One-On-One Settlement Assistance for Newcomers

Our settlement services are offered to newcomers, immigrants, citizens, and refugees; we also provide customized programming available for women, youth and seniors. LSP (Library Settlement Partnerships) and SWCS (Settlement Workers in Community Spaces) programs deliver settlement services to all newcomers regardless of their immigration status helping them fully engage in all aspects of Canadian life. We identify newcomer needs and support them with information and referrals about community and government services for healthcare, legal issues, housing, employment, education, language training; we also assist with applications, documentation and referral translation services. Our settlement workers offer these services in a variety of languages based on community needs. The Toronto Public Library and the City of Toronto provide us with the space and support to deliver our services in the different locations including Toronto City Hall, Housing Connections, Wellesley Place Employment & Social Services for SWCS program and three Toronto Public Library branches for LSP program: Eatonville, Lillian H. Smith and Mimico Centennial Libraries.

If you require professional assistance with information and referrals about community, provincial or government resources regarding ealthcare, legal issues, employment, housing, childcare, education, language training etc, please email OR call our Settlement Program Workers:

Claudia Montoya (LSP) 647-404-2235 Speaks Spanish
Olisa Thompson (SWCS) 416-710-2493
Shakira Quraishi (SWCS) 416-997-2175 Speaks Farsi
Jiaxin (Karen) Liang (LSP) 647-404-8857 Speaks Mandarin
Iryna Kolotylo (LSP) 647-273-2097 Speaks Ukrainian

Testimonials and Success Stories

    • Hi Claudia,
      Thank you for your support and the organization you belong to is a blessing from God. In this process that we are going through to climb one more step in this beautiful country that has opened its arms to us and protects us. Now I can vote in the elections to defend my rights and continue placing a grain in each step we take as a citizen.
      Blessings to you.
      April 2021


    • Hi Claudia,
      I tell you that I took my citizenship test last week and thank God and you I pass.
      The result was 19 out of 20 😁 I am more than happy and grateful to have found you and Carmen on my way. Now to wait for the next step…My husband is still waiting for the invitation to take his exam. He therefore will prepare with you in this next course that you have.
      Thank you again.
      A hug and take good care of yourselves.
      March 2021


    • Dear Shakira,
      Good morning my Angel as I have always called you. The introduction of my family to CultureLink was the first dream come through for me in Canada after more than a year of not knowing my direction.
      To say THANK YOU SHAKIRA will be an understatement. Words are not enough for me to appreciate you. As a single mother, I came to Canada with hope lost as I needed to protect my children. Daily tears and millions of WHYs ran through my mind as everything looked blink. All these disappeared at just one meeting with you that lasted for three hours. All necessary files were reviewed, settlement links were made, and references were shared with me for a better approach to have peace and Confidence in the land I landed.
      One of such links to me was New Circles where my family and I got trainings and good clothing. This indeed brought us so much joy and satisfaction and the other very important one was housing and because of your clear guidelines and information, our housing application was processed for easy settlement. This aspect is more glorious and edifying as we move into a nice townhouse in the Waterloo Region with my children this coming Monday, in great joy and appreciation to the Canadian government, people and society for their warm arms of love and acceptance…I am looking forward to contributing to my Canadian society as I work hard to welcome others like me.
      CultureLink kept the contact and followed up with my family in that we had social events, sporting programs and seminars that broadened our mindset. I took up Volunteering with CultureLink as my appreciation to this reputable organization. The staff are fully committed to rendering selfless services to all not minding their racial identity.
      My gratitude to the team at CultureLink and I pray your passion to help immigrants be blessed from generation to generation.
      February 2021


    • THANK YOU VERY MUCH, THANK YOU VERY MUCH, THANK YOU VERY MUCH is the only thing I can tell you Miss Claudia Montoya (CultureLink) and Miss Kathering Caviedes (LEF) for your time and dedication on teaching us about Canada to get ready for the Citizenship test. You were patient and meticulous explaining the book and our doubts. I really appreciate this course and what you have done.
      Again, thank you very much.
      January 2021


    • I am very thankful for the opportunity I had to take this course of preparation for the citizenship test offered by Culture Link. It has been very useful. I has read the book already but was feeling the need of more support, so when I saw the advertisement for this course I was very excited to take it, and I am not disappointed. Now I have all the tools to be fully prepared when the time comes to present my test.
      Thank you so much to Claudia Montoya and Katherine for your time, dedication, and support to the Latin American community.
      January 2021


    • Dear Shakira,
      I hope you are doing well. I wanted to express my sincere gratitude for referring me to the Dress for Success Toronto program. With your referral, I got an appointment for January 2021. Due to the new lockdown measures, I received an email from them to either accept a virtual appointment or wait for an in-person suiting appointment. I took the virtual one, filled up an inquiry form regarding my clothes size and preferences… Sitting from my home’s comfort, I selected the attires and got two boxes of excellent formal clothes, shoes and a bag delivered at my doorstep the next day. All this was possible because of Shakira’s genuine help and effort. Even when I had given up, Shakira, you hung in there and held onto hope that something will work out even in the pandemic, and it did.
      I even put on those clothes and clicked some professional photographs as I had to submit them. After a long time, I felt good and confident to dress up in such nice clothes and show up. I am continually impressed by the fantastic work you are doing at CultureLink each day and choose to serve humanity. A lot of appreciation as well as a lot of applause for your team!
      January 2021


    • I have met Mrs. Yan Gu by accident at the Eatonville library two months ago. That meeting meant a lot to me as I managed to get things into order through her.
      She has extended a lot of support to me to get my papers organized, set up my application for child benefit and the tax papers, and guided me through the different aspects I needed support in. She has been exceptionally flexible, accommodative and supportive which gave me a vent as a returning immigrant to Canada. I appreciate this activity so much.
      I do want to thank the initiative and mention the impact it has had on me.
      December 2020


    • I hope all of you are doing well. I’d like to express my gratitude for all of your efforts and help in the CultureLink Team. I really appreciate your time and contribution.
      First of all, my sincere thank you to Stanley. Stan, you helped me a lot with my citizenship application, especially at the moments that were vital to me – your tips helped to prevent plenty of potential mistakes. Also I appreciate people who keep promises, Stanley is exactly one of these people.
      Next, Barbora, thank you for connecting me with Stanley in the past, as you see it went well. And thank you for your help to all students in TDSB Bickford Center. Your presence in the school classes positively impacted us all.
      Lastly, Rakesh, thank you for building a great professional team in CultureLink.
      I know many people are involved in this gain process, but I’m sure your role is unexpendable too.
      Thank you again for help me and others. CultureLink is in a special place in my heart in Canada.
      Stay safe.
      December 2020


    • A client called Yan asking for interpretation assistance with Toronto Employment & Social service Metro Hall office. Yan talked to client’s caseworker at Metro Hall office. The caseworker informed that they are not conducting face to face interviews during the pandemic and have difficulties communicating with clients who need interpretation assistance, in particular with Mandarin-speaking clients. Yan offered her help with interpretation and support for both sides, clients and caseworkers. Since then the caseworker has been referring many Mandarin-speaking clients to Yan and passed her contact information to other caseworkers who also have Mandarin-speaking clients in need for translation. Yan shared with the caseworker that CultureLink staff can also serve people speaking other languages. This is a great success story about building a network for assisting clients, especially during the pandemic.
      October 2020


    • Message sent from NFB (National Film Board) Programming Agent to Stanley With your videos, you give a special access to the NFB collection to a community with all the explanation and the translation. You really give the context on where the films are, you cleary specify the NFB, the pages on the web where to find those films, if anything, it is an amazing publicity for our films… Keep your amazing enthusiasm for the NFB!!
      August 2020


    • Hi Claudia,
      I am very grateful for the excellent week of knowledge about Canada. Projects like this really help the Spanish-speaking community and are vital to get the knowledge required to approve the Canadian citizenship test. I felt very happy and I will recommend these workshops to my friends as well as your professionalism to deliver them.
      August 2020


    • Thank You letter sent from CRA to Yan Gu (LSP, Eatonville Library) On behalf of your Community Volunteer Income Tax Program team, we would like to thank you for your contribution to the 2020 CVITP season. It has been a pleasure to offer support to many amazing organizations and volunteers throughout this challenging tax filing season. While our team continues to support the many organizations and volunteers that continue to help Canadians with their filing needs, we would like to take this opportunity to say thank you.
      July 2020

Thank you Letter from CRA

  • Thank you for taking your time, assistance and patience to assist me with my search for a new place. We met in February 2020 and you were very nice and polite to take time to listen to what I was looking for and assist with updating my file. After speaking with you and going through all the requirements and looking at the information provided it gave me a better understanding of everything including exactly what area(s) to search and what I needed would be accomplished. I wasn’t sure if I was going to find anything as my wait was a great deal already before meeting you.
    After leaving the office that same day, I received a call for a place within my criteria! After viewing the new place, I accepted and 2 months later I moved in. If it was not for you, I would be still waiting for a call.
    I cannot say it enough, THANK YOU!!
    July 2020


  • Thank you for the Zoom class this afternoon. That was a great documentary and I learned a lot. Your programs are very well done and well prepared ..I see many of the participants now attend regularly..and we all learned many new things …thank you for your hard work!
    June 2020


  • You’re the best! Yes, your reference list almost contains all I’d like to attend with. Especially for the subsidized housings (housing connections), the retirement plans and so on…Yes, I can’t agree more that the online talks would be a big help during this COVID quarantine period of time.
    June 2020


  • Thank you so much! I consider myself very lucky for being part of this group training that will help us for sure to get ready for our citizenship exam. I loved the course, it is really interesting and it is imparted in a very friendly easy-to-understand way.
    Thanks again!

    June 2020


  • I am writing this letter to let you know how Shakira helped and guided me through all the steps. When I was abused by my husband, I was in a very bad situation and needed immediate help. My friend introduced Shakira and since then she has been by my side from the beginning of the road to solve all my problems and have helped me. She did my welfare and housing application process for me. She introduced me to a Psychologist for treatment. She helped me to fill out all the forms for entire processes. She introduced me to a teacher for language classes, and now I attend this class once a week. Also because of her help and support I just received an acceptance letter from the Housing Connections that I am on the priority list.
    She has been sending me the addresses and information of the food banks so that I could use them if needed. In all circumstances, she answered my phone calls and immediately sent me information that needed. If she were not by my side and she did not help me, I would not be able to handle this situation. I am very grateful to Shakira for her unwavering support and guidance, and I believe with the presence of responsible people like Shakira that people like me do not feel lonely in the worst conditions of life and hope for life.
    June 2020


  • I am writing this email to say thank you so much for helping me and reaching out for me during this stressful time and guiding me to step forward when I was feeling helpless without your help, kindness and also being so patient towards me with my confusion.
    Thank you so much from bottom of my heart. I really appreciate your job.
    June 2020


  • Hi, I would like to thank Ms. Shakira for her hard work during the quarantine period. She has worked hard and spent long hours helping me with my taxes, electricity discount, social services, immigration and other benefits that I needed at this time. She also introduced me to a language class and answered my any question that I asked because I am newcomer to Canada. I am very, very grateful for her kindness and patience.
    June 2020


  • The Settlement counselors are very important in all aspects of settlement of newcomers to Canada. In my case I was lucky to have Shakira Quraishi. She is very knowledgeable about the different departments available to serve the community. I had the opportunity to meet her at the Employment & Social Services Wellesley place. Right from the beginning she gave me moral support during strenuous times. I was homeless and living on the streets, or in public parks. She helped me with the application for Ontario Works, subsidized housing in the city of Toronto and searching for Homeless shelters and room rentals. She also directed me to Dress for Success to get the formal clothing for job interview purposes. She always provided me prompt answers via telephone to learn about the procedures to be followed even on weekends, which is highly appreciated. She also assisted me to get untangled from a bad situation with a landlord. She knows how to help people in every aspect of their lives. She also helped me gain information about services and sent emails regarding food banks and activities like job fairs which are vital service to me. She also gave me information regarding the increase in Ontario Works caused by the COVID Pandemic. I am really appreciative of the work done by Shakira, because she is able to bring a positive change in people’s lives.
    June 2020


  • May 2020


  • Dear Claudia, I am happy because I wanted to take the citizenship course with you, but distance and time made it impossible for me to take it. Personally I have much to thank you for; you have always been a very important person in the most important situations of my life. Being a citizen is my dream and pride. The course was great. The subjects, the time for each one was carried out with great professionalism, this helps me to have the security of presenting the exam with all the security and knowledge. Again thank you very much and may God continue to bless you.
    April 2020


  • A client who had been on the subsidized seniors’ housing waiting list for a while, was finally invited to view an apartment on November 14, 2019. Although she accepted the unit the same day, the Tenant Service Coordinator, who is in charge for reviewing all required documents (T4, bank statements. etc), was less than responsive. The client attempted numerous times to follow-up with the Coordinator until the end of January 2020, when the LSP worker at the Lillian Smith Library drafted for her a letter highlighting the client’s frustrations, the lengthy wait and history of communications with the Tenant Service Coordinator. A copy of the letter was emailed to the Operating Unit Manager at Toronto Community Housing and a signed original was delivered by the client to the office. The next day, much to the delight and surprise of the client, she received a phone call from the Coordinator early in the morning requesting her to come and sign the lease. The Supervisor and the Op Unit Manager eventually also followed with the LSP worker, clarified the situation and apologized for the long wait between apartment viewing and lease signing. The client was glad that the situation was finally resolved and also very grateful for all the assistance provided by the LSP worker.
    January 2020


  • Hi Shakira!
    I’m here to give our report of the week as we agreed to do… No one else has given me so much time here in Canada: I am extremely grateful for all the attention you give to me and to my family. So I did two job interviews; both for shifts in the morning which will always allow me to go back to Toronto before 3 pm to pick up my kids from their school, because their well-being is mine too, as you’ve said to me many times… I also went to the clothing donation center, to get winter clothes for me and for the whole family. I can not thank you enough since the snow coats were off budget for me at this time. I also started to researching training centers for translators and interpreters. You have to know dear madam that without your precious help and your wisdom I will be sinking into an endless despair.
    I really appreciate your help, your humanity and your sincere goodness. You even carry our worries with you throughout the day to provide us with a support that does not stop at the office but which is extended to follow us at home throughout the day with a maternal like and safe attention. I admire your obstinacy in finding quick solutions to us; without the support of your program our integration problems may never end.
    Thank you for everything!
    October 2019


  • Paola, who was a graduated psychologist in Colombia, came to Canada as an International student. She studied at the Seneca College to become a social worker. Later Paola got a student placement with the LSP worker at Mimico Centennial Library, using an opportunity to gain Canadian experience. During Paola’s placement, the LSP worker has been helping her and other students to look for the job opportunities as part of the mentoring program. Paola found an interesting opportunity with Regeneration Community Service; LSP worker gave her a reference that helped Paola to feel confident at the interview and receive a job offer. Initially it was a part time position, but provided Paola’s skills and commitment she was offered to work full time. Thanks to her hard work and dedication Paola has completed her education, found a good job and now is waiting to obtain her Permanent Resident status in Canada.
    October 2019


  • Dear Mr. Stanley Teo:
    I’m writing this letter to extend my sincere gratitude for all the support and great help you gave me to complete my citizenship application ! Your very efficient and meticulous work have left very deep impressions on me. Thank you very much for being very kind and patient to all of your clients and because of your outstanding character and great personality we all respect you!
    Thank you very much for all your kindness and great help!
    Wishing you all the best!
    September 2019


  • Dear Shakira Quraishi,
    We writing you this letter just to say thank you for all the work you helped us with. Myself, my husband and my two kids came to Canada looking for safety from a very dangerous place called *home*. We came to Canada in March 2019 and applied for refugee status. We ended up in the shelter because we had no place to go and we had no funds with us. We stayed in this emergency shelter for almost 4 months. We started looking around searching for any assistance that could help foreign people like us. Then we discovered CultureLink. We discovered Shakira. A great person. A motherly figure. She helped me and my family. She motivated us and she gave us the encouragement and hope of a better future for me and my family in Canada.
    We were basically like little babies that crawl and need some push ups to start walking on their own. Shakira was there for us. She was there during my pregnancy before I gave birth and she was there as a mother after I gave birth. We found out about the subsidized housing. Shakira encouraged us to not only apply for the Toronto area, but also to make sure to apply for subsidized housing in the other cities in Ontario… and fortunately after a very short time just before the birth of our 3rd baby we got an approval from Sudbury for a three bedroom house.
    We are soo happy that we gonna start a new life there, me, my husband and our 3 kids in a a semi detached house with 3 bedrooms. We are very excited to start living there and call this place our home, our own home. There’s too much to say regarding our experience from day one to now here in Canada… it wasn’t easy and it wasn’t impossible, lots of ups and downs we did meet in our way. It’s not over yet but at least we almost there. But thanks to you Shakira, thanks to all the people that look forward to help newcomers and try to reach out to them. We really really appreciate it. Thank you soo much for all the support. Unfortunately there’s is no words to express how thankful we are to you and your organization and all the people that try their best to make it easy for us. Thank you again, Love you Lots! We will always be grateful to you, Shakira. You are always in our prayers.
    June 2019


  • Hello Shakira,
    I am writing this email because I want to tell you that I am glad that I met you because you save me at the most important moment in my life. I am a single mother living with my teenage daughter in Toronto on work visa only. In September last year I went to ask for help at Service Canada here in Etobicoke, they gave me your phone number and I called you that time and you were so helpful from the first moment we met at the Wellesley Place… you told me because I had no work permit it was difficult for you to help me to find a job; however you told me whenever I get my work permit I can call you back and then in February I called you again. I told you if I don’t find work within ten days I will have to leave Canada… you were so kind and you introduced me to a family restaurant the Shawarma Frenzy at Pape Avenue. They were exactly how you introduced them to me, they interviewed me and then hired me the next day. They are very kind people and I started to work with them right away.
    I am so happy with that job because not only I took care of my work permit but also I made my immigration documents to apply for PR. Also the most important they are so nice people as you told me. I appreciate you for all the help you gave me and also for the kindness you have as a person, whenever I called and you answered you were there for me, thank you, thank you a lot !! Happy Mother’s Day!!
    May 2019

  • I have had the need over the last week to visit Eatonville Library. While there on two occasions, I was working for an extended time and happened to overhear one of the staff, Celia, working with new people/families to Canada, assisting them in preparing immigration-related paper work. I was incredibly struck by how great Celia is in this role – she is so kind, gentle, helpful, patient with them. It made me so grateful that they had someone like Celia to work with. I was unaware of this kind of service being offered through the libraries. Such an important work! And such special people, like Celia, working in the libraries. I suggest to find a way of thanking Celia for how great she is in her job. And find a way of telling more Canadians like me of all the special work libraries are doing in our communities (I had no idea!)
    April 2019


  • I’m writing this letter to thank your excellent staff Mr. Stanley Teo for his very best work at Lillian H. Smith Branch Library. When I asked for help to renew my PR card last year, Mr. Stanley Teo was very carefully listening to my request and made detailed list what I should prepare for this application. He made the appointment the same day in the afternoon, efficiently helped me to fill all the forms and sent my application electronically. I received my renewed PR card recently and feel so grateful for his help.
    Last month when I complained that I had been waiting for 10 years to apply for the rent-geared-to-income housing and up till now there is no result, Mr. Stanley Teo suggested to apply for the seniors apartment as I was almost 60 years old. Then he helped me to do the research, to make a choice and now I see the light of hope in my housing application.
    Besides Mr. Stanley Teo is very patient explaining and helping me to solve all the problems when I was using the library computer. His kindness, patience and efficiency in his work did leave me very deeply impressed. I feel that we are very lucky to have Mr. Stanley Teo working in the library for the community! Because of his devotion and contribution he makes CultureLink the real link for the people in our community and helps us to solve a lot of problems!
    Mr. Stanley Teo is excellent and he is an outstanding employee!
    January 2019