Flying up North on Tuesday I had a sense of going home –the landscape was familiar to me as we came into the Timmins airport, even though I had never been to the city before. I had an amazing week job-shadowing Mr. Bisson and getting to know his constituency staff, as well as meeting people of the Timmins- James Bay riding.
I first visited Smooth Rock Falls, a community of 2500 and learned about the challenges facing their community’s health services as well as solutions that are being developed. We were then off to Kapuskasing, a francophone community also on Highway 11. After a few meetings that were entirely in French I soon began to understand a lot more than I expected. We even went to the opening of the new campus for the Universite de Hearst- a francophone university with locations in Timmins, Hearst and Kapuskasing.
Two of my favourite outings of the week were seeing Mr.Bisson interacting with highschool students. He has always had a gift for talking (according to his long-time neighbours that were my hosts during my stay in Timmins) and he was certainly in his element at the front of a class. The students were very excited and asked dozens of questions –about the Ring of Fire, elections and his life.
There were many meetings with constituents and interest groups, as well as events we fit into the five days I was in Timmins. One event that we attended was a candlelight ceremony at the Porcupine Miners’ Memorial in honour of the Chilean miners.
I am looking forward to going back up North at the next chance I get and to continue working on and learning about issues affecting francophone communities, mining, healthcare and First Nations.