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

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


Interview Squad Participants

Interview Squad makes another dream job a reality

Abdi Find a Mentor News

Ngoc Nga came to Canada full of hopes and dreams. As soon as she arrived in Toronto, she started looking for the tools that would help make her dreams come true – especially the dream of working in her field. She knew that being bilingual and having nine years of work experience was not enough. Although she was determined to create her own roadmap for success, it was clear that she couldn’t do it alone.

Interview Squad to the rescue

A colleague from school told her about the Interview Squad Program at CultureLink. Without much consideration, she joined the next available group. As part of the training sessions, all participants review their resumes and Linkedin profiles with the guidance of HR mentors. For Nga, this meant a jumpstart in her job search. Soon, a recruiter invited her to her first Canadian job interview. The team of Rescue Heroes, from the Interview Squad, stood by her side. She got enough practice to improve her interviewing skills and she was ready. As a result, not only did she land her first job in Canada, but she found her dream job as a Supply Chain Analyst. All of her efforts and determination paid off. With the support of the Interview Squad mentors, she achieved her first career goal.

To be continued…

When Nga got the job, she sent the following email to CultureLink:
“I would like to share with you a piece of very good news: I got the job of Supply Chain Analyst. This makes me so happy and I would like to thank you very much for organizing the Interview Squad Program. I learned many things with all the people you invited for the workshop, training and interview practices.”
Interview Squad participants
Nga is now well on her way on the road to success, but that’s not the end of the story. She doesn’t need to work on her interviewing skills anymore, but our team assigned her a mentor who will help ease her integration to the Canadian workplace culture.
And because we believe in giving back and paying it forward, we hope that Nga will come back to CultureLink as a mentor after settling in her new job.
Post Header CultureLink Youth Leadership Program

The Youth Leadership Program (YLP)

Abdi Youth News, Youth Zone

The Youth Leadership Program (YLP) is an educational and leadership initiative propelled by the UN Refugee Agency – Canada (UNHCR). The project is to be implemented in collaboration with CultureLink’s Community Services Department. This project was successfully launched on June 20, 2019.

The purpose of this initiative is to create an educational opportunity to engage young people ages 18 to 24 in advocacy and leadership work, raising awareness about refugees’ issues in the broader community, in particular, in communities that are not directly exposed to life experiences suffered by people displaced by violence, conflict and persecution.

Young people will become leaders on refugees’ matters, increasing community awareness and supports towards the local integration of refugees, their capacity to heal, recover and build a better future in their host countries.

Newcomer families field trip to Ontario Place

Abdi Find a Mentor News, Health and Recreation News, Settlement in the Community News

The heat and humidity outside maybe skyrocketing, but that did not deter the LSP clients from coming out for a field trip to Ontario Place on Canada Day.  Prior to that, they had already gathered in the cool basement of the Lillian H. Smith Library for an orientation session on the history, design and facilities of Ontario Place.
On the day itself, the clients were shown how to get to the venue by TTC, given a map of the two islands and taught how to navigate to the numerous attractions starting from Trillium Park, Echo Beach and the marina on the East Island. More importantly, the clients were delighted to have the opportunity to experience a free IMAX double bill screening at the Cinesphere. They particularly enjoyed the North Of Superior documentary, which was the first official IMAX film commissioned for the then new Cinephere in 1971.
The weather turned out to be quite forgiving and cool towards the second half of the trip when the clients saunter around the West Island visiting attractions such as the ‘sunken ships’, the pods and the Lookout Point.
It was quite a long but constructive day – all the clients reside in downtown but have never been to this attraction south of the CNE. They were all very grateful for the experience and forward to the next orientation session/ field trip to some less well-known historical attractions in Toronto.


Newcomer Youth Nori’s experience at Rouge Urban National Park

Abdi Health and Recreation News, SWIS News

On June 28th, 2019, Parkbus and Parks Canada graciously offered a free guided bus tour to Rouge Urban National Park to the newcomer students and families from the Bickford Centre. What sets this trip apart from the regular Park Bus shuttle is that it not only included a Hiking Essentials workshop but also a guided hike along the Mast Trail’s beautiful ridge, which ended at the Little Rouge Creek where the participants had their lunch break picnic. The day was perfect and all 33 newcomers thoroughly enjoyed the trip, as for most of them this was their first visit to a Canadian National Park.
” This trip would not have been possible without the generous support from Park Bus and Parks Canada.I speak on behalf of the whole class when I say that it was really enjoyable. I have already hiked through many paths in and around the GTA, but the Rouge Valley was my first time as was the case for most of our classmates.

It would have been too wide to hike by ourselves, fortunately for us, we were provided with 6 friendly volunteer guides to orient us and make the experience all the more satisfying. They were very helpful in showing us around in the park. During guided walks, we saw a variety of landscapes, including forests, farmlands and wooden areas. They were natural, cultural and agricultural areas to explore. We learned something new from century old trees and peaceful meadows.

I couldn’t believe it was free event. We took a shuttle bus that took us there. I sat on the back part of the bus seats, that’s why I felt like a riding jet rollercoaster. I’d like to go there again in the near future. On behalf of all my classmates and I of the Level 8 Bickford Class, we wish to express our sincere gratitude to you, Barbara, as the Program Worker; your manager at Culturelink, Abdi; as well as Stanley for presenting us with this wonderful opportunity and for arranging transportation through the Parkbus Program. We very much enjoyed it and hope many others will too”.


Warm Regards, Nori Funabashi (for the Level 8 Bickford Class). July 9, 2019.


Spring brings Newcomers together at Mimico Centennial Library

TanyaS Settlement in the Community News

The neighbourhood public library is a critical resource for newcomers to Canada. The Library Settlement Partnership (LSP) program established in 2008, brought CultureLink settlement workers to work in the libraries assisting newcomer clients regardless of their immigration status and engaging them in all aspects of Canadian life.
Variety of information sessions based on the needs of the newcomer community were organized by LSP program worker Claudia Montoya at the Mimico Centennial Library in April-May 2019; more than 400 newcomers have been served.
Citizenship Test Preparation included five training sessions to study for the Citizenship test and learn about the rights and responsibilities of the Canadian citizenship. Participants took the practice test at the last session and met with presided Citizenship Judge Rodney Simmons, who answered their questions.
New immigrants have been learning and enhancing their parenting skills at the four-week Parenting program with a wide variety of topics covered.
For the Mother’s Day Celebration, LSP Mimico prepared a series of surprises for mothers and their families who came to celebrate this special day together: Clothing swap, Butterflies making, Family communication skills training, Yoga Laugh, Food and Presents.

The workshop Together We Can Change the World led by the guest speaker Alvaro Daza, inspired newcomers by the idea of starting a new business in Canada using opportunity of connection and sharing experiences with other new entrepreneurs from all over the world, overcoming stereotypes and proving that all of us are stronger together.

All these programs not only provide the participants with an excellent opportunity to learn new skills, network and exchange their experiences, but also meet LSP’s goal to help newcomers successfully settle in Toronto over the long term.