Settlement Agency Award

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Ximena Marky Events, News

Settlement Agency Award


Canadian Immigrant magazine presents the 11th annual RBC Top 25 Canadian Immigrant Awards.

We are thrilled to announce that we are finalists for their 2nd annual Settlement Agency Award! This award celebrates the contributions, dedication and hard work that agencies undertake each year to help Canadian immigrants settle into the country and succeed.

If you would like to help us acknowledge the commitment, efforts and enthusiasm of our talented staff, managers, board of directors, volunteers, partners and sponsors, VOTE for us before May 16th!

The winner will be announced online in July 2019 and be featured in the July print edition of Canadian Immigrant magazine.

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 Uncategorised

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

TBaker 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


CIBC Recruiting Mentoring Event

Newcomers on the Road to Success

Ximena Marky Events, Find a Mentor News

To those who are brave enough (or have no choice but) to leave the life they know and start again in another country, the excitement of being a newcomer can turn into fear and stress in a matter of days. The pressure to settle down can be daunting, and one doesn’t know where to begin.

For most newcomers, the first step is to find a job. And it shouldn’t be that hard, almost everyone comes with working experience after all. They begin the process hopeful and soon find that their expectations were far from reality. The goal now seems more distant and hope turns into distress. There’s nothing left to do but to keep trying. If only they could get some help!

Whoever said there are no shortcuts on the road to success never came to CultureLink. We do a lot for newcomers, from counselling to recreational activities. But one thing we are really good at is matching our clients with mentors (read about our Mentorship programs).

Do you wish you could have your resume reviewed by a real person and skip the recruitment agency? We can make that happen. We call this a Mentoring event. It gives newcomers the opportunity to meet representatives from Canadian companies, be interview by them and get feedback to improve. They also receive guidance on how to find jobs in the industry.

CIBC Recruiting/Mentoring Event for Newcomers – May 2019

The most recent event was hosted at our main office, in partnership with CIBC, and organized by our very own Rakesh Bhardwaj. He received over a hundred applications from eager newcomers and read each resume to select the best candidates. He invited a team of 12 leaders from CIBC, which included two of his former clients. Keval and Neelesh are a testament to the success of this partnership. Not long ago, they were sitting in that same room as members of the audience. Last week they proudly wore their CIBC name badges and shared their inspiring stories. A few months from now, it could be someone from that group telling future newcomers how a Recruiting/Mentoring event helped them get a job and start their new Canadian life.

Mentoring Event for Newcomers


“The experience is simply outstanding. The entire event was extremely well coordinated. There couldn’t have been a better platform for newcomers to feel so comfortable and welcoming. Additionally, the opportunity to meet and network with the recruiters and the hiring managers of a reputed company such as CIBC is the icing on the cake.”

“The experience at the event was fantastic. It was lovely to see that the CIBC team is extremely involved with the CultureLink team. I was interviewed and got very constructive feedback.”

Seniors Empowering Seniors (SES)

Glen Uncategorised

CultureLink’s Community Services Department is proud to present the Seniors Empowering Seniors program (SES) funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Seniors Empowering Seniors (SES) is a Community-based project inspired and led by seniors, created for racialized, low-income newcomer and immigrant seniors, living marginalized and in poverty in the South-Parkdale and West-End of Toronto. This project will provide an opportunity for senior mentors (volunteers) to inspire and lead seniors to increase their overall well-being, social connections, independence, safety, inclusion, and civic engagement; this will be done by:

  • Enhancing leadership skills, mentoring, volunteerism, community participation, and social inclusion;
  • Increasing awareness of seniors rights, government services, programs and supports for seniors;
  • Expanding awareness of elder abuse, including financial abuse, and Online safety within their communities;
  • Enhancing problem-solving abilities and communication skills to overcome barriers such as accessing resources in their community;
  • Reduction of social isolation, and establishment of strong peer relationships and community connections with families and friends using the Internet and social media.

The project is based on leadership, volunteerism and community engagement, and on the sharing of experiences, skills and wisdom of a multicultural group of volunteer seniors with peer seniors that are marginalized, afraid and isolated and who do not have peer encouragement to access to community resources,  establish community and peer connections, and to be actively involved in their communities.

Claudia Rivera

Artegration Makes Impact

Glen Syrian-related News, Uncategorised, Youth News

Artegration has grown sporadically over the last year and has planted its roots in many different areas throughout Toronto. The program continues to offer arts, homework help, leadership and recreational sessions in many different areas and successfully serving newcomer Syrian children between the ages of 6-12. In collaboration with the Nai Children’s Choir, the Artegration program offers programming at COSTI’s Immigration home on Bathurst and College on Mondays, homework help at Victoria Village Library on Tuesdays, and have begun Homework Club at the Children and Youth Centre on Wednesdays.

The Artegration program will continue to serve more newcomer Syrian children with emerging needs at the Children and Youth Centre on Wednesdays from 4pm to 6pm, by offering specialized tutors, teachings and mentors for homework help.

Artegration Homework Club

In addition, the Artegration program will be working with the Community Connections Mentorship Program, and hold a full-day Eid celebration event for newcomer Syrian families. This event will be a cultural celebration of the completion of fasting for the holy month of Ramadan. Please join us on Saturday, June 22nd, 2019, from 10am to 4pm for refreshments, activities, raffle games, and more at High Park Spot #15. For registration or questions, please contact Nour at or

Women’s Empowerment Program

Glen Uncategorised

March 2019 brought the Women’s Empowerment Program to a close. As a project, these activities brought together women living in the St. Jamestown Community to provide social and mutual support through a community-building and empowering approach. There were numerous educational sessions that included parenting, legal, anti-oppression, violence against women, women’s rights, health, wellness, yoga, volunteering, financial literacy and more and many were organized in partnership with local agencies. At the end of March, we organized a wonderful community celebration that included a delicious South Asian lunch, henna hand painting, games, socializing and it was all kicked off with an exciting chance to participate in Bollywood dancing. CultureLink will be sustaining some activities through the ongoing services of Settlement Workers in Schools as we are located in numerous schools in the St. Jamestown area. We graciously thank the Ministry of Children’s and Community Services for program support.

Sankofa Mural Painting

Glen Uncategorised, Youth News

The idea for the mural painting germinated from one of the Sankofa youth saying, ‘These walls are so boring?’ So, we painted one!

The youth along with an artist facilitator, Gillian Mapp, embarked on the journey of crossing the bridge from reflecting on themes of self and community to presenting them in visual shapes. In 10 Sankofa Program Sessions, there was a ‘coming together’ to make decisions; themes to select out of the brainstorming list, drawings to choose from a stack of individual representation of themes, ‘what will go where’ questions to resolve hunched over a draft and colours to choose etc.

One thing that was not decided was who would paint what on the wall. We did it together. I do not know the number of hands holding brushes that have painted on the wall. Some youth were there throughout, like Fatomata, who was our sun painter. Some new ones joined Sankofa with the eagerness to learn how to paint, like Nagalaxmi and Monica and were with us till the end. Youth from Adam Refugee House came for a visit and stayed to paint. There was always a spot on the wall waiting to be filled in and you could carry on where the previous brush had stopped its strokes.

Gillian had replied to a youth’s anxiety of messing up by saying ‘you do not make mistakes in painting. I think there are only beautiful accidents. And if it is not what you want, you can paint over.’ We did that too. Sometimes, drops of blue paint dripped on the red part while painting, we dabbed it with tissue and sponge. Sometimes, there were patches in a colour and someone else evened it out by applying the second coat. Sometimes we sat, stood on a ladder or hunched down to paint.


In case you are wondering what the mural means; the rose is for love, the crown on an African girl for empowerment, Earth for everyone sharing a planet, the sun for positive energy and the drip, well that is just there because it is cool!

In the beginning, one of the youth had said I can’t paint a mural painting. And she was one of those that did.

Saher Shaikh
Sankofa Program