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


Youth In Arts’s partnership with the University of Toronto Hart House Literacy

Naadiya Sharmarke Uncategorised, Youth News, Youth Zone

Congratulations on your well-deserved success Awais!

Youth In Arts Program established an amazing partnership with the University of Toronto Hart House Literacy and Library Committee to run a book contest. Newcomer youth had the opportunity to read two books within three weeks to improve their English skills and for a chance to win gift cards. The youth attended three drop in sessions where they also discussed different topics, themes and aspects of the stories that resonated with them. The winner of the August Book contest is: Awais Aziz who read Creative Quest by Questlove and The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

New Partnership with Harbourfront Centre

Rubina Afsar Settlement in the Community News

In our mission to facilitate the active participation and integration of newcomers, we are committed to providing innovative programs that meet the changing needs of our clients. With that in mind, and looking at the popularity of our Artegration program (connecting newcomers with Arts and Cultural Organizations), we reached out to Saskia Rinkoff, from Harbourfront Centre, and discussed the possibility of a new partnership.

Harbourfront Centre is a cultural organization that provides internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation. They are located in the heart of Toronto’s downtown waterfront. Saskia is their Volunteer Manager. Her relationship with CultureLink started some years ago as a volunteer in our Career Mentorship Program. Then we worked together, when she was at Luminato (also an Artegration partner). She has always been very supportive of our efforts. Over the years, she introduced us to several organizations that became our partners.

Pilot Project

Last June, to test the waters, we launched a pilot project of this new partnership. Early in the month, we began recruiting volunteer mentors for the program. By the end of the month, we were able to host an Orientation and Match Meeting session. Nine newcomer participants attended and met with two new mentors.

The program allows newcomers to work as volunteers in different activities hosted by the Harbourfront Centre. Under the supervision of a mentor, they gain some Canadian volunteer work experience. And the results are clear: being part of the program adds value to the resume of all participants, which helps their job search. In fact, two of them have already found jobs. And those who haven’t started working yet are speaking positively about their experience in the program and have shown appreciation for it. “I’m so happy that I chose to volunteer in Harbourfront Centre and I completed 60 hours. It has been the best experience in this summer. Thank you so much, Hashem” – Anu Khatan.

Moving forward

We are happy to say that, because the project was a great success, the partnership with Harbourfront Centre has been given green light to continue. While every partner of Artegration brings a special opportunity to our clients, we are excited to be able to offer newcomers volunteer opportunities all year long with Harbourfront Centre’s unique programs.


Afghan women ride bikes at Markham Cycles

Article: Markham Cycles and Bike Host

Samuel Perry Health and Recreation News

An article about Markham Cycles was featured recently on York Region’s website. Markham Cycles is home to CultureLink’s Bike Host program, which matches newcomers with cycling mentors to keep them cycling in Canada. To get involved with Bike Host, email Grace McNee at

Bicycle hub rolls into Milliken Mills area of Markham

Markham Cycles to host community rides, bike repair workshops, mentorship, loan program, e-bike tryouts

Jul 04, 2019, by Simone Joseph, Markham Economist & Sun

The women in Najia Zewari‘s health and wellness group all had the same dream — they wanted to ride bicycles.

“Many Afghan women want to bike, but they are scared if someone sees. They dream to bike, it’s like they dream to fly,” Zewari said.

She spoke at the launch of the new bicycle hub called Markham Cycles on July 3 at Milliken Mills Community Centre and Library. A bicycle hub is defined as a welcoming space that includes cycling programs and other assistance to help spark cycling adoption (more people bicycle riding).

The women in Zewari’s health and wellness group for Afghan women (and some Iranian women, too) had asked her (their leader) to help them gain bicycle riding experience. They approached Toronto’s Evergreen Brick Works about a cycling program there and they also got help from Toronto’s Gateway Bike Hub where they learned about repairs.

“They learned — all the newcomers. They felt empowered. They felt they could relate to the community,” Zewari said. These women had experienced war and bomb blasts, Zewari said. Bicycle riding relaxes them. “You need a peaceful mind.”

Zewari learned first-hand that bicycle riding also has other benefits. “Biking impacts health, depression, stress, isolation.”

Read more

Sharing Youth Newcomer Stories through Artistic Exploration

Aqeela Saddiqui NOW News, SWIS News

Newcomer youth starting high school in Canada are experience a new language, new rules, a new society and a new culture. Newcomer youth often experience a lot of stress and do not always have the forum to share their concerns.

This is where peer leaders for the NOW Program make such a difference and bring their personal experiences to the activities of Newcomer Orientation Week (NOW). Every August, the SWIS Program trains 32 peer leaders and prepares them to lead the NOW Program at one of our four NOW school locations.

August 19th, SWIS had two artistic leader/facilitators in Toronto come share their artistic skills and support the youth in surfacing their own personal stories of immigration. One workshops was with Marjorie Chan, playwright, director, actress and artistic director of Theatre Passe Muraille (and formerly of Cahoots Theatre), who led a theatre workshop that examined newcomer youth concerns and worries that newcomer youth experience about being newcomers.

The second workshop was led by Sharada Eswar. Sharada is a playwright, singer, community activator, puppeteer and storyteller who is currently running a three-year program out of the Art Gallery of Mississauga called “Crossing Borders”. This project, funded by the Trillium Foundation provided a workshop in comic book making that focused on newcomer youth stories. Artists Sheniz Janmohamed and Khaula Mazhar joined Sharada.

Late August, NOW peer leaders will be supporting newly arrived youth in getting settled and involved in their new school in Canada. These experiences allowed the peer leaders to revisit their own settlement stories. This experience will help them share their stories for those very recently arrived youth. This sharing helps create a safe and welcoming school environment for newcomer youth to flourish and bring their many talents and skills to share with their new schools and communities.

Post Header Duke of Edinburgh Award

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award

Ximena Marky Youth News

The Community Services Department is proud to announce that CultureLink’s Children and Youth Centre has become a Unit Award for the Duke of Edinburgh’s International AwardTHE WORLD’S LEADING YOUTH ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FOR CANADIAN YOUTH!

The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a global non-formal education framework which challenges young people to discover their potential and find their purpose, passion and place in the world. Through this partnership, we will give every young Canadian aged 14 to 24 a supportive self-development tool that deepens awareness, builds confidence, broadens skills and impels them into experiences that further their development as active, responsible citizens.

For more information or to register please contact:
Jonathan Rojas at 416-766-6288 x238 or email him at

The Duke Edinburgh’s International Award is an internationally recognized program for young people, building their skills to equip them for life and work. By creating opportunities for young people to develop skills, get physically active, give service and experience adventure, the Award can play a critical role in their development. The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award is a global framework that allows young people to determine what they are passionate about, regardless of their background, culture or access to resources.