Timmins

Yesterday, I was in Timmins for a presentation in front of agencies and civil servants of the ministries of Community and Social Services (MCSS) and Children and Youth Services (MCYS). I truly enjoy these presentations in front of such audiences, essentially because they allow me to go beyond simply explaining the French Language Service Act (FLSA). They also provide me with an opportunity to detail the history behind the FLSA, the reason why it was passed and to discuss the future of the Francophone community. I never pass up these opportunities that I consider to be one of the privileges of my job.

Following my presentation at the FLS and YOU forum, I had a very full day, meeting with several stakeholder groups. This included discussions with representatives of Employment Ontario, a tour of the Collège Boréal’s facilities in Timmins where I met with a group of nursing science students, followed by a networking opportunity with a dozen or so community leaders, once again organized by the staff at Collège Boréal (whom I would like to publicly thank for their warm welcome). These discussions brought me up to speed on local issues, allowing me, essentially, to take the pulse of the community and its concerns. And let me tell you, there are many stories to be told — some that I am reserving for my annual report!

But I must say that my visit to the Villa RenouvEllement women’s shelter was the most touching of all. The shelter is located in a secure, somewhat secluded area, with a rear courtyard that leads to a well-furnished playground bordered by a beautiful forest. And given that it was built specifically with its mandate in mind and with the help of community members that donated indoor and playground furniture, everything is well thought out. Clearly, La Villa RenouvEllement is a safe haven for theses women — many with children — who had the courage to say “enough is enough.” It is a warmly decorated, intimate place where Francophone women can find support and comfort. The shelter also provides an exceptional work environment for its devoted staff who are attentive to the needs of these women and children facing extremely difficult situations.

Sadly, since it first opened in March of last year, this 10-bed facility is almost always full. My sincerest hope is that this situation will change in the future… for the better.

Today, my adventures continue in North Bay!

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