Bike Host

Bike Host matches up newcomers who are open to cycling with mentors who ride regularly. In large and small group activities, Bike Host participants practice their communication skills and learn about civic engagement, all while exploring Toronto by bike. It is a great opportunity for the newcomers to gain some Canadian experience while enjoying fun and healthy outdoor activities.

For 2016 we are pleased to be partnering with the South Riverdale Community Health Centre and the Scarborough Cycles Bike Hubs at AccessPoint on Danforth and Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre. Scarborough Cycles is a project led by the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, a project of Clean Air Partnership, with partners Cycle Toronto, the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank, and CultureLink.

BECOME A MENTOR

Mentors are interesting and outgoing Toronto residents from all walks of life. They have strong communication skills and a genuine desire to create a more welcoming community. They must ride regularly and be reasonably confident on city streets. Mentors are required to be at least 19 years of age. Expected volunteer commitment is approximately 35 hours between May and October. Responsibilities include regular communication with newcomer participants and CultureLink staff, planning activities with 2-4 newcomer participants at mutually agreeable times, participating in monthly large group activities, and supporting the development of cycling skills and confidence. In 2016, Bike Host is focusing on matching mentors and newcomers in the neighbourhoods of east Toronto (including East York and Scarborough).

Additional criteria, skills and requirements for being a successful Bike Host mentor:

  • Must attend mentors’ orientation(s) and matching session
  • Must provide two references (non-family)
  • Must provide a police clearance letter (reimbursement available once accepted into the program; a valid police clearance letter acquired for other jobs/volunteer positions is acceptable)
  • Should have knowledge of Toronto’s local culture/neighbourhoods – in particular, east Toronto, including East York or Scarborough – and free events and activities
  • Capability to help newcomers practise English and learn new skills in project management/event planning will be an asset
  • Small-group facilitation experience and ability to engage participants of varying skills and language levels will be an asset
  • Experience working with newcomers or diverse clients will be an asset

We have now completed mentor recruitment for 2016. If you are still interested in volunteering this year, or would like to be put on a list for consideration for future years, please contact us. See below for mandatory mentor orientation dates (attend 1 of 3):

  • Tuesday, May 10, 2016, 7 PM–9:30 PM
    Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, 93 Birchmount Road
  • Saturday, May 14, 2016, 10 AM–1 PM
    AccessPoint on Danforth, 3079 Danforth Avenue
  • Thursday, May 26, 2016, 6 PM–8:30 PM
    Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre, 86 Blake Street

Pre-registration is required. Please review this information about CultureLink’s mentorship programs, and click on the “Become a Mentor” button to sign up!

If you have any questions, contact Vivien Leong, Program Worker, Bike Host: bikehost@culturelink.ca or 647-713-9188.

JOIN AS A NEWCOMER PARTICIPANT

Bike Host newcomer participants are from around the world and have typically lived in Canada anywhere from a few months to 3 years (but there is no maximum to participate). They know how to ride a bicycle, and will be able to borrow a Bike Host bicycle for the summer if they don’t have a bicycle of their own.

Through the program, newcomer participants will gain confidence riding in the city, enjoy fun and healthy outdoor activities, meet people, and gain meaningful Canadian experience. The program falls within CultureLink’s civic engagement mentorship category, as a New Canadian Experience initiative that provides newcomers with volunteer experience, which counts as bona fide work experience. In 2016, Bike Host is focusing on matching mentors and newcomers in the neighbourhoods of east Toronto (including East York and Scarborough).

Requirements to register as a Bike Host newcomer participant include the following:

  • Must be a Convention refugee or permanent resident (documents required)
  • Must be 19 years or older
  • Can commit to 30 volunteer hours
  • Speak English (LINC 4 or above)
  • Know how to ride a bicycle
  • Pass a group interview

    Recruitment of newcomer participants for the 2016 program has been completed. If you would like to be put on a list for consideration for future years, please contact us. See below for program orientation dates (must attend 1 of 3):

    • AccessPoint on Danforth, 3079 Danforth Avenue
      Saturday, June 4, 2016, 10 AM–1 PM
    • Birchmount Bluffs Neighbourhood Centre, 93 Birchmount Road
      Tuesday, June 7, 2016, 7 PM–9:30 PM
      (refreshments for iftar will be available)
    • Eastview Neighbourhood Community Centre, 86 Blake Street
      Tuesday, June 28, 2016, 6 PM–9 PM
      (refreshments for iftar will be available)

    Pre-registration is required. To register, visit CultureLink Mentorship Programs, click on “Newcomers Sign Up Here!” and complete the intake form, selecting the “Civic Engagement” mentorship category. Thank you!

    If you have any questions, contact Rubeen Chauhan, Mentorship Program Worker: rchauhan@culturelink.ca or 416-588-6288 x231.

    HIGHLIGHTS AND MEDIA COVERAGE

    March 25, 2015, Metro News: Bike Host program helps newcomers get in gear in Toronto

    March 19, 2015, Spacing blog: Bikes, Community and New Lives

    March 12, 2015, Spacing blog: Green settlement: living sustainable lives in Canada

    June 3, 2014, Canadian Immigrant: A Toronto program uses two wheels to connect newcomers to the city

    October 23, 2013, Spacing Magazine: Cycling Think & Do Tank: Bikes and Barriers — Is it only the physical ones that matter to New Canadians?

    Spring 2012, Rogers TV: Introducing Toronto

    April 23, 2012, Toronto Star and Metro: Newcomers to Toronto connect to the city on two wheels

    April 20, 2012, CBC’s “Here and Now”: Discovering the city – with a little help from some friends

    April 17, 2012, Sing Tao (biggest Chinese newspaper in Canada)

    You can also read stories of Bike Host experiences from this issue of the Welcoming Community News”, or view the video produced by Fei Tang and Lynda Young.

    Bike Host is affiliated with CultureLink’s Community Connections Mentorship Program, funded by Citizenship, Immigration and Refugees Canada. In 2016, it is offered in collaboration with the South Riverdale Community Health Centre (SRCHC) and Scarborough Cycles, a project funded by the Metcalf Foundation and led by the Toronto Centre for Active Transportation, a project of Clean Air Partnership, with partners Cycle Toronto, the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank, and CultureLink.