Simone Amagnamoua says Timmins is a small community and has everything people need to succeed.
Amagnamoua, 38, who is from Cameroon, recently joined Collège Boréal as a settlement worker. She provides newcomers free orientation and settlement services and offers information on housing, employment, healthcare and education.
In her new role, she wants to help all newcomers make the most of the services offered to them so they can achieve their goals. She also wants to help them integrate into the city because there are "thousands of reasons to feel good here."
“To attain your goal, you need to start in a small town and you can go to a big town after," she says. "Now, I will have experience of work with Collège Boréal. If I were in Toronto, I don’t know if I would have this work.”
Since starting her job in March, Amagnamoua has helped one immigrant so far.
"Many people don't know we have this service," she explains.
Amagnamoua's own experience emigrating to Canada allows her to connect and help newcomers.
“It is a great novelty for Timmins to have settlement services to facilitate the socio-economic integration of newcomers. I am very happy to be able to work with this category of people because I can better understand what they feel as immigrants,” she says.
Amagnamoua came to Timmins directly from Cameroon in August 2019. She is currently studying a psychology program at the Université de Hearst and plans to graduate by next year once she finishes her research work.
“In Africa, many people don’t know the importance of psychology on your life. Not because we don’t need psychology but because we don’t know the importance,” she says, explaining she also wants to get a doctorate in psychology. “I don’t want to stop with a bachelor’s because for me it’s just the first step. I want to do more.”
Amagnamoua says she knows her home country is in great need of qualified manpower and she has a lot of plans for Cameroon.
"It is important to note that the field of psychology deserves to be known and valued in Africa," Amagnamoua says. "But I am also aware that I need to gain work experience in Canada. Living, studying and working in Canada is a necessity for me. But (it's) impossible to completely turn away from my origins."
During her studies, Amagnamoua has worked as a research assistant and was recruited as a student mentor at the university to help new students with their university integration. She also worked at the daycare centres and volunteered in senior homes.
One of the reasons she chose Timmins is because it’s a bilingual city. As Amagnamoua speaks fluent French, she likes being a part of the local francophone community and whenever it’s possible, she participates in francophone events and activities.
“People understand me well when I’m with the francophone community because my English isn’t very good,” she says. “I really want to improve my English.”
In her spare time, she likes getting a good breeze by the lake, swimming, having discussions on interculturality, leading conferences and having barbecues with friends. Since nature is different in Cameroon and there aren’t many lakes, Amagnamoua also likes the abundance of lakes in close proximity to Timmins.
What Amagnamoua likes most about living in the city is the diversity of the seasons. In Cameroon, there is only one season: summer, Amagnamoua says. After coming to Timmins, she had to get used to the cold weather but now she enjoys walking in the forest during winter and wants to try all winter sports.
“I like to admire the landscape in its different seasons. It's easy in Timmins to have someone open to show you around or introduce you to something new and I love that,” she says.