Reaching for Goals – SEAP

February 01, 2017

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 or at 647-641-8162. If you are interested in becoming a SEAP mentor, please visit for application details.

Alasis Mohamed, Student Education Attainment Program

One World Living Together, St. Joseph’s College ESL Week

January 30, 2017

St. Joseph’s College School organized an English Second language (ESL) Week Luncheon at the school gym. The week, named “One World Living Together” included activities from November 21-25, 2016. Special guest Senator Tobias Enverga, was in attendance at the ESL Week Luncheon which was a fantastic multicultural show celebration gathering for all ESL students. Senator Tobias Enverga, Mrs. Rosemer Enverga, Principal Helen Lesniak, Vice-Principals Jennifer Corbett , Mary Topping Keenan, ESL Head Department Peter Beamish, Sarah Lopes, Judy Pregelj, Josephine Lobo, staff and Maria Guiao, School Settlement Worker all supported the event.

Joyful and warm welcome greetings from Helen Lesniak led the day followed by an empowering speech straight from the heart. Peter Beamish provided an inspirational and positive message with Maria Guiao. A successful immigrant story introduction to the ESL Week luncheon was provided by guest speaker Senator Enverga who was also a former Toronto Catholic District School Board Trustee. He told his life story as an immigrant, the joys and challenges of everyday life, his strong values of life and emphasized how exposure to a wide range of disciplines provides an opportunity to explore new areas to set goals and transform dreams into realities. Strong education is vital for the prosperity of individuals, ourselves, our family, our community and our nation. Success and opportunities for all. The multicultural show by the ESL students was fantastic! The ESL luncheon event was joyful, warm and welcoming and brought a sense of belonging to this school-family celebration. There was relaxing, fun and good times, inspiring, motivating and a camaraderie for all. All attendees were invited to sing along with the performers to the songs “We are the World” and “Let It Be” and others.

Beamish and ESL students performed their artistic talents that everyone enjoyed listening to.  ESL students were feeling proud of their performance! A catered ESL Week sumptuous lunch buffet was provided by the school. Together Senator Tobias and Rosemer Enverga, Judy Pregelj and Maria Guiao went to other school classes. Senator Tobias Enverga, invited the school staff to bring the students to Parliament in Ottawa for an educational trip.

This was an unforgettable ESL Week! And St. Joseph’s College School were honoured to welcome our Special Guests.

Maria Guiao, Settlement Workers in Schools

Helping Students Create a Professional Digital Footprints

January 27, 2017

The Youth Online Employment Strategy (YOES) is an innovative pre-employment program designed by CultureLink to teach youth ages 15-29 how to market themselves in today’s digital world.  Starting in October 2016, YOES has been offering school-based, pre-employment training workshops to help students prepare for today’s competitive job market. Through step-by-step instruction, students in this program learn how to build a professional digital profile by creating new-media based resumes and, how to leverage social media tools in their job search.

Over the past few months, students in Greenwood Secondary School’s Career Studies and Riverdale Collegiate Institute’s Co-op classes have been putting their digital and creative skills to use to build creative infographic resumes that showcase who they are beyond the bullets of their traditional resumes. This has been a positive and fun experience for many students and has helped them identify their strengths, skills and build their confidence when speaking about their various work, volunteer and school experiences.

Here is what some of the students had to say:

“The most awesome thing about it was learning how to make an infographic resume and seeing how it stands out more in bold and vivid colors, texts and picturesCo-op student from Riverdale Collegiate

“I found that this workshop is helping me know more about myself by working on an online resume and how to get a job” – Career Studies student from Greenwood Secondary

“I am very glad we had the opportunity to take this course.  Thanks.” – Co-op student from Riverdale Collegiate

In addition to in-class workshops, YOES is also offered online.  We will be relaunching our popular NextGen Resumes – Creative Self-Marketing MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) on this coming March.  Stay tuned for details.  For more information about this program and upcoming workshops, please contact Asal at or 416-588-6288×211.

Asal Afshar, Youth Online Employment Strategy

Failure – The First Step to Success

January 27, 2017

Maged Mohammed is a Grade 12 student who attends Central Technical School (CTS). He was born in Saudi Arabia of Yemeni background and came to Canada in June 2014. When he arrived in Canada he could not speak a word of English. He said it was really tough for him as he was placed in Grade 10 and started learning English as a Second Language (ESL) at Level A, the lowest level for ESL students. After two years of persistent studies and working hard to improve his English, Maged was encouraged by one of his teachers to enter the Toronto District school board ESL speech competition. The competition runs at three levels, the local school, the board quadrants and the final competition is Toronto-wide. Maged won the local school competition at CTS. He then competed against ESL E students in the west quadrant and again was awarded first place. Maged said he became quite nervous at the final round and did not win. However, teachers, classmates and settlement workers are very proud of his efforts because he had the courage to speak before an audience of educators and learners.

Maged’s teachers have seen his dedication to learning. His participation in school activities and programs such as the NOW Club have been instrumental in helping him improve his English and developing his confidence. Through the Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS) Program, Maged was selected as a peer leader in 2015 and he continues to mentor other peer leaders and newcomer students.

Maged stated that the speech competition helped him to understand both his limits and his potential. He discovered that even though he worked hard to improve his skills, he still has a lot of work to do. However, he is proud of his achievement and it gives him the courage to join other competitions and engage in other leadership roles. His advice for other newcomer students who are struggling with their English is, although it might not be easy, they must keep on practicing.

Maged did not win the Toronto wide competition but he sums up his participation in this way, ‘You might fail, crumble or might get devastated, but you get to know that failure is the first step to success; if you have never failed and tried again, you would never know your potential.’

Congratulations Maged on your achievement.

Constance Kendall, SWIS Program

Christmas at Mimico – Making New Community Memories in Canada

January 27, 2017

The annual Christmas celebration at Mimico Library, organised by the Library Settlement Partnership program, has become one of the yearly events that people look forward to attending the most. Claudia Montoya, Settlement Worker from CultureLink placed at Mimico Library, sees this event as a good opportunity to build shared memories. Such memories turn into a resource that strengthens the sense of belonging in the community as well as tools that aligns newcomers’ efforts to integrate in their new life in Canada.

Christmas at Mimico hosts over 100 children and their parents; assisting children and their families in the integration process in the new community that they now call home. In that manner, children experience the spirit of Christmas while sharing with their peers and thus there is a noticeable increase in children’s self-esteem. Furthermore, the main goal of this yearly event is to have both children and their parents enjoying an inclusive celebration that they can relate to; as well as to provide the conditions where a cheerful holiday season assists to decrease newcomers’ levels of stress resulting from a new environment.

This event has strengthened the sense of belonging of newcomers who have attended this celebration in the past. Participants have become involved in this event’s planning and development as a legacy to the most recent newcomers that are just beginning their settlement process in Canada. The Christmas celebration at Mimico has the unwavering support of over 30 volunteers. I like to think of them as angels due to their various contributions to this event. In fact, the volunteers play such an important role in making it possible that children and their parents enjoy a healthy lunch while awaiting for the arrival of Santa Claus and gifts. A case in point is Alexandra Agudelo, an artist and a volunteer, who has planned this event’s decoration and she has, in fact, done it for the past 8 years. She adds her personal touch by transforming both the room and the stage into more than just a place full of decoration; rather she allows children to be transported to a wonderland by creating an ambiance full of hope and magic. Due to her skills as a decorator, I have obtained wonderful photographs that transport the viewer into that space and time.

Finally, this celebration would not be possible without community building and creating rapport in order to build healthy communities. Different organizations, entrepreneurs, volunteers and artists have come together and assisted in the making of the yearly Christmas celebration at Mimico. For this reason, members of the community are the backbone of this celebration that aims to integrate newcomers in their new life in Canada. Thank you to all the community members, volunteers, and our team members who were instrumental in making this holiday season special for our newest community members.

Claudia Montoya, Library Settlement Program