When Basma El Jarrary moved to Timmins a few years ago, she found people who made her feel comfortable and like she had another family here.
El Jarrary, who’s from Casablanca, Morocco, is a fourth-year student at Université de Hearst pursuing a bachelor’s degree in business administration. She was among dozens of people who attended a community BBQ held Tuesday afternoon at the old St-Charles School.
“They’re doing this event to motivate other people to come to Timmins, to show them Timmins has good opportunities for immigrants. That’s why I came,” she said.
The event was organized by Réseau du Nord in collaboration with various community partners. In Timmins, the BBQ was held in partnership with Centre Culturel La Ronde and Collège Boréal.
About 14 community organizations and partners set up booths to promote their services and programs.
“We hope to help with the integration with our newcomers in our region and help them integrate with the social events,” said Réseau du Nord's socio-economic development agent Marie-Josée Tremblay.
Similar BBQs were held by Réseau du Nord in Hearst and Kapuskasing. The next ones will take place in Kirkland Lake and Temiskaming Shores.
“We really hope to see everybody there. We’ll have different community partners with kiosks to represent their services,” Tremblay said.
Accompanied by the Lapointe family’s live performance, the Timmins event offered free hotdogs, beverages and freezies. There was a Catch the Ace raffle tickets sale and a vaccination clinic. People could also register for La Ronde’s dance classes, membership and the daycare program.
“It's just to get the community together. It’s been a long winter,” said La Ronde’s executive director Lisa Bertrand. “It’s a good partnership. I hope it grows bigger and bigger every year.”
El Jarrary was 17 when she moved to Timmins. Coming from a big city, she was surprised the community here was small but she was happy with what she had.
“People here are really friendly. You feel like it’s your family,” she said. “Your teachers are really close to you. I made a couple of friends. My first job was here. I just started speaking English a year and a half ago.”
El Jarrary, who also speaks French and Arabic, used to work at La Ronde and is now working at Pepco.
“Even if I go back to Morocco, I’d feel something is missing because I have another family here,” she said.
Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com