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


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Newcomer Youth at Aurora Winter Festival

Naadiya Sharmarke Youth News, Youth Zone

Youth In Arts is an after school program that offers art-related and community connections workshops. Youth in Action is a similar program with recreational and healthy-living activities. Both programs are aimed at newcomer and refugee youth. Through different approaches to social and cross-cultural integration, their goal is to facilitate the settlement and community engagement of their participants.

Isolation is a common outcome of immigration, and lots of newcomers face feelings of loneliness. This is especially true in the winter, as for most new Canadians it will come as a drastic change in weather and environment.  Furthermore, youth are more inclined to remain closed off from their peers as the schools close for the winter break.

In order to reduce the social isolation and further the establishment of strong peer and community relationships, the Youth in Arts and the Youth in Action program joint forces. Together, they took a group of Newcomer Youth to the Aurora Winter Festival at Ontario Place on Dec. 18th 2019.

The trip gave participants a chance to see and learn about the Canadian Winter Experience in Toronto. During the visit, the group had the opportunity to experience different holiday celebrations happening at throughout festival. They tried ice skating for the first time, drank hot chocolate and enjoyed the holiday songs that were being performed by various DJs and Bands.

“I had so much fun meeting new people and making friends, despite it being cold. It was fun!” – Diana Shishay, Youth in Arts Participant

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English Conversation Circle for Seniors

Ximena Marky Youth News

The Conversation Circles for Seniors’ Project (CCFS) is a program made for seniors, led and designed also by seniors.

Our goal is to empower vulnerable immigrant seniors. With this program, we aim to enhance this group’s inclusion and participation in the community. Because by helping them better integrate into society, we also help them improve their safety and well-being.

According to Statistics Canada, the proportion of seniors population has increased over the past 40 years. Studies show that these individuals are more likely to develop chronic health conditions. They are also more vulnerable to abuse than the rest of the population. Unfortunately, they are unlikely to report either one, because of social isolation, language barriers and other reasons.

Most immigrant seniors arrived in Canada many years ago. They worked to support their families without speaking the language and never having an opportunity to learn it properly. The English part of our sessions is meant to teach and improve their language skills. Their ability to communicate in an official language is key to develop their self-confidence and leadership skills. Furthermore, it makes it easier for them to socialize and access more resources.

The Conversation Circle provides a safe and open space for discussion on everyday topics and issues that affect them. Every session is an opportunity to create awareness of the different community resources that are available for them.

Through these English Conversation Circles, we provide experiential learning activities that target day-to-day challenges and give participants the tools to search for and receive more services.

Youth Construction Networking Event – BOLT Speak Out

Naadiya Sharmarke Youth News, Youth Zone

On October 8th, 2019 the SYS Program (Skills for Youth Success) collaborated with Tridel & the BOLT Foundation to help youth exploring construction careers in the fields of Health & Safety, Carpentry, Development, & Project Management. BOLT Foundation informed our young people about on scholarships, and opportunities for those who wish to pursue a post-secondary program in construction


 “I am thankful that I attended this event because I am very interested in the construction field and I feel that Tridel can help me decide in which area I would like to work in” (- Jonathan, SANKOFA participant)

Thank you to both Youth In Action and SANKOFA for making this event successful. Also a special thanks to our beloved Asal Afshar for collaborating with us and bringing this amazing opportunity to our young people. We greatly miss you and we are grateful that you have not forgotten us.

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Ride on!

Ximena Marky Health and Recreation News

The Bike to School Project enables more children and youth to discover the personal and community benefits of cycling for transportation. Since 2013, we have reached tens of thousands of students with cycling education programs, and helped create lasting change at individual schools and beyond. 2019 was our most impactful year yet!

In March we wrapped up a large-scale program funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Check out our accomplishments in Ride On! Report on the Bike to School Project, April 2016-March 2019. Many thanks to our collaborators Cycle Toronto and the Toronto Cycling Think and Do Tank!

Throughout the spring, we delivered more programs in 30 schools, in partnership with the Toronto District School Board. In June, we launched Bikes 4 Kids, a charitable initiative. With support from our founding donors and partners, Malcolm Mackillop and Brandin O’Connor of Shields O’Donnell Mackillop LLP, we assembled 60 NEW bicycles. Then we gave them away to the entire grade 5 class at a school in northwest Toronto.

Meanwhile, our Families and Educators for Safe Cycling project, funded by the Metcalf Foundation, engages students and families in campaigns for safer, more complete streets. As a result, the new City of Toronto Bike Plan includes several new routes that will serve children and youth.

New pilot project

As the new school year got underway, we launched a new pilot project funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation. Our focus is students with behavioural, communicational, intellectual, and/or physical exceptionalities. We have installed a fleet of 15 bicycles at one specialized school, thanks to our partner the South Riverdale Community Health Centre. So far 58 students have taken part in Riding Skills and Learn to Ride classes. Six students learned (or re-learned) how to ride, and were thrilled with their accomplishments! Next, 17 students spent five weeks learning bicycle ABC Safety Check routines. We also started a lunch-time Bicycle Club, where more students are getting the chance to learn to ride and improve their cycling skills.

With so many accomplishments behind us, we look forward to what 2020 brings!

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Giving Tuesday

Ximena Marky Uncategorised

Welcome to our very first #GivingTuesday campaign!

We are excited to join this movement for the first time. CultureLink has been helping newcomers start their new life in Canada for over three decades, thanks to the continuous support of our funders, partners and volunteers. Our staff is the heart of our organization and their genuine concern for the people they serve is inspiring. For them to be able to reach more clients with current and new programs, we need you!

There are many ways to show your support to CultureLink:

  1. Follow us on Social Media and share our posts, tell your friends to #SupportCultureLink
  2. Tell Canada Helps how you plan to celebrate #GivingTuesday and your favourite charity (CultureLink!) can win $5000!
  3. Donate on December 3rd to our #GivingTuesday campaign

GivingTuesday Countdown

Give a family the chance of a better future. Give hope to a stranger who left everything behind. Give us a hand in welcoming newcomers to Canada.