MPs Visit Multicultural Club at BMTM

CultureLink SWIS News

Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton (BMTM) Catholic Secondary School had a memorable day on Tuesday, April 4th, 2023, when Members of Parliament Arif Virani (Parkdale-High Park) and Yvan Baker (Etobicoke Centre) came to speak to the ESL classes about resources for newcomer students and families, such as immigration services and citizenship classes. The presentation was held in the Maria Pereira Learning Commons, where participants of the Multi-Cultural Club gathered to hear the speakers and learn more about the various government programs that can assist newcomers in settling into their new lives in Canada.

The students enjoyed the presentations that taught them how to access helpful services for themselves and their families. The MPs made it very clear that it was important to aim high in their dreams and aspirations for their new life in Canada. They also provided advice on how to create networks and seek out role models in their areas of interest.

Following the presentations, the MPs were happy to answer questions from our students’ ambassador Peer Leaders (Valerya, Isis, Joao). At the end, the students were invited to participate in games and activities planned by Culturelink’s Children and Youth Centre. Our staff led excited participants in fun-filled and interactive group games which enabled them, regardless of their background, to communicate and socialize with one another.

Refreshments were provided by BMTM teachers Ms. Yap and Mr. Kelly, and CultureLink’s Program Worker Mr. Rojas, and participants showed appreciation for the opportunity to learn from community leaders and interact with their peers.

This was a day that BMTM ESL students will surely remember. The combination of presentations and playful activities allowed them to get information to help their settlement journey, and to feel more comfortable at school and with their new lives in Canada.

LATAM Young-Preneur Conference

CultureLink SWIS News

On April 25, 2023 Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton Catholic Secondary School hosted an empowering event, supported by CultureLink’s Settlement Workers in School (SWIS) Program and the Community Relations Department of the Toronto Catholic District School Board (TCDSB), and in Partnership with the organization Canada Habla Español. The LATAM Young-Preneur Conference aimed to inspire the entrepreneurial thinking of Latin-American youth, and educate them on the impact of their community in the Canadian society.

The conference offered a lineup of six enthusiastic guest speakers, passionate about their area of expertise in entrepreneurship, including Mr. Manuel Camacho, the Director of LET Group and President of the Education Committee at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce (CANCHAM Mexico).

Over 100 students from various Toronto high schools turned out for the event. Discussions led by the guest speakers kept everyone engaged throughout the day. They learned learned about the principal traits of a successful entrepreneur, including the art of networking, risk-taking, and resilience; as well as the importance of financial literacy in entrepreneurship.

In addition to the informational sessions, the students were able to interact with members of the panel in smaller groups. Through informal conversations, successful Hispanic business leaders such as Fernando Vega and Juliana Montoya -Colmakers’ CEO & Founder and Director of Sales and Marketing (respectively)- shared their experiences and insights into running their businesses.

“This conference was an incredible opportunity for Latin-American youth to learn more about starting a business while also celebrating the contributions of the Latin-American community in Canada,” said Ronald Rojas, Program Worker at CultureLink’s SWIS Program. “The conference provided a space for youth to come together, share ideas, and gain practical tools to succeed not only as entrepreneurs but as leaders in their communities.”

With overwhelming positivity and excitement, the conference came to a close while students eagerly discussed their newfound knowledge and the potential for future entrepreneurial ventures. The young participants left inspired and motivated to make an impact in their communities and beyond.

As we continue to encourage and empower underrepresented groups with events that present a closer look into the business world, we look forward to creating more spaces where young individuals can learn from experts, build a network, and get the inspiration to start thinking about their future careers as entrepreneurs.

Career Options for Newcomer Youth

CultureLink Uncategorised, Youth News

For someone who wasn’t born in Canada or whose parents grew up in a different country, deciding what to do after school presents additional challenges: not really knowing about all the available options and having preconceived notions of what paths are ‘better’ than others, based on their experience abroad.

Newcomers benefit greatly from information in many areas, but for youth it is specially important to learn about all the ways they can continue their education and/or earn a living after high school.

With that in mind, last March Break, CultureLink’s Children and Youth Centre invited representatives from educational institutions, non traditional occupations and retail companies, to talk about career options.

On day 1, participants learned about the possibilities of creative professions such as events marketing, arts and design and videography. From college application requirements to the experience of turning a hobby into a full-time job, the speakers covered many aspects of studying and working in these industries.

On day 2, participants heard from organizations that provide training programs and apprenticeship career opportunities that facilitate employment opportunities in construction and other trades.

On day 3, representatives from retail stores such as Tim Hortons, Burger King and Canadian Tire interviewed dozens of youth ready and eager to find part-time jobs. At least one of them was invited to a second interview after the event and was hired!

Throughout the week, young newcomers received tons of information and help on their job-search and beyond. They used their time away from school wisely and are on their way to a brighter future.




A Note from the Teacher

CultureLink Uncategorised

On February 16, 2023, participants and volunteers from CultureLink’s Canada Connects program gathered together for an in-person group session. The program, a partnership with with Harbourfront Centre, was introduced in 2019 and kept going through virtual times.

This meeting gave us an opportunity to reflect on our shared experiences, the perseverance shown through difficult and extraordinary circumstances, and the wonderful results we have accomplished.

Anh is from Vietnam. She has been living in Toronto for almost 5 years and has participated in many CultureLink programs, including Canada Connects. She learned about us from a friend, and joined us during the pandemic. Following is her testimonial.

“First and foremost, I would like to thank CultureLink for offering many helpful programs to newcomers like me. I want to especially thank all the staff and mentors who helped me during the past two years.

I participated in many of their programs:

Canada Connects allowed me to join a volunteer group where I was able to exchange ideas and learn from other people’s knowledge and experiences.

Human Rights, Diversity & Inclusion taught me, through group discussions, how important it is to respect each other just the way we are.

Citizenship Education Circle prepared me to apply for my Canadian Citizenship. It was because of this workshop that I passed my test and I’m now waiting for the oath Ceremony to become a Canadian Citizen!

I also joined many workshops related to resumes, cover letters and interview skills. CultureLink’s mentors were always there to help and support me.

Thanks to CultureLink I can do what I love to do in my second home, Canada.

Teaching is my life’s passion. I have been a professor at George Brown College since October 2021. The first subject I taught was Career Preparation. I continue teaching this subject, where my students learn how to build their resume, cover letter, LinkedIn profile and interview skills.

Now I am also a professor at Centennial College. At the beginning I started with only one class. This semester I have almost 10 classes and more than 200 students.

Thank you is not enough. From the bottom of my heart, I appreciate everyone at CultureLink who has supported me. That is why I am here today, and also why I have told every newcomer I know about your programs.”