To preserve your culture, you need a community: newcomer

It takes more than one person to pass down the culture to the next generation, says Shashanka Rangi.

Born and raised in India, Rangi, 33, works as the Timmins Local Immigration Partnership co-ordinator.

Culture is something you pass on to the next generation, she says.

“It’s not a single person’s job. Only when you can do it with a community of people, it makes more sense,” she says. “If you want to preserve your culture, pass on your traditions to the next generation, you need a community for that.”

Rangi received a bachelor’s degree in pharmacy from India. She wanted to get into biological sciences research and a masters’ degree in drug discovery felt like a natural progression, so she applied to study at the University of Edinburgh, UK.

She moved to Timmins with her four-year-old son and husband, who works as a senior mining engineer for Kirkland Lake Gold.

Initially, it was hard as the family moved during the pandemic and felt very isolated. Once Rangi started working and making friends in the community, it helped her to settle down a little bit.

When she first arrived in Timmins, she remembers saying there’s everything here: a library, a hospital, post-secondary education institutions, big mining companies, the transit system and affordable housing.

“My advice to newcomers would be to use the services of Timmins and District Multicultural Centre (TDMC), we can help you with all your settlement needs in Timmins. Also, use social media to join some social and cultural groups depending on your interests,” she says.

Rangi has travelled to more than a dozen countries and has lived in UK, Canada and Australia. Each country has pros and cons, she says. From a family perspective, the quality of life in those three countries is the same.

“I have many lived experiences with respect to immigration-related matters and challenges that newcomers experience in a new country and new community,” Rangi says.

When she looked at the Local Immigration Partnership Role at TDMC, she felt that she can add value and immediately applied for the role.

“And so far, it’s been a great experience to provide advocacy for newcomers in various aspects and creating a welcoming community,” she says.

Life in Timmins has been amazing, she says. Rangi, who has always lived in bigger cities, noticed it’s easy to make friends here and people are very welcoming in Timmins.

“On one occasion, I was able to start from my office, grab a lunch, do some quick grocery shopping and join a meeting — all in under 20 minutes,” she says. “This is a great example of perfect work-life balance with little to no traffic and you can get anywhere in 10 minutes. And nature is at our backdoor with lakes and hikes. What more could you ask for?”

As Northern Ontario and Timmins are experiencing labour shortage issues due to the aging population, out-migration and declining birth rates, newcomers contribute to the economic development by filling those labour shortages, Rangi says.

“In some cases, they also create jobs by opening businesses. They also bring diversity to our community with new culture, food and festivals,” she says.

Professionally, she’s passionate about diversity, equity and inclusion-related work. Rangi’s life motto is “to create an all-inclusive consciousness and experience of life in workplaces and beyond.”

As part of her job at the TDMC, she’s hosted intercultural competency training for various organizations in Timmins.

She also hosted a #IamRemarkable workshop. It’s a global initiative tackling the imposter syndrome and empowering people to celebrate their achievements.

In her personal life, Rangi enjoys taking long walks, cooking, travelling and healthy eating.

Travelling and cooking go hand-in-hand, she says. Everywhere she goes, she gets to taste a variety of food, meet different people and have conversations with them.

Rangi celebrates all Indian festivals, and she speaks Telugu at home. She keeps in touch with her family back home regularly, watches Indian movies, cooks Indian food and teaches her son the language, too.

“Kids growing up here are disconnected from their homeland, so it’s hard for us to have a conversation with them in Telugu. When I get a chance, I try to speak in Telugu with him and my parents,” she says.

In a few years, she sees herself as a program manager leading multiple large-scale projects. COVID-permitting, she’d like to travel to a few more countries, too.

Rangi didn’t imagine she would travel a lot and live in different countries.

“Growing up, I never thought this would happen,” she says. “It’s a bit surprising to myself but I enjoyed the whole experience.”

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