Newcomer loves socializing, helping fellow immigrants overcome their challenges

·4 min read

Bincy Kurian’s motto in life is to stay patient and confident.

Kurian, 29, works as a welcoming communities co-ordinator at the Timmins and District Multicultural Centre.

“If we’re patient and working for something, we can achieve it,” she says.

Kurian is from Kerala, a state located in southwestern India. Back there, she studied nursing and worked in a neural surgery department. She worked there for 1.5 years before coming to Canada.

“We’re helping someone attain their health. We’re helping them to cure, giving care to them. Once they’re cured of a disease, we feel so great,” she says.

With her passion for helping people, she wanted to get into counselling or a mental health-related field. In 2017, she moved to Timmins for the social service worker program at Northern College.

Her first impression of Timmins was that it was small, calm and peaceful. Kurian’s landlord, who lived in the same house, was a nice Canadian woman who was helpful and made her feel at home.

“It was so nice. I felt like it’s my home. I didn’t feel that much homesick when I was with her,” she recalls. “After one year, I moved out when my husband came.”

Her husband Jerin Edwin now works as a chef at Cedar Meadows Resort. A year after he joined Kiruan in Timmins, they welcomed a son to their family.

Kurian had an arranged marriage. She says she liked him when she first met him. May 18, 2017, they got engaged and four days later, they got married.

Kurian says she will teach her son both languages, English and Malayalam.

“We try to speak both languages. If my parents say something to him, he will understand. And he’s here, he’s a Canadian, so he needs to learn English, too,” she says. “He needs to learn both languages. He needs to know our culture, too.”

In Timmins, the community of people from Kerala comprises about 50 people. They celebrate the traditional Onam festival, Christmas and Easter. With more people coming to study here, Kurian estimates the community will grow.

In August, the community celebrated Onam festival. Following safety protocols, they rented a hall, did traditional dance, laid flower decorations on the floor and made over 20 food items served on a plastic banana leaf. Women wore a white sari, while men wore a white dhoti.

“We didn’t celebrate within a large group back home, we didn’t meet in groups. Here in Canada, we’re celebrating all together, all the community together, it’s so nice,” she says. “We’re meeting new people and the community is getting bigger.”

When Kurian first arrived in Timmins, there weren’t many people from south India.

“Before I came here, I Googled and I inquired. I got one family’s name and we contacted each other. By 2018, 10 people also came in Timmins, so we made a WhatsApp group,” Kurian says. “Whoever else is coming, we’re adding them to the WhatsApp group.”

In Timmins, Kurian, who’s Catholic, attends St. Anthony Padua and Paroisse Notre-Dame De La Paix every week. Kurian says she’s always been religious as it plays a big role in her life. In her youth, she was engaged with church groups and activities.

After her social work diploma, she tried to enrol in a university. Because she wasn’t a permanent resident and tuition was expensive, she decided to be patient and wait. Now, as a permanent resident, she can study at a cheaper rate.

Kurian worked at the Anti-Hunger Coalition as a community engagement internship worker. After six months, she left and started working at the multicultural centre.

Socializing and helping immigrants overcome their challenges is what she likes about her job.

“As I’m an immigrant, I know the challenges and what they’re suffering, so it’s easier to convey a message, find the resources and help them,” she says.

“There will be struggles when you come for the first time but if you have the mind to adjust, we’ll overcome it,” she says. “Everyone has the mindset to be hardworking.”

Kurian says she’s has encountered racism and discrimination in the city and she’s still struggling with it. There are a lot of newcomers coming to Timmins, she says, but so many are moving out, too.

“There are people who are helping but there are some people who aren’t helping. That’s the biggest (challenge),” she says. “It’s hurting me emotionally, my family … We came here, we paid a lot of money, we came here not to make any issues. But they’re saying we came to their country.”

In the future, Kurian wants to pursue social work and if possible, obtain a master’s degree. She also wants to travel.

“Dream for the best, and we’ll get something,” she says.

Dariya Baiguzhiyeva, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com

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