NEAT – Newcomers Explore and Appreciate Toronto

NEAT is a unique mentorship program designed to help new immigrants and convention refugees gain hands-on “Canadian Work” experience in event planning, project management and social media marketing.

Newcomers work with Mentors to explore Toronto’s neighbourhoods in person or virtually. Then, NEAT groups plan and organize free activities, such as guided tours of the city, nature walks, hikes, sports in the park, scavenger hunts – and in the winter, board game nights, winter hiking, snow sculpture competition, sledding, trips to ice fest etc. All of these activities are open to the public and specifically geared towards newcomers to Canada to help them get acquainted with Canada’s outdoor and social culture. The NEAT groups post and promote their events to the public using a Meetup Group.

During the initial orientation and speed-matching sessions, newcomers and mentors meet and choose the type of events they want to get involved with, based on their interests and experience. Working together, both mentors and newcomers get to practice public speaking, manage small and large audiences, learn new skills (use of virtual platforms, event planning, risk management or social media promotion).

NEAT offers events all year round that are known as NEAT Walks. In the winter, we call them Wintegration Events.

Through the COVID-19 pandemic, all meetings and events have been virtual. When possible, in-person activities will be subject to COVID-19 restrictions and guidelines.

Join NEAT!

For information on becoming a Newcomer Event Planner or a Mentor, contact Rubeen, 437-249-7103 (WeChat and WhatsApp), 416-588-6288 x 231 or

For upcoming dates, visit CultureLink’s Event Calendar

Do you want to be a Newcomer Volunteer Event Planner?

  • Are you a newcomer looking for hands-on “Canadian” work experience?
  • Are you interested in event planning and social media marketing?
  • Do you enjoy history, architecture, nature and sharing your knowledge with others?
  • Do you enjoy walking, exploring and meeting new people?
  • Do you want to learn new skills or enhance your public speaking skills?
  • Are you looking for flexible volunteer hours that would fit well with your schedule?

If you answered ‘yes’ to any of the questions above, THAT’S NEAT!

The time commitment is 4-6 months and the target is to organize a minimum of 2 events or activities.


  • Landed immigrants or convention refugees over the age of 18 (we require proof of status)
  • Must be able to commit to the program for a period of 4 to 6 months
  • Willingness to travel within Toronto
  • Ability to walk for a couple of hours or more
  • Willingness to spend time outdoors during fall and winter
  • Interest in exploring Toronto, organizing winter activities, learning new skills, openness to new ideas and using one’s full potential
  • Ability and willingness to work in a team as well as independently
  • English Language Level 4 and up is encouraged.
  • Experience with technology, using various online platforms or willingness to explore and learn.


To participate, fill in and submit the NEAT newcomer registration form.

We ask our Newcomer Event Planners to sign a Media Release and Liability Waiver, as well as a Volunteer Agreement that details their role and time commitment.

We provide a certificate of completion and a general reference letter if required.

Do you want to Volunteer as a Mentor?

  • You are interested in outdoor events and activities
  • You are interested in working with new immigrants and refugees
  • You are able to commit to working with newcomer volunteers for at least 4-6 months and help organize at least 2 guided tours or activities
  • You are 19 years of age or older
  • You have been living in Canada for at least 5 years


  • Must provide two references and police clearance *
  • Must attend volunteer orientation sessions and NEAT orientation and networking sessions **
  • Must report monthly meeting hours and activities.
  • Experience with technology is desired but not mandatory


To become a mentor, sign up online at (please use this direct link). In your profile, under “Your most preferred mentoring activity”, sub-section “Placement Preferences”, please select “NEAT Walking” which represents the NEAT Mentorship Program. The online profile includes information of two references (name, email & phone). References cannot be related to the applicant.

* We require Level 1 Police Clearance, the application can be done online or in-person and costs about $20 in Toronto. CultureLink reimburses this cost after receiving the original clearance letter and receipt of payment. We also accept copies of a valid police record check. Volunteers residing out of Toronto will be reimbursed a maximum of $20.

** Most Orientation Sessions, Networking & Match Meetings and training sessions are held at CultureLink’s office or virtually via zoom.

We ask our Volunteer Mentors to sign a Media Release and Liability Waiver, as well as a Volunteer Agreement that highlights their role and time commitment.

We provide a certificate of completion and a general reference letter if required.

Partnership with Arts in the Parks

For the past several years, NEAT has partnered with Arts in the Parks to provide interested individuals opportunities to volunteer as “Arts in the Parks Ambassadors”.
Arts in the Parks offer volunteer opportunities all around Toronto starting from June till September, throughout the week. Shifts can be 2 to 6 hours long. In order to get a certificate, we encourage that you volunteer for at least 3 shifts.

Arts in the Parks Ambassadors are the face of the Toronto Arts Foundation at each and every Arts Park across the city. Ambassadors have the opportunity to get involved in multiple ways throughout the event: assisting with setting up and tearing down, simple signage pre/post-event, distributing brochures to audience members and passersby, answering questions about the event, park, and the Toronto Arts Foundation, conducting short audience surveys post-event and more.

If you are interested in various forms of art, exploring the beautiful parks of Toronto, love outdoor activities and enjoy meeting new people, this is a position for you!

Anyone can volunteer with the Arts in the Parks! Training is provided via Arts in the Parks.

For more information, contact Rubeen, 437-249-7103, 416-588-6288 x 231 or


“Thank you very much for the trip yesterday to Terra Cotta Conservation Area. We enjoyed it a lot. It was super and a great experience for us. We walked, saw a lake, learned about animals, tress and forest, touched the beaver pelt, beaver jaw, deer antlers, turtle shell. The children played and took a lot of photos. It was fun[ny]. Thank you again.” – Sara, Ruslana, Gabriela