SWIS Newsletter January 2015



SWIS Newsletter January 2015
Medieval Times with ESL Students
Ronald Rojas
Inside this issue:
Medieval Times ESL Students
from Bishop Marrocco
Chloe Gao – Award Recipient
NOW Program’s Peer Leader
December 6th as the National
Day of Remembrance on Violence Against Women
Anti-bullying / Wellesley Com- 3
munity Centre Info Session on
After School Programs
Neil Zuberi Attard
Resume Support Workshop in
Regent Park
Recently we have a great experience with the multicultural club at Bishop Marrocco/Thomas
Merton Catholic High School. Thanks to the support of our ESL teacher Ms Gortana and our Principal
Derek Chen, we were able to bring in a very snowy day a group of student to experience and educational and fun program at Medieval Times Dinner and Tournament Toronto Castle. The matinee show was
inspiring and full of good old English.
Student express their surprise of the details and the opportunity of a lifetime show. Afterward a
Chloe Gao – Award Recipient
NOW Program Peer Leader
Constance Kendall
Chloe Gao is a Chinese immigrant student who arrived in Canada with her father two
years ago to begin a new life. In the beginning, it was a challenge for her to live in
Toronto as it was very different to life in Guang Dong province and she knew very
little English which made her adjustment even more difficult. Chloe said, “I was afraid
of talking to others with my poor English, so I did not make any friends at the beginning.” However, she realized that staff and students at Central Tech were very supportive and willing to help her learn English. The more she spoke, the more her English improved. She became more confident and began participating in a number of
school groups and activities. Her hard work paid off.
In the summer of 2014, Chloe was selected as a Peer Leader for the NOW program
where she helped other newcomer students in their adjustment process to the school
and community. Her leadership experiences exhibited during this time and also her
improvement in English skills did not go unrecognized. At this year’s Student
Achievement Ceremony Chloe received three awards. The first was for Leadership in
the NOW program. The second was an ESL award and Scholarship of $250 for maintaining an A average in her Level E ESL class. She was also on the Honor Roll for
receiving the second highest average of 94% for Grade 12 during this semester .
Chloe is very proud to have received these awards and she feels encouraged to continue to work on her self-improvement and also helping others. She hopes to attend
University of Toronto to study Biology. Congratulations to our NOW Peer Leader
Chloe Gao.
December 6th, National Day of Remembrance
on Violence Against Women
Ajith Aluthwatta
December 6th marked the 25th anniversary of the Montreal massacre when 14 young women were shot and killed – one of the worst mass murders of Canadian history. On December 6,
1989, Marc Lépine walked into L’Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal and fatally shot 14 female students, whom he'd identified as feminists, before killing himself. His suicide note read, "I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their maker."
Canada has declared December 6th as the National Day of Remembrance on Violence Against
Women. For the past six years Peer Leaders of the Newcomer Orientation Program at Central Toronto Academy have taken the lead in organizing commemorative activities to raise awareness
among students and especially among newcomer students who are not familiar with this incident
that happened 25 years ago. It is also an opportunity for Peer Leaders to gain leadership skills in
organizing a school-wide activity.
This year NOW Program Peer Leaders held an information fair and bake sale on December
4th at Central Toronto Academy. Well attended and supported by both students and staff along with
the Arts Department, students raised $521 in a mere four hours! The highlight of the day was a special PA announcement at 11:00 a.m. led by our principal where NOW Peers and NOW participants
made a special statement in different languages commemorating the occasion. Newcomer students
were curious as to this historical event and students learned about zero tolerance towards violence
against women regardless of their cultural or linguistic background. The $521 raised was donated to
The Toronto Rape Crisis Centre and Shoe Box Project in which care packages in shoe boxes are
donated to women residents in shelters
Bike to School, Wheels Keep Turning
Kristin Schwartz
It may be cold outside, but the wheels keep turning on the Bike to School Project! When students at
Harbord Collegiate came to school after the holiday break, they found that new bike racks had been
installed, as part of a bigger project funded by Live Green Toronto and supported by CultureLink. Ultimately the project will provide parking for 100 bicycles. Almost 10% of Harbord students bike to
school in good weather, and they will really appreciate the new facilities.
In December, Harbord hosted a very successful discussion with CultureLink and the Heart and Stroke
Foundation, about the barriers to biking to school about how to overcome them. The Heart and Stroke
Foundation strongly supports "active transportation" - walking, biking, skateboarding, etc. for students and youth, to help them incorporate more healthy physical activity into their daily routine.
Another highlight of the past quarter was being invited to the secondary school "Kick Off" events of
the the EcoSchools Program of the Toronto District School Board. Over one full week in November,
we met almost 400 students and over 70 teachers at the Downsview Park Discovery Centre. Students had to complete our "Pedal Power" challenge, fitting helmets, riding in a "slow race" and finding
their route to school on the City of Toronto Cycling Map.
Many of these schools have gone on to sign up for activities leading up to the 2015 Bike to School
Week, which will be celebrated throughout the Greater Toronto Hamilton Area - for the first time ever!
Anti-bullying Session for ESL Students
Assad Mahmood
December 1st the SWIS Program and the
very supportive team from Western Technical
School ESL department organized an information
session on anti-bullying and resume development
for 70 ESL students. From 11 Division Police Services, Officer Troy shared information regarding
police checks, ID card checking (carding) and the
role of a police officer in the community. This
gave the students a positive outlook on the police
force in Toronto and Canada. Following this, Rebecca Howes, a placement student from Seneca
College, spoke about the importance of resume
writing and the do's and don'ts of interviewing.
She showed a video about a successful interview
and talked about the many forms of social media
that students can use to stay engaged. Abdul
Sabur Soheib, another placement student from
Seneca College, then discussed the importance
of cover letters. Students were provided with a
package which included mock resumes, cover
letters and interview questions as a template for
them to practice and write their own. At the end,
Rebecca and Abdul encouraged the students to
work in pairs and answer the provided questions asked in a standard interview. The students were involved
and asked questions which were thoroughly answered. I am extremely pleased with the success of our annual presentation. I would also like to thank Genine Natale, John Amadio, Michael Buessow, and Pamela Evans of Western Technical School for all their help and participation throughout the presentation preparation
and delivery.
Wellesley Community Centre Info Session on After School Programs
The SWIS program workers at St. James Town and Wellesley neighbourhood organized a
successful information session for after school programs at Wellesley Community Centre on December 1st, 2014. It was organized in response to requests from local parents looking for information about
afterschool programs for their kids so that the parents can pursue their dreams of a job or studying.
Jared Peters from Art City talked about free art programs provided at the Centre every day
after-school and on weekends to encourage the creative skills of children and youth to promote their
confidence and interpersonal skills. They p/u kids after school from Rose Ave, Church PS and Lady of
Lourdes PS and bring them to the centre. They also have March Break and summer programs.
Shabana from Community Matters shared the information about after school programs at
Rose Ave PS for kids from JK to Grade 4 which promote physical and mental health, artistic skills and
literacy and numeracy skills. Over 80 children attend in Rose Avenue School after school. Shabana
encourage families to call her directly for more information.
Bhim Rana and Cas Wilson talked in detail about the free programs offered at the Wellesley Community Centre for everyone to participate including preschoolers, children, youth, adults and older adults.
Popular programs are after school, winter camps for children and March and summer camps. Bhim
also talked about the Welcome Policy and how to fill up the forms. He asked participants to come to
the centre or call 311, if anybody requires any assistance.
Neil Zuberi Attard—Volunteer and Leader
Ajith Aluthwatta
Neil Zuberi Attard is not a newcomer
youth, but he does have a lot in common with
his newcomer peers and has been an important student leader. In September 2013
Zuberi, as a sole supporting youth just moved
to Toronto from Peterborough, enrolled at Central Toronto Academy (CTA) . Having grown up
in a relatively small city and re-locating all by
himself to a diverse and large city, CTA became his second home. Here, he experienced
rich cultural and racial diversity much more
than he had in Peterborough.
CTA is home to many newcomer youth from all
continents of the world. This led Zuberi to foster relationships with his newcomer peers,
many of whom may have experienced challenges in life as youth without an immediate
adult presence. He became an active student
leader in the school and took the initiative to
found the Students Activist Alliance with a majority of newcomers as participants. He actively
encouraged newcomer students to get engage
in social issues and gave them a forum to express themselves. It was after Zuberi demonstrated his leadership, that myself and others
began to see his full potential and then support
him through his efforts of student activism at
I was impressed when he launched a student
led petition to re-open the school library when it had been reduced to only one period. Through his
involvement in the Multicultural Club, Zuberi was a popular leader to many newcomer students of
African origin. I had the pleasure of motivating Zuberi to apply as a candidate for the 2014 Ontario
Anti-Racism Award presented in honor of Lincoln Alexander, the first ever black Lt. Governor General
of Ontario. He was disciplined and committed and accepted my offer of help to expand his knowledge
about issues facing students of colour. In June 2014 he moved to Ottawa to attend Carlton University
and study in the area of Public Policy. It was a pleasant surprise for me to see Zuberi again in December 2014 when he paid a visit to the school with great news: He is one of two student recipients
of the Anti-racism Award as well as a $5000 cash award! I am immensely proud of his achievements
and I look forward to attending the awards presentation with him on January 21 st 2015 at the Queen’s
Park Legislative Assembly where he will receive the honor. The last time the same award was presented to a CTA student was 2009 when NOW Program Peer Leader, Maria Jose Lopez, was a recipient. Indeed, it is a sweet memory.
by Rehmat Afzal
St James Town was developed in the late 1950s as the first high rise residential area
in Toronto, targeting the young professionals and eventually it became a major settlement
area for newcomers to Canada. This neighbourhood is not only the most densely populated
community in Canada but also among the top in North America. Although the educational
background of St. James Town residents is very high, there is a high level of unemployment.
Highly educated and skilled workers are unemployed because of barriers like Canadian experience, credentials recognition and lack of fluency in the English language. Some of them
have given up hope in finding employment in their previous professional background and are
applying for manufacturing/survival jobs out of necessity.
The overwhelming request for resume support to find a job, led to a successful Resume Support Workshop in Regent Park led by Olisa Thompson, CultureLink JSW Facilitator. The Dec. 4th session, held at the Wellesley Community Centre, was packed with information and valuable handouts. Targeted resumes, cover letter development, and interview
skills were covered by Olisa who did a remarkable job addressing the questions of each participant and allowing them time to share their experience. The session went over time as
participants had so many experiences to share and questions to ask. When it was over, participants wanted to know when the next session would be as they found the session so informative and useful.
Newsletter Editor: Lisa Randall , Program Manager SWIS
Design & layout: Rubina Afsar, Marianella Quintana
Contributor: Ajith Aluthwatta , Rehmat Afzal, Constance Kendall, Assad Mahmood,
Ronald Rojas
If you would like to contribute an article or interesting news to the next SWIS newsletter,
please send to:
[email protected]
[email protected]
CultureLink Settlement Services, SWIS
2340 Dundas Street West, Suite 301
Toronto, ON M6P 4A9
Phone: 416-588-6288

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