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Timmins makes immigrants feel more at home with a 'Welcoming Week'

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TIMMINS -

Sept. 10-19 is the time period set aside for Welcoming Week, an annual international opportunity to promote a message of inclusion. For the first time, Timmins is participating.

“It’s a very simple thing to say 'hello. How are you?' And say it with a smile on your face and mean it," said Timmins Mayor George Pirie. "These are wonderful folks. Take a moment to say 'hello' and I’m sure you’ll be impressed."

When Jean-Jacques Fouda from Cameroon, Africa, and enrolled at Universite de Hearst three years ago, he said he felt weird when local people stared at him.

“For now, people change," Fouda said. "We have more of Black people and Indian people. The people here in Timmins, they try to learn more about the people and that for now is going to be normal so that’s very good."

In the coming days, various organizations and businesses will be hosting welcome events. For example, one of them will be how to go about starting a business.

Madison Mizzau, who works at the Timmins Economic Development Corporation (TEDC) as a community development consultant, said newcomers tend to be entrepreneurial.

"That’s been shown in the data and the literature, so by offering workshops and sessions for newcomers -- tips and tricks on what they need to consider to start a new business -- it provides them with that knowledge,” Mizzau said.

“With more immigrants here, we can address employment issues and also there are immigrants opening businesses here -- they're creating employment, as well," added Shashanka Rangi, the Timmins local immigration partnership coordinator for the Timmins and District Multicultural Centre.

Officials with the TEDC said federal figures show that in 2018 and 2019, more than 1,300 study permits were issued to international students in Timmins.

Last week, Northern College officials reported to CTV News that 250 international students will be arriving in Timmins before the end of September.

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