Soulpepper’s Cabaret – New Canadian Welcome

May 26, 2016

Now in year two of CultureLink’s partnership with Soulpepper to welcome new Canadians into Soulpepper’s rich cultural performances and space, the partnership is growing in new and exciting ways.

April 30th, Soulpepper’s artists teamed up to create a cabaret for our newcomer families. Songs of welcome, friendship and encouragement were the themes of the day with piano, accordion, saxophone and vocalist featured.

Mask-making was also happening to engage the children’s imagination. Later in the cabaret, the children were welcomed to join in the music-making with percussion instruments and general merry-making as they scampered about full of glee and spirit.

Hopefully next time our newcomers will also take the stage and share in their musical talents. With such a wonderful afternoon had by all,Soulpepper will add this as a part of the program. Lucky everyone!!!

Leaders of Tomorrow – GEMS Summit

May 25, 2016

In April, young women students of St. Joseph’s College Catholic Secondary Schools had the wonderful opportunity of participating in the Girls E-Mentorship Innovation (GEM) summit entitled “Leaders of Tomorrow”. GEM is a charitable organization that offers an innovative mentorship program designed by girls for girls and a mission to mitigate the adverse effects of poverty through electronic and in-person mentorship. GEM’s vision is to bridge a social divide between at-risk girls and professional women and to motivate girls to reach their full potential no matter where they started.

To begin, a meeting with Helen Lesniak, Maria Guiao, Rochelle de Goias, ED of GEM and Cassandra Hammett, Program Manager of GEM, was set up and Rochelle and Cassandra presented to the ESL/newcomers class at the school. Peter Beamish, ESL Head, Maria Guiao, Settlement Workers in Schools and ESL/newcomer students were informed and invited,  to the “Influencers Of Tomorrow” Summit , Changing Toronto, For Girls By Girls, at MaRS Discovery District on Saturday, April 16th. “150 High School Students change-makers were invited to reimagine ways to shape and change their community through education, music, sport, filmmaking, entrepreneurship and social advocacy”. Ten students from St. Joseph’s attended the Summit.  They all stated it was very educational, inspirational, inspiring and motivational and an overall amazing Summit experience.

Inspirational Guest Speakers: Kathleen Wynne (Premier of Ontario), Marc Kielburger (Co-founder, Free the Children), Zahra al Harazi (Celebrated Entrepreneur, Canadian UNICEF Ambassador), Clara Hughes (Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist), Nefe (Musician) and  Alaa Murabit (Physician, Women’s Rights Activist and UN Advisor). Partners are The Bishop Strachan School and GEM. Our hope is that next year the young women students from St. Joseph’s College will be out in greater numbers.

Next step – mentors!

By: Maria Guiao

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Somali Speaking Settlement Worker

March 21, 2016

Opening # 6                                                                                                     Posting Date:  March 21, 2016

Job Posting Somali Speaking School Settlement Worker, Settlement Workers in Schools

Classification A: 35 hours/week: Internal and External Posting

Start Date: April 1, 2016

CultureLink is seeking one full-time position for the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) Program. Language skills in Somali are essential to provide settlement assistance to the Somalian school community across the geography of Cluster 5. The SWIS Program Worker is part of CultureLink’s SWIS Program and reports to the Cluster 5 Program Manager, SWIS.  The successful candidate will be placed in select schools to assist Somalian speaking newcomer families and youth with their settlement needs and integration process. CultureLink works within an anti-oppression framework and is committed to equity.


  • Promote the CultureLink SWIS program and to establish a positive working relationship with the TDSB, TCDSB and other community and partner agencies;
  • Identify the needs of immigrant families and youth in selected elementary and secondary public and catholic schools; service families and youth from all cultural groups;
  • Effective liaison with and within both the Catholic and the Toronto District School Board;
  • Provide settlement services and assistance to meet newcomer needs, and make appropriate referrals as the need arises; follow-up with clients as required;
  • Perform outreach for and develop and deliver key summer settlement service components;
  • Manage a caseload of the newcomer participants; intake, needs assessment, client action plans
  • Reach target deliverables of client services monthly;
  • Timely input of client work into database; tracking internal referrals;
  • Manage pro-active, positive relations with school administrations;
  • Manage an assignment of schools and itinerant schools; plan SWIS activities for the year with school;
  • Develop and facilitate a specified number of group sessions to meet the needs of the participants;
  • Prepare and submit progress reports to supervisor as required;
  • Public education and advocacy; evaluation of program for client input and program development;
  • Participate in regular program and agency team meetings; leadership when called upon or initiated;
  • Shared development and facilitation of program initiatives;
  • Participate in agency-wide activities as assigned; attend staff training;

Other duties as assigned by supervisor.


  • Post-secondary degree in human services related field or combination of equivalent education and or experience;
  • Progressive 3- 5 years of practical experience in direct provision of settlement services, i.e., one-on-one counseling and group sessions; experience working with newcomers and diverse populations;
  • Intake, needs assessment, group facilitation, caseload management and problem solving skills;
  • Experienced in facilitation, knowledge and ability to develop presentations based upon requirements;
  • Knowledge of community resources, Toronto Catholic and Toronto District School Board system;
  • Research skills to locate necessary resources and develop new ones as needed;
  • Ability to establish and maintain effective working relationships with team, other staff, school personnel and other service providers; pro-active and proven problem-solving skills;
  • Understanding and sensitivity to issues affecting newcomers; ability to bridge cultures;
  • Strong program planning skills, and proven track record in identifying effective programs that address the needs of immigrant families and youth in the school system;
  • Willing to take initiative and be resourceful addressing settlement needs of families and youth;
  • Strong oral and written communication skills in English; must demonstrate initiative, self-direction;
  • Ability to work cooperatively as part of a team and to give input into program and strategic planning;
  • Commitment to anti-racism, anti-oppression and combating other forms of discrimination;
  • Fluency in Somali is essential, additional fluency in Arabic would be considered an asset
  • Vulnerable Sector Police Record check and a note from family doctor as proof of the TB test are required

This position is remunerated at $24.25 – 25.71 per hour. The deadline for internal/external applicants is March 28, 2016 by 5:00 pm. We thank all applicants for their interest in the position, however, only candidates selected for an interview will be contacted.

If you are interested in this position, please submit a cover letter and resume to Human resources:                   CultureLink Settlement and Community Services

2340 Dundas St. West. Suite 301

Toronto, Ontario M6P 4A9


Fax: 416-588-2435

For more information visit

This is a Bargaining Unit Position

Skating with Elvis Stojko at the Welcome to Canada Party

February 23, 2016

The weather could not have been more cooperative; the people could not have been more friendly. For welcoming our new neighbours, nothing is more Canadian than a skating party and, when it comes to teaching skating, few in the world are more qualified than Elvis Stojko, three-time world champion figure skater. This was the scene at the “Welcome to Canada” skating party co-organized by The Second Cup Ltd. and CultureLink on Saturday Feb. 20, 2016 at Harbourfront. For the 135 Syrian refugees and 48 other newcomers that CultureLink brought to the party, it was almost too good to be true.

To add to the sweetness of the party, our event host and sponsor poured seemingly endless cups of scrumptious hot chocolate and served yummy chocolate cookies. “Many of us understand the challenges of adjusting to a new home and we hope that this event will make the transition a little easier for the newest members of our community,” said Vanda Provato, The Second Cup’s VP, Marketing.

To me, it’s incredibly rewarding that one of CultureLink’s most innovative settlement programs, “Wintegration” (winter + integration) – which uses winter outdoor activities to help newcomers acclimate to the weather as well as to the culture – was endorsed and enjoyed on such a grand scale. Integration is a two-way process; it was heartening to see so many Torontonians, with different accents and different skin colours, turned out to welcome these new Canadians. Volunteers helped our newcomers to lace up and supported them on the skates. For many Syrians, this was their very first time ever standing on ice.

This was truly an eventful day: Elvis Stojko’s star turn, The Second Cup CEO’s charisma, our very own Syrian refugee-turned-volunteer, Mounir, who was a hot ticket for the media…., but the moment that moved me most was in the morning, when the long-anticipated buses gradually pulled in. I saw the kids’ excited faces at the windows. They waved hard at me and shouted in Arabic conveying an excitement that needed no translation. They looked different from a few days earlier when I’d met them in the hotel. There was the same level of restlessness, but what had been dull and irritated before, was thrilled and daring now. It brought tears to my eyes to see how happy they were to be at the party, to skate with other Canadians, old and new, and to pose with a Canadian icon on theice.

Two hours passed by like nothing and it was time for our guests to return to their hotel. When I took off the yellow hat and scarf that The Second Cup had given me and handed it to a refugee woman, her face lit up. “Thank you, thank you Canada!” she said. After they all boarded the bus, we stood by to see them off. Little kids again came to the windows to talk to us. They shouted, giggled, and kept blowing kisses from their chocolate-moustached mouths. Our volunteer Arshiah went closer to tap the window gently with open hands. The Syrian kids took turns patting their little hands onto hers – I bet they could feel her warmth despite the windowpane between them. A little, doll-like baby pressed her face against the window—her tiny nose was squished playfully and her eyes so pristine that you are only going to find a beautiful world inside. With a mesmerizing smile, she fastened her eyes upon me, melting my heart as the bus pulled away.

Little baby, I know it will not be easy for your careworn people to settle and integrate in a cold and unknown country. But you are in Canada now and, trust us, we will make you feel at home.

by Fei Tang, Mentorship Program Manager