CultureLink has been the leader in the settlement and community sector in Toronto for 30 years.
Known for innovation, CultureLink introduced such pioneering initiatives as the HOST program, English Conversation Circles, social service MOOCs (Massive Online Open Courses), Nai Children’s Choir, Wintegration, the New Canadian Life radio show, Green Settlement™ and Bike Host.
CultureLink served over half of the 5,000 Syrians who came to Toronto in 2015-2016, and is the leading agency working with Roma refugees in the city. We are the only settlement agency that has been accredited by Imagine Canada. A majority of our staff have received Certified Information and Referral Specialist training which enables them to deliver the highest standards of referrals for our participants.
As a leader in Green Settlement™, CultureLink has worked with the Toronto District School Board to adopt the TDSB Charter for Active, Safe and Sustainable Transportation and to establish Bike to School Week, a campaign which involved over 50,000 students across Ontario in 2018.
Our executive director is recognized by the community and industry as a leader in immigration policy and services. He is past president of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and past board member of the Canadian Council for Refugees.
We served 25,910 clients with settlement and community services, and delivered 1,817 group sessions, workshops, and events.
In response to community need and our strategic plan to expand services, we opened a brand new second location – CultureLink’s Children and Youth Centre. This wonderful new site, at 3535 Dundas Street at Jane Street, provides activities to support and empower children and youth to reach their goals and build healthy and rewarding lives.
The inauguration of our Labour Market Access Program prepared immigrant job-seekers to be early adopters with technology and soft skills.
Settlement Workers in Community Spaces grew organizational reach to civic locations including City Hall, Toronto Employment and Social Services, Community Centres and shelters downtown. February 2018 marked the launch of the IT Security Project with a new team to develop this emerging and critical program.
We successfully reached the organizational goal of providing services for newcomer women with our new Integration and Settlement Support Program with services for vulnerable and refugee women and youth. This project works closely with our Settlement Workers in School Program and in partnership with local school boards.
Culturelink’s Nai Children’s Choir was formed as a creative outlet for Arabic-speaking children. Now, with three-year funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation to expand to three new sites across the GTA, Nai is set to send their melodies far and wide to further inspire the choristers and the general public through ‘healing, learning & rejoicing’.
This year we built upon our organizational value of engaging in continuous learning and improvement to ensure that our programs and services incorporate best practices and remain responsive. To support Truth and Reconciliation, our staff participated in an Indigenous Cultural Competency Training with the Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres. To increase organizational capacity to more effectively serve LGBTQIA+ immigrants, refugees and newcomerss, staff part in OCASI’s Positive Spaces training series.
Bike Host and Scarborough Cycles
- The 2016-17 Bike Host program focused on residents in the east end of Toronto. In 2016, Bike Host and CultureLink were recognized with the “Wheels of Change” advocacy award from Share the Road Cycling Coalition, the provincial cycling organization.
- During the year participants included 55 newcomers and 22 mentors.
Bike to School Project
- During the year, the Bike to School Project delivered 83 cycling education programs in which 11,178 students participated and 301 schools registered for Bike to School Week.
- In 2016-17, the Bike to School Project grew with one new full-time program worker focused on high school engagement and a team of 12 seasonal Cycling Educators. We hosted two placement students from the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education and the University of Toronto, and for the first time, six co-op placement secondary school students.
- We installed new fleets of bikes at West Hill Collegiate Institute in Scarborough, Marc Garneau Collegiate Institute in North York and Kipling Collegiate Institute in Etobicoke, and hosted a successful Bike to School Leadership Camp with renowned speaker Gil Penalosa.
Community Connections Mentorship Program
- In 2016-17, the CCMP program hosted 111 events, facilitated 642 matches and served 1,041 clients.
- Though many Syrian refugees arrived earlier, this past year saw a proliferation of programming specifically geared to meet their needs such as a Men’s English Conversation Circle (ECC) which focused on job-related terminology, a women’s English Conversation Circle which reviewed Canadian values and norms, the Suriyat project which provided Syrian women and children an opportunity to socialize and the Nai Choir.
- The Nai Choir provided free music education to 81 refugee children and 42 weeks of ECC to their parents.
- In addition to working with existing partners, Luminato, Soulpepper and CDW, this year saw the forging of partnerships with the Koffler Centre, Hot Docs, Aga Khan Museum, Arts in the Park and the Dabke project.
Library Settlement Partnership (LSP)
- LSP has provided 1,510 clients settlement services at the Eatonville Library, Lillian H. Smith Library and Mimico Library.
- It provided Welcome Orientation Sessions for Syrian Refugees for six months to provide them with settlement information and was instrumental in helping them obtain free laptops, furniture and clothing.
Newcomer Settlement Program (NSP)
- In 2016-17, the NSP team provided more than 2,476 services reaching up to 1,710 clients.
- NSP saw an increase of Roma refugees and the team is proud that they were able to address the highest rate of refugee clients for this group.
Settlement Workers in Schools (SWIS)
- SWIS served 35 schools on a weekly basis to 3,273 new clients and 4,421 clients who received repeat service and 90 itinerant schools on an as-needed basis.
- SWIS staff also provided a total of 405 group sessions on such topics as School Welcome, Community Orientation, Education System, Cultural Presentation and Parenting.
- Newcomer Orientation Week (NOW) activities continued to be hugely among the youth where leadership training was featured and 28 Peer Leaders welcomed 160 newcomers to their new Canadian school in the week before school begins.
Youth and Seniors Services
- Through the Sankofa Drop-in, Youth Recreation Club, Youth Online Employment Strategy (YOES), Mabelle Afterschool, Global Roots, Youth Summer Theatre, Multi-Cultural Club and Student Education Attainment Program (SEAP) programs we impacted 719 unique newcomers and racialized youth, and 11,900 youth returned to programs on multiple occasions. The programs delivered 486 workshops, 36 group outings, 12 special events and two training opportunities.
- The youth department developed two MOOCs titled NextGen Resume: Creative Self-Marketing and Engaging & Empowering: How to Effectively Mentor Vulnerable Youth which reached over 1,850 global learners.
- One of the main reasons CultureLink’s youth and seniors services continue to thrive is because of our committed volunteers. This year we had CultureLink trained 50 seniors to facilitate 140 outdoor activities, workshops, cultural events and group outings to a lively group of 110 newcomer senior, and 5,720 repeat clients.