Categorized | Immigrant

Catholic Crosscultural Services: Going Beyond Referrals and Information Sessions

Posted on 10 November 2010 by admin

It’s not every day that you get the chance to change a life for the better. However, at Catholic Crosscultural Services (CCS), it’s looked down upon. Of course, changing a life is good, but changing two is better, and changing more is even more so. In fact, CCS has had the privilege to change numerous lives for over fifty years. Our non-profit settlement agency helps newcomers acclimatise to their adopted country on a day-to-day basis.

Born as the Catholic Immigration Bureau, its steady evolution reflects the influx of newcomers to the GTA, and the cultural enrichment they bring along. As a result, today we serve immigrants, refugees, and other non-status newcomers to Canada regardless of race, age, religion or political affiliation. Moreover, we are glad to provide our services in over 30 languages, ranging from Cantonese to Urdu and from Swahili to Tigrigna.

The many people CCS serves is a testament to the amount and quality of services that it offers. One of the most common barriers to success and integration in Canada is acquiring proficiency in English. To help newcomers deal with this problem, CCS offers free English classes that include conversational classes, computer-assisted learning, and free childminding through our LINC (Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada) program. However, Anisley, one of the many people who has benefited from this program, believes that CCS is not just a settlement agency with English classes.

Anisley, an immigrant from Cuba

“I realized that CCS is more than that. Every single day is an excitement with classes, trips, and presentations that help us to gain practical knowledge about living in Canada”

Originally from Cuba, Anisley came with limited knowledge of English, but “in three short months, I had the confidence to speak with people. I was able to search for a job, and present my skills in a job interview, all thanks to the support and advice of my teacher and friends there.”

Manju Kappa and his wife

Another hurdle that newcomers often face is obtaining employment, as Anisley pointed out. Luckily, CCS offers free Job Search Workshops (JSW) that help newcomers prepare professional, marketable resumes. These interactive sessions allow newcomers to assess their employability skills, get information on accreditation, and access the hidden job market. However, that’s only the beginning, because CCS also provides one-to-one support for clients, where they receive job search coaching, and referrals to other appropriate programs and services.

Our settlement team provides many of these other services, and our counsellors often go beyond providing the basic referrals and information sessions on housing, health care, social assistance etc. They are committed to guiding the dynamic individuals that step into our office everyday.

“CCS has a very good reputation because we respect people. It doesn’t matter what country they come from or what religion they follow, we listen to them and try to help them in every aspect of their lives. We don’t just let them go and say ‘that’s it’. We look at people’s needs seriously because settlement is a serious thing: food, housing, employment…reassurance and hope” – Nayana Mistry, Settlement Counsellor

Manju Kuppa came from Mysore, India, in 2000 as a civil engineer with knowledge of construction work and software consulting. He was introduced to Nayana Mistry, one of our settlement counsellors, through his wife. Nayana promptly began helping him tailor his resume for the Canadian job market. After a difficult period of doubt and discouragement where he faced the common barriers to foreign professionals such as ‘qualification not valid’, ‘experience not recognized’ he then thought about becoming self-employed. Nayana again helped him rebuild his confidence to the point that today he is a successful real estate broker that builds and sells custom luxury homes.

“CCS and its counsellors were always giving us the confidence and patience to do well.”

Moreover, we can proudly say that Manju is now using his breadth of experience to help other newcomers integrate into Canadian society. In fact, he recently facilitated a CCS workshop for first time home buyers.

Yet, despite the best efforts of our counsellors, sometimes the immigration process can still be very difficult and stressful. The situations that can present themselves as a result of this distress can often be very difficult to talk about. Through the support services we provide to women (under the Violence Against Women program), our counsellors ensure that the voice of every woman is heard, and that the situations are dealt with tactfully and reasonably.

Whether you need English classes, job search skills, information on housing, education or training, reassurance, or all of the above, CCS is committed to helping newcomers like yourself adapt to Canada, and then to flourish.

Catholic Crosscultural Services has three office locations:

Mississauga:

3660 Hurontario Street, 7th floor,

(905) 273-4140

Brampton:

8 Nelson Street West, suite 302

(905) 457-7740

Scarborough:

55 Town Centre Court, suite 401

(416) 757-7010

Authors:

Gabriella Utreras

Waleed Ahmed

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