The Philippines is the top source country of new immigrants to Canada. Many Filipino newcomers, especially women, work in the caring industries, in health care, childcare and homecare. The government of the Philippines refers to these workers as “heroes of the nation”, because of the remittances they are able to send back home. But there is a heavy cost; often children are left back home with family until the mothers are settled enough to send for them, and the family separation and reunification process is challenging.
In January and February, CultureLink hosted a series of workshops for Filipino mothers, led by Celia Cruz with support from Maria Guiao and Marina Sokolov. Topics included employment and careers, building healthy relationships, self-care, family law, and fun and recreation.
Kipling Collegiate Institute is the proud host of a fleet of bicycles thanks to the Bike to School Project! The bikes were delivered on March 1, 2017, and will be used by students and staff during education programs and an after-school bike club. CultureLink will maintain the bicycles and help teachers organize activities, in the same way we do at Central Toronto Academy and West Hill Collegiate Institute. We are finalizing details with a North York school as we speak!
Funding for the bicycles was provided by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. The Bike to School Project is a collaborative initiative led by CultureLink with partners Cycle Toronto and the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank.
Even in the depths of winter, CultureLink’s innovative cycling programs connect bicycles and newcomers. In the last week of January 2017, Toronto City Hall hosted a unique display of photography created by newcomers to Canada who participated in Bike Host, our program which loans bicycles to immigrants and refugees and matches them with volunteer mentors who ride regularly. Through their photography, they explored how a bicycle could help them adjust to life in Canada. Some of their work was featured in the 2016 Bike Host publication.
By the end of the program, participants were making 31% of their daily trips by bicycle – a powerful outcome. 81% said that the program had both improved their knowledge of Toronto and their health and well-being. As a bonus, 75% agreed they saved money on transit fares! A report based on analysis of entry and exit surveys, prepared by Trudy Ledsham and Emma Heffernan of the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank, is available here.
The Bikes and Belonging exhibition was paired with research and programming highlights from the Scarborough Cycles project. As part of Scarborough Cycles, two community bike hubs were opened in Scarborough in 2016, and offered cycling-supportive programming, including Bike Host. Researchers also investigated the barriers faced by suburban cyclists and uncovered some surprising opportunities for cycling in Scarborough.
At CultureLink, NOW means Newcomer Orientation Week. It’s a program for newcomer students entering secondary school, to help ensure they have the information they need to succeed. CultureLink has traditionally offered NOW programs in late August, but last year we began to run a program in winter as well, for students who may have missed out or who may have arrived in Canada during the fall. With over 70 youth participants overall, our recent mini-NOW programs were not so mini! The video captures some of the great energy at these events, carried out by Ronald Rojas and Marianella Quintana. Many thanks to the administration and Guidance Departments at our partner schools, St. Mary’s Catholic Academy and Bishop Marrocco / Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School, and the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
In 2016, CultureLink launched the Student Education Attainment Program (SEAP) – a mentorship program designed to help students of Somali descent with credit accumulation and educational attainment. Over the past 5 months, we have been busy recruiting and training mentors, organising community information sessions, meeting with the community partners and registering students.
This past December, we were ready to start matching students with their mentors. 20 Students, their parents and 15 mentors were invited to one of three Mentor-Mentee Match Nights. With delicious food and icebreaker activities planned, mentors, mentees and their parents had an opportunity to meet and get to know each other, learn more about the program and what to expect in the coming months. You could see the excitement in their eyes as students and mentors sat together and began talking about their goals and expectations for the program. If you are interested in learning more about SEAP and how to register, please contact Alasis Mohamed at email@example.com or at 647-641-8162. If you are interested in becoming a SEAP mentor, please visit
https://charityvillage.com/directories/volunteers/search-results/volunteer-detail.aspx?id=354498&l=2 for application details.
Alasis Mohamed, Student Education Attainment Program