April is Sikh Heritage Month all across Canada, which the City of Timmins has commemorated with a flag-raising at city hall.
Raising the flag for the first time and the opening of a Sikh temple in downtown Timmins earlier this year, advocates regard the city as an increasingly welcoming home for their community.
"Timmins has accepted us," said Kanwaljit Bains, a Brampton resident who helped found Timmins' Sikh temple and volunteers her time there.
The flag was raised in a ceremony including members of the Sikh community, with Mayor George Pirie attending.
"Any newcomers that come into Timmins are a big part of the city's future," said Pirie.
The mayor is hopeful that events like these will encourage further immigration and community building.
"We have been embraced by the Sikhs perhaps especially because they are a very warm and welcoming people," he said.
Sikh immigration to Canada began in 1897, and Northern Ontario has seen a recent influx.
"We have a lot of our young generation here, coming to Northern College. Obviously, now that they are here, they will be settling here," said Bains, pointing to the importance of reinforcing a sense of community and belonging for the local Sikh population.
Flag raising ceremonies are occurring in cities across Canada, with Timmins now joining their number. For Pirie, the opportunity to celebrate the growing diversity the flag raising represents is not just welcome, but crucial.
"Just simply because of demographics within Canada and basically North America, we need newcomers. And all the newcomers within the city of Timmins will always be welcome with open arms," said Pirie.
Bains regards these communities as part of a continuing tradition.
"Sikhs are everywhere. We settle everywhere and we work hard, like everyone else, and we are part of Timmins," she said.
Mark Kay, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, TimminsToday.com