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Raj Chakrawarti appointed Interim Executive Director of CultureLink

CultureLink Uncategorised

July 8, 2021

The CultureLink Board of Directors is pleased to announce Raj Chakrawarti has been appointed Interim Executive Director of CultureLink following the departure of Naguib Gouda on July 16, 2021.

Raj has served CultureLink since 2009, most recently in the role of Finance Director. With more than two decades of professional experience in corporate finance, infrastructure financing, corporate advisory and IT, Raj’s transition to the settlement sector enabled him to follow his passion for helping newcomers enter and thrive in Canadian communities.

During his time at CultureLink, Raj has established himself as a respected and collaborative leader who has worked with a wide range of stakeholders, including funders from all levels of government. Raj will continue as Interim Executive Director until the permanent Executive Director position has been filled.

Applications for the EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR position are welcomed until July 31, 2021.

About CultureLink

Since 1988, CultureLink has been a settlement and community organization that develops and delivers services to meet the needs of diverse communities. CultureLink assists newcomers looking for employment, helps families navigate the school system, and provides youth with the skills necessary for bright and successful futures. Our 75 staff members and 500 volunteers speak more than 30 languages and serve more than 20,000 clients each year at no charge. CultureLink is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC), the Ontario Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services, the City of Toronto, the United Way Greater Toronto, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation. CultureLink also receives contributions from corporations, institutions, foundations and individuals.

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How CultureLink Helped Me

CultureLink Mentorship News

I decided to move to Canada with more than eight years of work experience in global business management and an international MBA. As someone who hired and managed senior professionals in India, Japan, and South Korea, I thought, what could be so different? I thought I knew how to find a job in Canada, yet it took me four months to find a job.

The truth is, finding a job in Canada is both easy and difficult. It is easy when you are well-prepared and difficult when you ‘think’ you are prepared but haven’t done the groundwork. For the first 50 days, I read online guides and did my best based on what I thought was obvious, but I still struggled to get an interview.

While looking for online resources, I met a fellow newcomer on LinkedIn who introduced me to JVF Toronto. At this point, I had heard of newcomer support agencies, but I thought I could do without them. I was so wrong! As I look back, I regret not applying to them before moving to Canada. Long story short, my JVF Toronto counsellor Irena Qatipi stepped in to give me a reality check. And among the many resources she offered, the CultureLink program has been the most useful.

CultureLink offers a very well-planned program spanning over a month. At first, it looks like a lot of investment and you wonder if you need to wait for a month to really know how to find a job in Canada, but then, it is worth it. Let me give you a snapshot of what I learned and found most impactful:

Reviewing the Resume: Oftentimes, our resume speaks in a manner we think everyone will understand. We underestimate the importance of numbers and underplay the impact of some of the initiatives we undertook during the course of our careers. Here, a panel of well-distinguished mentors who offer their guidance becomes very useful. We went through multiple rounds of revisions with different mentors. Some of the sessions were group discussions, picking examples of common errors and others were 1-1 discussions. My sincere appreciation for Sonya and Andrew Lockhart for being excellent teachers (and now friends!). Their dedication in helping me bring out the best of my experience onto the resume is beyond compare.

Beating the ATS: If you don’t know what ATS is, let me introduce it by calling it a machine-based security guard who doesn’t look at your candidature beyond a few lines of coding. When you apply to most well-established companies in Canada, your first barrier is ATS. If the keywords in your resume don’t overlap well enough with the ones in the job description, the system will throw you out of the list in most cases. From a logical standpoint, it may make sense, but we all come from different countries where terminologies differ and it is not immediately easy to speak in a language that the machine can read and evaluate our experiences positively. Again, CultureLink’s guidance on beating the ATS helped find a way through it.

Acing the Interviews: If it has been years since you interviewed for a job, and doing so in a different country will likely be your next hurdle. CultureLink’s sessions on understanding interview types, how to best prepare and master them, and the 1-1 practice sessions were of great help. A team of over 25 mentors from the industry stepped in to help us face real questions and become confident. In my opinion, technical interviews are far easier and more objective. It is behavioural interviews that are tricky. The tips and practice on handling STAR and non-STAR-based questions came in handy.

Networking: With so many sessions, mentors and participants – you are at one place where you can meet so many people with similar purposes and experiences. They are here to help, and that makes networking and referrals easier. It doesn’t matter what stage of your career you are at; you will find someone who can help you with local industry knowledge, perspectives, and best practices. 

In less than two months since I met CultureLink, I am now working with Assent Compliance as a Senior Consultant. Assent is a company that values diversity and has been more than fair in evaluating my candidature and welcoming me into their team. It’s been a pleasure interviewing with them, and I am glad I am starting my professional journey in Canada with them. Before joining Assent, I also spent a while volunteering with ‘Business in the Streets’ and LetsStopAIDs. I came across them through one of the sessions with CultureLink and I think the experience working with them made my days more purposeful. If you are someone who enjoys helping and working with people, I think the volunteering opportunities will help you meet similar minds, contribute to society and enhance your local experience.

Last but not least, the most important of all links at CultureLink is Eman El Atawy. The one lady who has kept us all together: the program, mentors, and the participants. She is our guardian in the new land who strives to make the best opportunities available for us. A wonderful person and a positive source of energy and motivation, she is one of the best programme leaders I have worked with. Thank you, Eman!

Kushal Bhardwaj

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CultureLink Announces Search for Executive Director

CultureLink Uncategorised

CultureLink is searching for its next Executive Director. We are looking for a leader, passionate about settlement and helping newcomers make Canada their home.

Reporting to the Board of Directors, the Executive Director will provide strategic, innovative, creative and dynamic leadership to the agency. They will be responsible for creating a shared vision of settlement and community development among the Board, community, staff and volunteers. They will be responsible for the overall management, administration and operations of CultureLink.

For the complete job posting, visit the Employment section of our site. The last day to send applications is July 31, 2021.




Naguib Gouda, CultureLink’s Executive Director since October 2020, will be leaving the post effective July 16, 2021.

Although we are sad to see him go, we thank him for his efforts with our organization in his short time.

The Board of Directors is managing the transition plan and actively searching for a new Executive Director. In the meantime, Naguib will continue to help CultureLink in the transition process and manage current business operations.

We appreciate Naguib for his continued support for the remainder of his tenure, and we wish him the best of luck in his new role.

Wellness for All – Share ‘n Care with Meditation

Sarah Ahsan SWIS News

What some of our participants said about these sessions:

‘Sometimes we tend to take everything for granted. When we take a moment to realize it makes us full of gratitude. It was a beautiful experience. I feel the difference in my life overall. Thank you.’ – Chaynika

‘Good and feeling fresh. Thank you for the session.’ – Vimla

‘It was great!’ – Anmol

CultureLink organized a series of Wellness Sessions for all in the month of June 2021 spread over a period of four days in the evenings, with each group session lasting an hour. The purpose of the Wellness Sessions are geared towards stress and relief through a specialized form of meditation -The Breath Water Sound which was offered under the aegis of IAHV – International Association of Human values and Art of Living founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar who is a global peace ambassador and humanitarian. Through The Breath, Water Sound meditation program, I.A.H.V. seeks to address the challenges of economically and emotionally distressed communities by empowering them. The first step towards empowerment is stress – elimination and inner confidence through simple breathing, sound relaxation and meditation techniques taught to relax the individual.

These techniques taught participants how to handle negative emotions such as anger, regrets and depression. By dealing with these emotions, there is a sense of peace and relaxation resulting in mental clarity, focus and confidence to find solutions for challenges faced. Participants enjoyed the wellness sessions and learnt about the meditation technique under a trained expert Jasminder Virk (Art of Living Teacher) and were feeling refreshed. IAHV programs reduce stress and develop leaders so that human values can flourish in people and communities.

CultureLink Post Banner Summer 2021

Summer Settlement Program 2021

CultureLink Uncategorised

Our Summer Settlement Program is back this July with many excellent activities planned for youth adults and families.

Orientation Sessions for Newcomer Families
July 7 & July 14 from 4:00 to 5:00 pm
Learn about events, activities and free resources for all of your family members as you settle in Canada.
For registration and more details, contact or 647-296-0947.

Youth Leadership Training
A training on leadership, positive habits, emotional resilience, relationship building, empathy & emotional intelligence, speaking, self advocacy.
For Permanent Resident and Protected Persons between the ages of 14 and 25.
July 7 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm – to register or for information contact or 437-288-9505.
July 9 & July 23 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm – to register fill out this form or contact or 647-283-0784.
July 15 from 3:30 to 5:00 pm – to register fill out this form or contact or  647-283-1065.

Financial Literacy Information Session
July 7 from 5:00 to 6:30 pm
Learn about income budgeting and savings, managing debt and credit history and the banking system.
To register, fill out this form or contact Shelina at 647-283-1065 or

Theatre Workshop for Newcomer Youth
July 14 & July 21 from 11:00 am – 12:00 pm
Interactive games and fun activities will help you gain important skills like teamwork, leadership and communications. For Permanent Resident and Convention Refugee Youth between 15 – 24 years of age.
To register, contact Rehmat at 647-406-5057 or

Rouge Park – Canada’s First National Urban Park.
Know Before You Go: Your First Froncountry Camping Trip
July 15 & July 22 from 3:30 to 4:30 pm
Learn the basics, from booking a camp site to the equipment you will need, cooking outdoors and wildlife considerations.
To register, fill out this Form or contact Yuhong at 647-282-9812 or

Mindful Parenting
Gauri Mukerjea, Mental Health Counsellor will explain Mindful Parenting, give us mindful parenting strategies and teach us how to manage anger and frustration.
July 20 from 5:00 to 6:00 pm
To register, contact Shelina at 647-283-1065 or