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COVID-19 Community Resources

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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are following the advice of public health agencies and monitoring the situation closely to adjust our programs and services accordingly.

Our Main Office, Youth and Children Centre, Bike Hub and Parkdale Community Information Centre are closed and all group programs have been cancelled until further notice. However, our settlement and employment workers continue to offer support to clients via phone and email.

Furthermore, to provide our clients with a list of resources, we have gathered some of the information made available to the public. This list is by no means complete, nor is it necessarily an endorsement. New and emerging resources are surfacing daily and we will be updating this list regularly as more information becomes available.

Public Resources

From the Government of Canada

From the Province of Ontario

If you are concerned that you may have been exposed to or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19, please start by visiting the Ministry of Health website and taking their self-assessment. Please do not visit a COVID-19 assessment centre unless you have symptoms. Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency. Contact your primary care provider or Telehealth Ontario at 1-866-797-0000 if you’re experiencing symptoms of the 2019 novel coronavirus.

From the City of Toronto

Speak to a Staff Member

If you or someone you know needs help or information, please call our main office (416-588-6288) and, when prompted, dial one of the following extension numbers to leave a message. Make sure you state your name, number and reason for calling. A member of our teams will follow up with you as soon as possible.

  • General requests/information — Extension 200
  • Settlement Workers in Schools — Extension 218
  • Settlement in the Community/Help with Immigration — Extension 221
  • Mental Health — Extension 212
  • Find a job — Extension 215 or 209
  • Cybersecurity Program — Extension 240
  • Mentorship — Extension 210
  • Youth and Senior Services — 416 766 6288 extension 200
  • Nai Choir — 647-767-7598
  • Bike Programs — Extension 229

You can also contact us via email at reception@culturelink.ca.

Post Banner CultureLink Important Message

Important Message

Aqeela Saddiqui News

Notice to our Community and Stakeholders, March 16, 2020

Dear CultureLink Community and Stakeholders,

Due to the growing concerns surrounding COVID-19, we have cancelled group gatherings for all of our programs as of March 17th until further notice. We are closing our physical offices while continuing telephone and virtual supports to our many clients, many of whom are isolated. If you require support, please contact us via email at reception@culturelink.ca. A member of our settlement team will follow up with you as soon as possible.

We will be monitoring the updates from Canada’s Public Health Agency and sharing news with our staff team as needed. At CultureLink, we are doing our utmost to calmly address the current health concerns with diligence and information sharing as our guide. We appreciate everyone’s concern.

Yours truly,

Ibrahim Absiye,
Executive Director


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 NEATwalks@culturelink.ca. We collect copy of immigration document/information for reporting purposes.

You can also become a member of our online group: www.meetup.com/NEATwalks 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: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/dn/6142

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 / rchauhan@culturelink.ca / NEATwalks@culturelink.ca

Visit our webpage: www.culturelink.ca/NEATwalks

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 | rchauhan@culturelink.ca

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


CultureLink Post Banner A Friendship Circle

A Circle of Friendship

CultureLink Find a Mentor News

Some of our Community Connections Mentorship Program workers host the Citizenship Education Circle at different Toronto Public Library branches. This is a 10-week program where participants from around the world get together to learn about Canada, practice for the citizenship test, socialize and break the isolation of the winter months. Some joke that everyone is so bundled up, to battle the cold, that you do not recognize your neighbours until spring!

Each week, some participants join the group after work, others come from school or home. Some have already applied for their citizenship but have not yet received their test date. A few are still thinking of applying and join the class to see what it is like. Janet liked the class so much that she brought her children, Kenneth and Myriam., and all of them passed their citizenship test in December 2019.

Some participants come back even after they have completed the 10 weeks. They like the friendliness of the group, and the opportunity to socialize, continue to learn about Canada, improve their English and find more information about their community. Elaina, for example, used to bring all three of her children to the group, but now she leaves them with their grandmother. She told the group she made the change so that Tuesday nights could be for her (self-care).

Learning about each other

Sofia told us that when her children mentioned something about a famous Canadian inventor they didn’t know about, she was able to tell them about him. She had studied him from the Canada Discovery Guide and was proud to answer quiz questions she learnt from it.

Another participant, Elaine, arrived one day carrying a beautiful multilayer cake that she made. The sour cream cake was created from a Russian recipe that her mother-in-law taught her. She also told the group about the potato soup she shared at home with her new friend Maria (from the group), who is from the Philippines.

Christen is one of two mentors that facilitate the group and support the participant’s learning. Below is a photo of her and Elaina, from Georgia, presenting her sweet creation to the group last February.

CultureLink Post Photo Crosscultural Communication

Sharing with, caring about and understanding each other helps build community.

If you need a Citizenship Education Circle in your neighbourhood, please contact Lily at lkrowiak@culturelink.ca  or 416-588-6288, ext. 213

The libraries and community centers are temporarily closed. We are working remotely to serve you better.

Tanya News, Settlement in the Community News

We keep working providing telephone and virtual support to all our clients, delivering settlement services to the newcomers regardless of their immigration status.

We will keep you updated on the current events and future developments; we are planning to host the webinars meeting the needs of newcomers to Canada and all who stay isolated at home.

If you require professional assistance with information and referrals about community, provincial or government resources regarding COVID-19, healthcare, legal issues, employment, housing, childcare, education, language training etc, please email OR call our settlement workers:

Claudia Montoya
Speaks Spanish

Shakira Quraishi
Speaks Farsi

Stanley Teo
Speaks Mandarin

Yan Gu
Speaks Mandarin

Our office is closed until further notice. But we are here for you.

Tanya Find a Job News, News

We keep working providing telephone and virtual support to all our clients.
Please stay updated on the current events, we are planning to develop and host a webinar series meeting the needs of the clients who are looking for their first job in Canada.

If you require professional assistance to determine what you need to become employed, to help you develop a job search strategy based on your skills, experience and circumstances, to know your employment rights or to improve your resume:

Please contact our Employment Specialists via email OR call and leave a voice message with your contact information:

Laura Labonte-Smith
Email: laurals@culturelink.ca
Phone: 416-588-6288 ext.215

Warda Abdulsamed (Speaks Arabic)
Email: wabdulsamed@culturelink.ca
Phone: 416-588-6288 ext.209

Employment Rights in Ontario Workshop

Tanya Find a Job News

Labour Market Assistance program in the partnership with the Workers Action Centre provided the participants with practical knowledge, facts and tools regarding Employment Rights in Ontario including minimum wage, overtime, employment termination, cash jobs, filing a complaint, vacation and public holidays, Employment Insurance application.

We received a great interest and positive feedback from the participants of this informative workshop.