The sweet taste of success

Kristin Uncategorised

Mohamad arrived in Canada in 2015. He was 27 years old, knew some English and had lived in completely different cultures and countries all his life. He had worked in the food industry cooking and making sweets. He owned a pizza restaurant in Syria.

He lived in Egypt and Turkey before coming to Canada so got used to adapting to new lifestyles. However, the Canadian system was totally different. At the beginning, he faced some challenges like language, lack of friends and harsh weather which was difficult to cope with.

While surfing the net and asking some relatives to find out how he could start his professional life, he became aware of the Food Handler Program organized by Toronto Public Health. Then, on the graduation ceremony, he met with Hanaa Al Sadi who introduced the Hospitality Language Training Program conducted at CultureLink Settlement and Community Services. He joined the program in February 2018 and as a result his industry-specific language has improved remarkably. He learned substantially about the Canadian workplace culture, how to start a small business in the food industry and the resources available to assist newcomers to achieve their goals.

After he completed the program, he started two businesses in food catering and the production and sale of different types of Arabic sweets. He volunteered to provide Syrian isolated families with delicious Arabic sweets during CultureLink High Park trip in the summer.

Mohamad said: “I advise newcomers to keep trying and not to give up. Canada is a very nice place to live a decent life and to reach your goals. It is easy to start a small business as long as you know the rules and have the knowledge and safety certificates.”

Winter is here! Enjoy the season with CultureLink

Kristin Health and Recreation, Uncategorised

Newcomers Explore and Appreciate Toronto (NEAT) is a mentorship program developed to help newcomers gain hands-on experience in event planning and project management. Through this program, we offer FREE guided tours and outdoor activities throughout the year. In the winter, we call it Wintegration!

In the past many winters, two of our most popular activities have been trip to the Maple Syrup Festival and hiking/scavenger hunt at the Toronto Islands. We go out for hiking in the snow, play games, enjoy nature and have specific winter activities, such as skating, eating marshmallows by the fire and attending various winter fests. Depending on the snow, we are ready for tobogganing anytime. This year, we are also introducing indoor board game nights.

We are excited to continue offering activities this winter (weather permitting) with the help of our NEAT and Wintegation groups as well as many community partners and volunteers.

These activities are geared towards new immigrants and refugees to help them get acquainted with Canadian winter culture, through participating and engaging with others. However, depending on the event and spots available, everyone is welcome!

Join our mailing list by emailing your contact information (Name/Phone) and stating if you are a newcomer (landed immigrant or convention refugee) to We collect copy of immigration document/information for reporting purposes.

You can also become a member of our online group: to receive regular notifications.


We are looking for sponsors to provide monetary support of $2500 for 2 trips to the Niagara Falls, one in the winter/spring and one in the summer. The quoted price of one coach per trip is approx. $1250.


We welcome donations of any amount that will be used to provide Wintegration and other all year around events and activities that cost money, such as trip to the Toronto Islands. Donation can be made online at:

Please choose, either “NEATwalks” or “Wintegration” for your donations in the drop-down list under “Fund”.

For more information, please contact: Rubeen Chauhan at 416-588-6288 x 231 / /

Visit our webpage:

Women’s Empowerment Session

Kristin Integration and Settlement Services

On November 17, 2018, the Women’s Empowerment Session wrapped up and 25 women and 17 children came out to join in a celebration. Women shared testimonials about the importance of getting involved in the community and they all received certificates of involvement as participants and volunteers. Funded by the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, this program has also been boosted with the important support and contributions of the Toronto Soroptimist Club who joined in the celebration and share information about the Club and its mandate of women helping women for empowerment and the prevention of violence against women. Sumptuous food was prepared by the women and food and games and networking were enjoyed by everyone in attendance. The event was organized by Shelina Rangwala with support from Marina Sokolov, Yan Gu and Lisa Randall. The Women’s Group is currently working on personal story sharing with dramatic exploration with artist/facilitator Sharada Eswar which provides creative and healing sharing opportunities.


Become a Public Speaking Mentor

Rubina Afsar Find a Mentor News

Volunteer Mentors will help newcomer participants practice Public Speaking and relevant skills in a small group setting. Successful mentors must commit for the program duration and some extra hours as required by the program.

Mentors must be fluent in English with knowledge and life experience in Canada of five years or more. Mentors are matched with participants for extra support and guidance.

Mentors must have experience in public speaking, coaching, group facilitation and have the ability to engage participants of varying skills and language levels. Experience working with immigrants/ refugees would be an asset as group participants are mostly newcomers.

Exceptional communication and people skills are required. Additional skills that would be assets are: flexibility (in terms of program delivery), creativity, self-motivation and bringing new ideas/ activities to support learning of the newcomer participants.

Mentors would be expected to develop program material/offer short presentations to achieve the program objectives.

Mentors are required to attend mandatory orientation session.

Police clearance and reference check is required.

Mentors will receive certificate of appreciation at the end of the program.

Program Structure:

Currently, this program is designed to run bi-weekly for 7 consecutive weeks and once in a year!

Each session is 2.5 hours long which includes presentation, discussion on related topics and hands-on practice and homework assignments (if required).

The last session is generally about presenting final speeches (if the attendees decide to do so) followed by group photos, awarding certificates and a potluck party.

Please contact Rubeen for any questions or further details at 416-588-6288 x 231 |

Like us on Facebook: Newcomers-Speak-Up-for-Success


Newcomer Youth Soccer Game

Naadiya Sharmarke Youth News, Youth Zone

During September and October, CultureLink’s Children & Youth Centre hosted multiple soccer games for newcomer youth between 14 to 25 years of age. 

The games were a huge success and brought many benefits for participants, for example:

  • Being part of a team; working with collaboration and cooperation.
  • Developing leadership skills 
  • Practicing English 

Every two weeks, the team gathered at the Youth Centre to talk about leadership and the life-skills they developed.

These matches became a space for cultural exchange and a nest for new friendships, as most of the participants were newly immigrated youth from more than 15 different nationalities


“I heard about CultureLink’s Children & Youth Centre from a friend who recommended me to participate in their activities. Since September I’ve been participating in multiple activities such as soccer, entrepreneurship workshops, Global Roots, canoeing, among others. These activities have been helping me to meet new people, and gain a better understanding of the Canadian life.  I really enjoy playing the soccer game with my friends”-   Kevin (Newcomer from Colombia).

Parenting Workshops for Adult ESL class

Aqeela Saddiqui SWIS News

Our SWIS workers arranged very interesting parenting workshops for the Adult ESL class on Oct 15, 16 and 22nd at Lord Dufferin Public School in partnership with Toronto Public Health.

The groups discussed topics such as Child behaviour, Nutrition/Healthy Eating and Heart Health.


The attendees received a couple of important tips from the Canada Food Guide, including:

1.How to eat healthy within a budget

2.How to manage their children’s behaviour

3. How to support their children if they exhibit difficult behaviour

The learning experience took form in different formats, making the workshops fun and very educational at the same time! A poster of the amount of sugar found in common beverages (such as coke, juice, etc.) motivated the students to watch out for their health every day, the poster is now found in their classroom as a gentle reminder.

Celebration of Diwali at Rose Ave PS

Aqeela Saddiqui SWIS News

Diwali festival was celebrated on October 25 at Rose Ave PS.

SWIS (Settlement Workers in Schools) show that their work is not limited to the four office walls. The staff along with parents and community members were responsible for organizing the event, which was a success!

To get a little background : the Festival of Lights (Diwali) is celebrated to honour Ramachandra, the seventh avatar (incarnation of the god Vishnu). It is believed that on this day Rama returned to his people after 14 years of exile during which he fought and won a battle against the demons and the demon king, Ravana.  It is also a harvest festival.

Traditional clothing, food, and music were present in the celebration, which was very enjoyable for all participants. 

Header Gratitude and New Beginnings

Gratitude and New Beginnings

Ximena Marky Uncategorised

On October 24th, we held our Annual General Meeting and celebrated the closing of one year and the opening of another. It was a lovely fall evening, perfect for our program in the theme of Gratitude and New Beginnings.

The evening program reflected the diversity in our community. Musical performances filled the hall with sounds from around the globe when community members of different generations sang to the delight of the audience. The Nai Children’s Choir performed in English, French, and Arabic. The choir also performed with the Spanish-speaking senior group in Spanish, and the Polish senior group sang in Polish. A dance performance brought to the audience a taste of the rich cultures of Central and South America, with program participants from different origins performing local and traditional dances as the audience cheered.

Participants and partners’ talks displayed the variety of different programs at CultureLink and reflected the shared elements across all of them. We heard of the contribution of the LSP program to individual lives as well as to the building of communities. We learned how the Youth Leadership Program, running in partnership with UNHCR Canada, empowers young leaders and equips them to become advocates for their communities. We were interested to hear from Mercer Canada and the origins of their interest in working with CultureLink to break barriers for newcomers in our community, and especially excited to receive their donation of $10,000.

The keynote speaker, J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth, Indigenous Outreach and Learning Coordinator at the ROM, brought another perspective on gratitude and new beginnings. Talking about her personal journey as well as the journey to reconciliation in Canada, J’net highlighted the message that we all find ourselves newcomers at one point in our life or another. Each of us is from somewhere, has a particular history and origin, and we take these with us wherever we go. We would all like to be welcomed as who we are wherever we go and to be seen and understood even when we are the newcomer. J’net encouraged us to look on the bright side of new beginnings, of the potential for growth and positive change. We were extremely grateful to have her with us and to listen to her inspiring words.

As always, the team at CultureLink came together to make this evening a success. Thanks to all who took part in this major effort.



Photo Booth services for the event were provided by Logo Imagica
Cyclists in suburbs

Bike Host Markham & Mississauga Cycles wrap first seasons

Samuel Perry Health and Recreation News

CultureLink’s Bike Host Markham and Mississauga Cycles programs wrapped successful summers full of building, fixing and riding bikes in the 905!

Bike Host Markham

CultureLink’s Bike Host had the opportunity this year to partner with York Region’s first community bicycle hub: Markham Cycles. This hub aims to build cycling culture in Markham and our Bike Host’s model complements and promotes that mission.

Bike Host Markham participants pledge to ride bikes

In July, we recruited and trained six mentors, who love to cycle in Markham* (and beyond). Then we matched them with 7 newcomers to Canada, all of whom borrowed a bike, a helmet and a lock from us. Together, they set out to gain confidence on a bicycle and build friendships and community: “Cycling is a wonderful way to build a sense of belonging to and interest in a new community” (Sonya De Vellis, mentor).

Through this partnership with Markham Cycles, we were able to deliver a wide range of programming, from Learn to Ride for kids and adults, to a Student Ambassador program with students from Milliken Mills High School, as well as a number of community rides, including a group ride and picnic to Toogood Pond with over 50 participants! Through these programs, the bicycle became a vehicle for belonging: “Along with the convenience-exercise-pleasure of biking, another very important outcome [of Bike Host Markham] was to come in touch with so many awesome people” (Azfar Adib, mentee).

Two Bike Host mentees learned to ride a bicycle this summer, and have unlocked the freedom that it brings them. In addition to the joy of cycling, participants gained a broadened perspective of sharing the road, and other valuable knowledge, like how to bring a bike on the bus. Bike Host enriches the lives of both mentors and mentees, opening every one to a different point of view, beyond their mode of transportation. Thank you to Markham Cycles, we look forward to seeing the community continue to grow and flourish.

*Download Markham’s Cycling Map

Mississauga Cycles

Mississauga Cycles is a new project in Mississauga made possible by a partnership between CultureLink Settlement and Community Services (CultureLink) and Peel Multicultural Council (PMC). Mississauga Cycles builds on the success of other bike hubs established by CultureLink in the GTA to connect newcomers with their new community, by bike! This latest partnership is funded by the Region of Peel as part of a network of bike hubs being established throughout Peel Region.

The program has two main components:

  1. Mississauga Cycles participantsA cycling mentorship program for newcomers and weekly drop-in bike clinics, held at PMC. In the first year of this mentorship program, which runs from June-October, 30 newcomer participants were matched with 16 volunteer mentors who commute regularly by bike. Together, the mentors and newcomer participants explore Mississauga by bike and organize and participate in a number of group activities. Through this program, with the support from mentors, newcomer participants improved their communication skills, bike riding skills, knowledge of bike routes as well as general bike maintenance.
  2. Weekly drop-in sessions, which run from July onwards as a DIY Bike Hub. Based at PMC, this space is open to any program participants and youth who want to learn new bike skills, maintenance and repair in a collaborative and constructive setting. Activities include road safety and cycling skills workshops, mechanics workshops and demonstrations, donated bike repairs and participant bike tune-ups. In all aspects of Mississauga Cycles, cycling is used as a tool to foster greater education, engagement and activity in our city, and our program strives to support even more newcomers and youth in the years to come.