as well.
“It’s just helpful finding out where things are and what people do because we’re just trying to find out what happens here and everyone says that winter is a big thing here and you can’t go outside so we’re trying to do all the stuff around town before that,” he said.
Helping newcomers in the city forge new relationships and develop a sense of community is a key component to the event, which has been taking place in Timmins for more than 20 years.
Tom Baby, Timmins Local Immigration Partnership coordinator, noted, “Timmins was really founded on newcomers if you really want to go back to foundations of the mining community and European immigrants and we’ve continued that tradition today by having newcomers coming to Timmins from all over the world. This event and the newcomer reception we have will get the ball rolling so they can start to feel like a part of the community because a big part of keeping folks here and retaining newcomers is retaining those relationships.”
Anyone who was new to the city had the chance to rub elbows with Mayor Steve Black as well as other local politicians, councillors and community members at the event’s newcomer reception.
Mayor Black, who was a newcomer to Timmins himself back in 2004, gave a quick speech at the reception and said that anyone is always welcome to knock on his door if they want to be shown the sights and sounds of the city.
“We’re friendly people, it’s our greatest asset,” he said. “And if you want to know what there is to do in Timmins, I always say just follow me around for a few weeks and you’ll see that there’s plenty to do to keep you busy.”
The numerous clubs, associations and leisure activities with booths set up around the event further cemented the fact that Timmins has a lot to offer in the way of entertainment. Representatives from the McIntyre Curling Club, Wintergreen Conservation Fund, KidSport, Coin Collecting Club, Timmins Ringette Association and Timmins Snowmobile Club were among the exhibitors sharing their activities with the public on Wednesday.
The Goldminers’ Daughters, Timmin’s local #roller derby team, were also in attendance.
Jennifer Yule, a roller derby player who goes by the name “Firewalker” when she laces up her skates and plays the game, said joining the team was a great way for her to integrate into Timmins when she moved here two years ago.
“We’re a very inclusive organization. We accept people of all ages, genders, skill levels, and we have a very strong community because we’re all super good friends outside of the sport,” Yule said. “It’s great to get involved and feel like a part of something.”
Jody “Pablow Pickasoul” Vaillancourt shared Yule’s sentiment and found that joining the team helped to cement her place in the community.
“It’s a really awesome sport and it’s a lot of teamwork, camaraderie and it’s full energy,” she said. “I’ve made great friends who are really like a second family to me, people who will be in my life forever.”
Members of the Timmins Pride Committee, who were also present on Wednesday, agreed the city is a very welcoming and accepting place — a quality that is all the more important for someone in the LGBT community.
“I don’t think a lot of people would think a small town would have a Pride committee or organized activities so we’re happy to put the word out there for anyone who is supportive and wants to join,” said Kevin Chiasson, a Pride Committee executive member. “We want people to see that Timmins is a very welcoming place and you can feel free to be who you are, especially youth who may be struggling with that.”
Representatives from community organizations offering employment, education and health care services that are crucial for someone who has just moved to the city were also at the event.
Employment Options for Collège Boréal had a booth set up to share their range of free services with people who may be looking for work, are interested in retraining and entering a different field, or who are considering going back to school.
All of the local secondary and post-secondary schools were present as well, offering information about their programming and educational options.
If finding a new family doctor was on the newcomer’s list, Hillary Deyne, a registered dietitian with the Timmins Family Health Team, was on hand to provide guidance on how to do so.
Deyne said the best way to find a local practitioner who is licenced and trusted is to register for Health Care Connect. Individuals on this list are then contacted by local doctors when they are seeking new patients.
“A healthy person makes a healthy community, so we’re really interested in making sure people in Timmins have access to health care,” she said. “It’s also important to always to welcome people in Timmins because we’re a great community and great people so we’re glad to be out here saying hi to everybody.”
The event drew hundreds of attendees from around the city, both newcomers and long-standing citizens, who learned about all of the services offered in the city. There were also numerous draws for prizes, free snacks and handouts, the chance to pet Science Timmins’ new animatronic dinosaur and many opportunities to mix and mingle with the people of Timmins.