What’s New at CultureLink in December – End of the Year Newsletter

February 04, 2016
Dear Zarina,
Here’s wishing everyone a wonderful holiday season. As you may know,CultureLink is working tirelessly for the arrival of Syrian refugees.Take a moment with your afternoon coffee or tea and learn about what’s happening at CultureLink. And please, forward this newsletter to your contacts as you feel appropriate.

CultureLink Welcoming Syrian Refugees

We are about to receive 10,000 Syrian refugees by the end of 2015, and another 15,000 by February 29, 2016. Some will be government sponsored, while many will be privately sponsored by motivated groups of citizens who are committed to welcoming Syrian families.
This influx of Syrian refugees is, in many ways, similar to the arrival of the Vietnamese Boat People in early 80s when the entire nation got involved in their reception and settlement. As part of that effort, both the Federal and Provincial government played leadership roles, and a 1986 study by Employment and Immigration Canada recommended that newcomers be settled more quickly and supported by settlement services. Also, Ontario Consultation on Reception Houses in 1987 recommended similar programs for newcomers. As a result of these recommendations the Metro Toronto HOST program was established in October of 1988 by a steering committee comprising of settlement service-providing organizations in Toronto.
Four years later, and precisely in October of 1992, this HOST program was incorporated to become CultureLink Settlement Services of Metropolitan Toronto. Therefore, CultureLink understands the needs of refugees relatively well.

A Night to Remember!
With the SWIS and Seniors Program at the Canadian Tenors Performance

The world renowned Canadian band Tenor performed at the Air Canada Centre in front of a sold out crowd on November 24, 2015.  Among the audience who watched with awe as they performed are newcomers students from the Multicultural Clubs at Bishop Morroco/ St. Mary’s Secondary Catholic School, members of CultureLinkSeniors’ groups and other newcomer families from various programs of CultureLink Settlement and Community Services (CultureLink). Learn More

CultureLink Staff Christmas Party!

CultureLink celebrated its annual Christmas party on Friday Dec. 4th. The party was held at a restaurant called the host which had amazing Indian cuisine. Staff Erika planned fun activities: Christmas Baking Challenge and The Ugly Sweater Competition.
We also enjoyed a humorous game of paper plates led by staff Asal and Zarina.
A special thank you to Claudia and Ibrahim for arranging the venue, to all the staff that attended and to all staff that participated in the various activities.

When Newcomers Give Back….

On November 19th former students of Central Toronto Academy came back with their very special stories of success to address the whole school.  Among them were recipients of prestigious awards and scholarships for their extra-curricular and community work while they were students at the school. Zuberi Atard who founded Student Action Network to assist newcomer students to have volunteer experience and Isaac Hassen who was a NOW program volunteer and completed high school within one year after arrival to Canada. Learn More

CultureLink’s Bike to School Project - Building on Success!

This month, CultureLink received the wonderful news that our trailblazing Bike to School Project will be funded for the next three years by the Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Toronto District School Board. The Foundation will be investing $750,000 in our cycling education and engagement program; the TDSB is also making a significant contribution. With this support we look forward to greatly expanding our fleet of bicycles to better serve students in Scarborough, North York, Etobicoke and Downtown.  Learn More


Events – Get Involved!

  • January 2, 2016 - Soulpepper CultureLink New Canadian Welcome Program. Learn More
  • January 7, 2016 – March 10th 2016. “Discover Canada” Citizenship Education Mentoring Circle. Learn More

NextGen Resume - A New Approach to Youth Employment

This month, CultureLink’s Newcomer Youth Centre, SWIS and CCMP joined forces to deliver an innovative approach to tackling youth unemployment. Through a series of in-class workshops – and eventually online courses – this initiative teaches young people ages 18-25 how to leverage new-media when developing their resumes. Funded by the City of Toronto, the NextGen Resume workshop series teach youth who have little or no work experience or education how to create a multi-dimensional online presence that is advantageous to their employment and career development. Through the use of videos, info-graphics and career mentors, youth in the program learned how to leverage their lived experience when connecting with employers.

Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday and a Wonderful New Year!
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Bike to School Project gains momentum

February 01, 2016

The movement for active, safe and sustainable transportation options for children and youth got a big boost in Toronto recently, with the announcement that the Bike to School Project has received a three-year grant from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, an agency of the Government of Ontario.

Led by CultureLink Settlement and Community Services, in collaboration with Cycle Toronto and the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank, the Bike to School Project aims to provide cycling education programs to 22,000 Toronto students. Other strategies for inspiring youth to travel and explore their communities by bicycle include:

  • After-school bike clubs in high schools
  • The Bike to School Week campaign (May 30 – June 3, 2016) celebrated throughout the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area with the support of Smart Commute, a program of Metrolinx
  • The Bike to School Leadership Camp, which inspires youth to bike and to get involved in the global movement for active, safe and sustainable transportation.

CultureLink is seeking candidates for two full-time positions to carry out this project, which begins April 1, 2016. Deadline to apply is February 15, 2016. Seasonal work will be available in future.

For more information visit us online at Bike to School Project.

A success story from the CIBC-CultureLink mentoring partnership

January 26, 2016

The day we landed in Toronto, it was minus 20 Celsius. I have lived my whole life in a country which is 30 C all year round! Despite the cold, it was refreshing to be breathing in constant fresh air. Being totally foreign to this place, I learn to see things brand new, like a baby, and adapt to a whole new world.

Tingpei with her CIBC branch manager and a colleague came to deliver donations to CultureLink #RefugeeWelcome Donation Centre

After 6 months, my husband was not getting anywhere close to finding a job, so I decided to join the bandwagon of job seekers and try my luck. I registered with CultureLink’s Career Mentorship Program and was assigned a volunteer mentor for the next few months. My mentor, Mr. Cass Simmons, with his knowledge and guidance, was very helpful as I began my job search.

I also started attending CultureLink events held in collaboration with various corporations within the financial services industry. I found these quick face-to-face meetings with individual employees representing different divisions of their organisations an excellent opportunity to network and understand what Canadian employers are essentially looking for. It was also a chance to market ourselves in this highly competitive job market.

Last October, CultureLink and CIBC co-organised a resume workshop and mentoring event. Hidden behind this mentoring event was a recruitment drive for CIBC’s retail banking of GTA West. It was through this event that I was introduced to their recruiters and after subsequent interviews that I successfully landed a job in the bank. All within a span of 3 months from my first meeting with them. And to top it off, I am currently assigned for training at the branch closest to me, which happens to be in the same building where I currently reside.

I am utterly thankful for this opportunity and to CultureLink for delivering such great initiatives for newcomers. You guys make a difference!!

by Tingpei L.

Soulpepper’s Winter Waves Festival – a hit for New Canadian Welcome Program

January 26, 2016

Newcomer families were thrilled to be a part of the 2nd Soulpepper-CultureLink Welcome Event. It took place on January 2, 2016 at Soulpepper’s Young Centre for the Performing Arts Theatre in the heart of the Distillery District. The Soulpepper artists and technicians put on a fabulous day of entertainment and mingling, just for CultureLink. Fifteen newcomer families joined the festivities for the first time and eight families were welcomed back from the first Event held in May 2015.

With light snacks and coffee to start the day, the families were matched with their Soulpepper mentors and friends and began the day with introductions and socializing. After a warm welcome from, Albert Schultz, Soulpepper’s community-building and visionary Artistic Director, the matches soon were off exploring and the various venues in Youngspace. They enjoyed wonderful performances including:  Virtuosic Toronto– live dance and music with film projections; Wee Concert – a sing-along for the whole family; and Bedtime Stories – songs and poems. The very popular ‘Bubble Wrap’ room saw children and parents alike enjoying the satisfying sounds of popping bubbles as they wandered down the bubble wrap trail. Other interactive features included a Theatre Play Room and The Canopy of Connection where participants could label their home country on a map with a paper streamer and then connect it with their new home in Toronto on another map across the room.

As part of the New Canadian Welcome Program, Soulpepper provides free access to their theatre shows for a full year. With the likes of “Alligator Pie”, “Kim’s Convenience” ,“Parfumerie” and many more entertaining and culturally rich productions, newcomer participants are sure to be pleased. One of our past participants remarked, “I feel like I have won the lottery!”

Viktoriia, a newcomer from Kyrgyzstan with a young family reflected, “Many new Canadians … do not attend cultural events because they are worried about their level of English. When I got a call from the CultureLink and [was] asked whether I have an interest to be a participant of this program, I had doubts. I asked myself, and if I [will] understand the performances in English. I have basic English. But when I came to the theater everything was so well organized and thought out, I stopped doubting. I attended 4 performances. Everything was fine. I realized that I understand English better than before. I even forgot that I do not understand some words. Live emotions оn the stage of your theatre are admirable.”

- by Lisa Randall, Program Manager, Settlement Workers in School Program