Resettling Refugee claimants: Ontario, Quebec Sector Solutions

A public opinion poll from August 2018 found most Canadians believe we are facing a refugee crisis, related to the ‘non-official’ entry of people through Canada’s land border with the United States. Another poll in September found that three out of four Canadians support taking in refugees. In Ontario and Quebec there is a growing anti-refugee sentiment, combined with xenophobia, racism and Islamophobia. At this session you will hear from speakers from Quebec and Ontario, about what the refugee-serving sector in each province has done to address everything from providing services to claimants, to working with government to find solutions, to addressing harmful untruths about refugee claimants.

Mental Health Promotion in the Settlement Sector

In 2017, OCASI launched its Mental Health Promotion Guide for Agencies Serving Immigrants and Refugees, and from this, Newcomer Centre of Peel (NCP) and Rexdale Women Centre conducted a four-week pilot project, called “Mental Health Promotion Guide Pilot Project”. In response to this pilot project, OCASI requested the two agencies to extend the pilot project and develop a formal partnership with us to continue to pilot the guidelines, with the following objectives:

  1. To allow the two agencies to adapt the guidelines at both the agency (policy) and front-line worker levels in a way that works for the individual agency context.
  2. To build transferable knowledge on how the guidelines can be implemented within different agencies.
  3. To create opportunities for organizational mentorship where piloting organizations can support other agencies that choose to adopt and implement the guidelines in the future.

Therefore, we are proposing to share our findings with other settlement agencies for knowledge-based transition and mentorship on mental well-being of staff and clients. This session considered as a case study.


Effat Ghassemi has been involved with the immigrant and refugee communities since 1990. Her professional career is dedicated to serving newcomers to Canada for their settlement and integration. She has demonstrated determination and passion towards building a welcoming community in Mississauga and the rest of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Her community work has touched thousands of newcomer families upon their arrival by providing guidance and support in terms of employment, business start-up, continuing education, network building and other settlement issues. She is a tireless advocate for gender equality and racial harmony. Her efforts have been directed towards increasing social inclusion and innovation as means to sustaining vital services. She is firmly committed to compassion and social justice for the most disadvantaged in our community, especially women and children. She is a motivational speaker, mentor and role model to her peers and immigrant communities. She obtained her Masters Degree in Immigration and Settlement Studies at the Ryerson University. She is currently working towards her PhD focusing on the identity development and mental well-being of newcomer youth.

Fatima Filippi has worked in the immigrant and women services sectors since 1982. Fatima is the executive director of Rexdale Women’s Centre that serves more than 12,000 individuals annually. Fatima has worked with culturally diverse staff and boards of Directors' to implement settlement, orientation, English language, crisis intervention, violence against women and children.

How to Communicate Effectively Across Age, Gender and Cultural Lines

Research shows that 60% of a leader’s time is spent communicating. Communicating effectively with such diverse groups across age, gender and cultural lines can be a challenging task for anyone. This workshop confronts such challenges and identifies the 7 Laws of Communications which give attendees the tools to create even safer environments in their workplace for everyone to express themselves openly. It gives attendees the tools to communicate honestly, openly, respectfully, directly with calm confidence and safe strength with all who reach out to them without fear of crossing the line.

This is an interactive workshop with a lot of participation from attendees. It includes a slide presentation, Q and A, and discussion of actual situations that attendees face.


Ahmad Duranai is an Architect, Certified Coach, bestselling author. He has 25+ years experience in architecture and as the owner and head coach of Duranet Enterprises. He has facilitated seminars and workshops on leadership and communication skills, personal development, and workplace engagement. He is the Master Trainer of Verbal Aikido, provided training to for-profit and non-profit sectors including the United Nations and international banks, and delivered presentations at universities. Ahmad is a community activist and volunteered with non-profit boards for 25 years. He is the recipient of 2013 Lieutenant Governor Award and Medal in Humanities and Social Justice.

Intercultural Competency Advantage. How to Get the Best from Cultural Diversity While Addressing Systemic Discrimination

Cultural diversity is now fully recognized as an asset for organizations and companies. Nonetheless, it can also create misunderstandings and conflict in the workplace. Participants will:

  • Explore concepts like culture, diversity, and intercultural competence
  • Evaluate your own cultural frameworks, and learn how assumptions arise and affect your daily interactions
  • Identify cultural elements in your workplace that can affect organizations, groups, and individuals, as well as relationships with clients
  • Improve your knowledge of intercultural competency tools that can be used when interacting with others
  • Learn about communication strategies and best practices for culturally diverse workplaces
  • Explore the relationships between power dynamics, situational privileges, and systemic discrimination
  • Receive support in building your own social enterprises on Intercultural Competency services.

Facilitation strategies for this workshop include a discussion of case studies from the settlement sector and a communication test.


Michele Manocchi works at the Cross Cultural Learner Centre, London ON, as Intercultural Education Specialist, where he coordinates, develops, and delivers the Intercultural Competency Advantage Program. Michele holds a Ph.D. in Comparative Social Research earned in Italy – his country of origin. He is also a member of the Centre for Research on Migration and Ethnic Relations at Western University, and collaborates with Ryerson University. His main research interests are on evaluation research; intercultural education; non-status migrants and Sanctuary City policies; refugee reception systems; settlement services and social policies for refugees and migrants; labelling processes and practices of resistance.

Ensuring Equitable Access to the Canada Child Benefit for Migrant Families

This workshop will examine the inequitable exclusion of those without regularized immigration status from the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), a tax delivered benefit aimed at addressing child poverty. Eligibility rules will be explained and the impacts of exclusion explored, including its primary impact on women; racialized, low income, immigrant women and their families; the forcing of women to stay in abusive relationships; the deepening of already existing poverty gaps, race and gender inequities, and the creation of significant barriers to successful settlement. The workshop will discuss how community-based legal clinics have been organizing and advocating to challenge the law to secure equal access to the CCB on several fronts.

Participants will come away with a better understanding of the CCB and its importance in addressing the poverty of migrant families; the harmful and discriminatory impacts of denying the CCB, and advocacy strategies that can be employed to address such discrimination.

The workshop will be presented by lecture, the use of case studies and some group discussion.


Avvy Go is the Executive Director of the Chinese and Southeast Asian Legal Clinic. She has worked for decades in the legal clinic system, serving the legal needs of low income immigrants with linguistic and other barriers in accessing the legal system. She is a bencher of the Law Society of Upper Canada and is currently a part time adjudicator of the Health Professions Appeal and Review Board and the Health Services Appeal and Review Board. Apart from her legal practice, Avvy spends much of her time in community organizing and advocacy work.

Marie Chen is a staff lawyer at the Income Security Advocacy Centre working in test case, human rights and Charter litigation addressing systemic issues relating to provincial and federal income security programs. She has extensive experience in Constitutional and human rights law has engaged in advocacy and law reform at Canadian and international forums.

Financial Management in Turbulent Times

The financial well-being of your organization ultimately rests with your board, however the Executive Director is responsible for the management and control of the organization on a day-to-day basis along with staff. Through group discussion and case studies, participants will gain a better understanding of financial management and control as well as how to share and communicate financial information to your board.

Particular areas of learning include:

  • Developing your organizational budget and how to present your annual budget to your board for approval
  • How to use financial reports to monitor your finances throughout the year
  • Indicators of financial health of an organization
  • Cash Flow Management
  • Financial Controls


Eric Plato is a CPA, CMA who has worked in the non-profit sector for over 25 years. He has worked with organizations with budgets ranging from under $50,000 to over $100 million. Eric has also served on boards for several non-profit organizations. He is currently the Director of Finance and Administration for Operation Smile Canada and is serves on the board of North York Community House as Treasurer. He has delivered numerous workshops on budgeting and financial management to the sector. Eric is especially talented at making financial management clear and understandable for the non-financial person.

Decent Work for Women in Ontario’s NonProfit Sector

The nonprofit sector’s distinctive features, challenges, and trends significantly impact its labour force, one that consists of 80% women workers. However, we know very little about how women are faring in the sector. How do challenges women face in the broader labour market particularly manifest and impact different women working in the sector (e.g., the gender wage gap, ‘glass ceilings’, and leaky leadership pipelines)? Given the critical intersections between labour, the nonprofit sector, and women, the Ontario NonProfit Network (ONN) is exploring these questions by applying an intersectional gender lens to its decent work movement. In this workshop, we will engage the audience in thinking about what decent work for women in their sub-sector looks like. We will present our findings on women’s employment experiences in Ontario’s nonprofit sector from our research activities and work with the audience to strategize solutions for change at the organizational, network and policy levels.


Pamela Uppal For the past 10 years, Pamela has been connecting theory with practice for the past engaging on three fronts: research initiatives, frontline work, and policy dialogues. She led a nonprofit organization at the University of Toronto, was a frontline worker in family services, built diversity, equity and inclusion capacity in Peel region, and undertook multiple research projects exploring gender issues in the South Asian community. Currently, she is leading a project at The Ontario Nonprofit Network exploring women’s employment experiences in the nonprofit sector. Pamela is also a group facilitator and a board member of Laadliyan. She holds a Masters degree in Women Studies & Feminist Research from Western University.

Settlement Experiences of Immigrant Women, Youth and Seniors in Canada: An Intersectional Analysis

This workshop aims to present preliminary findings of the “Immigrant Women, Youth and Seniors (IWYS): Settlement Outcomes – Services Connection” project and the “Understanding Syrian Newcomers’ Acculturation” project. Researchers also hope to consult with the Executive Directors' on the next steps of their research.
In these two projects, researchers are studying the settlement experiences of Canadian immigrants with age and gender diversity. First, IWYS researchers will present their secondary research findings on the settlement outcomes and services for immigrant women, youth and seniors. Second, a case study of Syrian young adults in Windsor will be presented. Participants will benefit from this workshop in two ways for both projects:

Gaining an all-round knowledge of the national settlement and service landscape concerning the three groups getting a chance to reflect on their personal and organizational experiences, thus contributing to the research.

Windsor case study:
Learning how research findings contrast with some of the common perceptions on immigrant experiences in Canada while discussing a positive framework that sheds light on what host communities and immigrants are doing successfully. Following brief presentations, workshop participants will join a group discussion that will help capture their experiences and ideas on what it takes to facilitate the settlement of newcomers in Canada.


Adnan Türegün is the Director of CERIS, a university-community-government partnership in research and knowledge mobilization. He leads the project on Immigrant Women, Youth, and Seniors (IWYS) with a group of researchers from Ryerson University, the University of Toronto, and York University.

Naolo Charles is the Knowledge Exchange Officer for the IWYS project, working closely with three research teams to develop and implement effective knowledge mobilization strategies, tools, and activities.

Riham Al-Saadi is working towards her PhD in Social Work, conducting her dissertation on acculturation and immigrant populations. She currently is a Mentoring Coach at the Multicultural Council of Windsor Essex; previously working with refugees in their first year of resettlement in Windsor on different settlement aspects. She currently works in private practice in Transparency Counseling Services, where counseling is offered and delivered in both English and Arabic; specializing in emotional and social issues, and immigration-related stress. Riham has over years of research experience in volunteer, student and employment role and is part of local research groups.

Labour Policy Reform Recommendation by immigrant women

Since April 2017 a group or more than 200 Bangladeshi immigrant working women have been engaged in a Status of Women Canada civic life. The project aimed at enhancing the participation of immigrant women in Canadian civic life. The project funding has been provided to COSTI Immigrant Services within its mandate to assist newcomers learn about and participate fully in Canadian society. The women were recruited and activated for project roles by COSTI’s partner in the target community, the South Asian Women’s Rights Organization (SAWRO)
Sawro would like to conduct a presentation in this summit to discuss on issues of changed to labour laws and labour policies needed by Bangladesh immigrant women working in low wage precarious jobs. Presentation will reflect immigrant women lived experience on precarious labour market and experienced how devalued their skills and experience that they brought as skilled immigrant in Canada. The workshop will highlights the need of labour market reform such work related social benefit EI, Maternity, childcare etc. based on equity seeking racialized immigrant women needs.


Sultana Jahangir has been a social service worker and social worker and social justice advocate for 25 years in Bangladesh, the United States, and Canada. After immigrating to Canada she lived in Toronto’s East Danforth are, which has a high concentration of low-income immigrant women from the area to create their own organization—the South Asian Women’s Rights Organization (SAWRO). Since 2007 she has served as SAWRO’s Executive Director. Under her leadership SAWRO has developed effective programs to reduce community poverty and empower women and girls. Sultana has a Master’s Degree in Political and Social Sciences from Dhaka University and has enhanced her skilled through additional education in the United States and Canada.

We are all Treaty People

It is a disturbing fact that most Canadian-born people do not know the history of Indigenous people in Canada and their many contributions to our country. Similarly, newcomers to Canada are not, as common practice, given information about Indigenous history. Within the 94 Calls to Action of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, there are two actions specifically addressing newcomers: changes to the information kit for newcomers and changes to the Oath of Citizenship to respect the Treaties. But this is only just the beginning of what we can do, as agencies serving newcomers, to ensure that immigrants to Canada have not just knowledge but an understanding of and appreciation for the history and rights of Indigenous peoples.
In this session, we will learn about the new video and discussion materials sponsored by the National Settlement Council and prepared by Indigenous filmmakers and consultants by settlement agencies to help bridge this knowledge gap. We will then have a facilitated discussion to answer the question: what else can we do to further the cause of reconciliation in our own agencies?


Margaret Eaton has served as Executive Director of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council, a multi-stakeholder council that brings leaders together to create and champion solutions to better integrate immigrants in the GTA labour market since 2012. Previously, she was President of ABC Life Literacy Canada and has had leadership roles in arts and culture. In 2012, she was awarded a Diamond Jubilee medal for contributions to literacy and culture. She is a settler who is trying to find ways to support Indigenous peoples in their quest for self-determination and she heartily believes that we all have a role to play in supporting this goal.

Mario J. Calla, BA, MSW, has been the Executive Director of COSTI Immigrant Services since 1987. COSTI is a community service agency that has been providing a broad range of services to immigrants and refugees in the greater Toronto area since 1952. Mario is involved in his community on a volunteer capacity. He is past-President of Social Planning Toronto, serves on the Board of TRIEC and Chairs its Board Development and Governance Committee, has served as Vice-President of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants and Vice-President of International Social Services of Canada and is currently on the Board of the Catholic Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, among other activities. Mario has served on the Minister’s Roundtable on Fair Access to Regulated Professions and on the Minister’s Advisory Group on Mental Health and Addictions for the Province of Ontario. Mario has been recognized for his work with a number of awards including the Newcomer Champion Award by the Province of Ontario, the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals and the Calabria-America Prize in Taurianova, Italy.

Using Social Media to a Culture of Engagement in your Organization

How can social media help our organization?
(1) Using social media to create a sense of community
(2) Using social media to create a supportive environment
BUT: Are we ready to establish a social media presence?
Conclusion: Having an organizational culture of engagement is the key to being effective in social media.

Questions to consider:
Is there a culture of connectedness among your staff? How connected are they in the community beyond your organization?
Is there a culture of advocacy in your organization to ensure different voices are heard?

Learning outcomes:
Participants will learn to evaluate whether their corporate culture is ready to support a social media presence, and how to develop programming that works in conjunction with a social media strategy.

Facilitation Strategies: The workshop will be conducted in a combination of lecture and group activities.


Jennifer Yip is an enthusiastic, curious, and out-of-the-box thinker currently serving as the Program Manager of Youth Services and Digital Media Marketing at the Centre for Immigrant and Community Services. (CICS) She was a part of the team that curated the digital media strategy for CICS and has established multiple successful platforms suitable for youth engagement. Jennifer had previously created multiple successful social media campaigns as a freelance Social Media Manager for Poke Guys Toronto. She is currently sharing her passion for digital media and advocacy for newcomer youth as co-chair of the Newcomer Youth Services Providers Network with the York Region Local Immigration Partnership (LIP). Prior to her exciting roles at CICS, Jennifer was the Director of Public Relations (2013-2014) and Editorial (2012-2013) for the York University Sociology Undergraduate Student Association, as well as an Online Academic leader for the award-winning YU START New Student Transition program for York University. She is also a proud graduate of the United Way Creative Institute for Toronto’s Young (CITY) Leaders program.

Jayne Ramosis a passionate front-line social services worker with a demonstrated history of both work and volunteer experiences in the health and human services field. Jayne currently serves as a Youth Settlement Worker at the Centre for Immigrant Community Services (CICS). Prior to her position at CICS, Jayne worked in both clinical and community settings with older adults, in which many faced various neurodegenerative illnesses and/or physical disabilities. In addition, she also volunteered for many years with children, most notably at world-renowned hospitals such as The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) and the Holland-Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital.Her knowledge and experiences have allowed her to develop skills in program planning and implementation, group facilitation, and supportive counselling with individuals of all abilities, cultural backgrounds, and age groups. With her roles as Team Lead at her branch, and current Project Coordinator for the “CICS Virtual Company” youth entrepreneurship pilot-project, Jayne strives to explore ways in which she can further help others learn, grow, and ultimately inspire empowerment.

Sarmini Vettrivelu is a Registered Social Worker (RSW), artist and Youth Settlement Worker at the Centre for Immigrant and Community Services (CICS). In her current role, she focuses on program planning, group facilitation and outreach efforts to assist newcomer youth as they transition through change. Sarmini has experience in psychotherapy, child welfare, hospital services, harm reduction, crisis counselling ,and autism services. As a lifelong learner and advocate, her passion includes mental health advocacy and bridging social justice with creative self-expression.

HIV and the Law for Settlement Agencies

The workshop will provide an overview of the science of HIV, stigma faced by people with HIV, and HIV-related legal issues. Discussion of HIV and its intersection with the law will include human rights, disclosure (criminal and public health), testing, immigration/refugee, and privacy.
Participants will gain a better understanding of HIV, stigma, laws that relate to HIV, HALCO’s free legal services, and the role that community workers can play to support their clients living with HIV. The workshop participants will receive a package (including PowerPoint slides) of resources and information that encourages questions and discussion.


Jill McNall has been the Community Legal Worker at the HIV & AIDS Legal Clinic Ontario (HALCO) since 2007. HALCO Legal provides free legal services for people living with HIV & AIDS in Ontario. Prior to joining HALCO, Jill spent many years at Willowdale Community Legal Services (WCLS) in Toronto. Although first and foremost a Community Legal Worker, Jill has been a licensed paralegal since 2008. She has a B.A. from the University of Toronto and speaks Spanish as a second language.

Accessing government data: what, how, and on whose terms

Last year, over 7,000 publications included the phrase "data is the new oil". Increased access to this resource could allow nonprofits to better integrate services and track outcomes, while also advocating more effectively to the address the root causes of social issues. Much of the data that could enable these changes is held by government, and currently unavailable to the nonprofit sector. Unlocking these opportunities will require changes to policies that shape what data is collected and shared, with whom, and under what conditions - and of course, such changes involve both benefits and risks! OCASI and Powered by Data are working together as part of a coalition of 50+ civil society groups to develop a policy agenda around this issue. This interactive session will present the initial findings of our coalition's research and consultation process, and invite participants to help shape policy recommendations on the future of data sharing in Ontario.


Jon McPhedran is passionate about convening diverse stakeholders around shared interests in a data-enabled social sector, with a commitment to facilitating equitable participation across differences in power and position. Jon's professional experience includes leadership roles across the fields of grassroots community services, international development, and management consulting. They recently completed a Jeanne Sauvé Fellowship, and spent 4 years as Director of Head & Hands in Montreal. They've also worked with McKinsey & Company in Montreal and Ashoka in Berlin, and served as an independent consultant to clients from the public, private, and social sectors.

Co-creating Inclusive Access

This presentation will explore how cross-sector stakeholders have established Durham Region Accessibility Awareness Working Group (DRAAW) to support people of all abilities and diversities (including newcomers, immigrants and refugees). Through OCASI’s Allies in Accessibility Program, DRAAW has built capacity in Durham that boosts access to services and connects service providers and service users by increasing awareness, active participation, referrals and information sharing.

There will be an opportunity for participants to share their own best practices and experience of improving service accessibility and working collaboratively to build inclusive communities. We will also share lessons learned while developing a region-wide working group. Information shared will be used to co-create tools on how agencies can better foster inclusive service delivery and barrier-free access for diverse individuals with visible and invisible disabilities.


Hermia Corbette’s background includes work in the government and non-profit sector. She has worked for several years researching, developing and launching programs in the areas of youth employment, community development, newcomer services, conflict mediation, partnership building and community engagement. As the manager of the Welcome Centre Immigrant Services in Ajax, she collaborates with an extensive network of partners that provide services in language instruction, employment guidance, settlement services, social integration and other government and community supports to people who have recently made Canada their home. Hermia, currently serves as an OCASI Allies in Accessibility Champion for Durham Region and is co-chair of Durham Region Accessibility Awareness Working Group (DRAAW).

Pam DeWilde is Manager of Welcome Centre Immigrant Services - Pickering. After years spent living in countries around the world, Pam’s passion for working in the local settlement sector is a reflection of her gratitude for the “welcome” she experienced during her own settlement journey. Pam initially supported newcomers to Durham Region as Coordinator of the Inter-Church Immigrant Support Group, and as the Faith and Cultural Representative on the Durham Local Diversity and Immigration Partnership Council. Before managing the Welcome Centre, Pam worked for World Renew, a national Sponsorship Agreement Holder, assisting private refugee sponsorship groups across Canada. Pam is a co-chair of Durham Region Accessibility Awareness Working Group (DRAAW).

Building the Advocacy Capacity of your Board of Directors'

Some organizations have struggled with being publicly active in policies that impact their participants. Many times, there seems to be concern at the Board level about engaging in public education, lobbying or advocacy. This workshop will briefly debunk concerns about the legislative frameworks (CRA and Ontario Lobbyist Registry), and share some good practices and tools to help a Board create, approve and monitor an advocacy agenda for the organization. The workshop will recommend a model of a Board Advocacy Committee or Board Policy Committee to provide governance oversight and profile to this key function, the same as a Board Finance Committee may provide oversight to finances. Two organizations in different regions of Ontario will share their experiences, and there will be an exercise of table discussion of participants on where their organization is currently on a maturity model for advocacy. This workshop is aimed at Executive Directors' who provide support and capacity building to their Boards of Directors'.


Bill Sinclair is a social worker and the Executive Director of St. Stephen's Community House in Toronto. Bill has sat on the Board of OCASI and CERIS, and is active at sector tables such as the Toronto South LIP, TCLHIN, ONN, and Toronto Neighbourhood Centres. Bill is proud that his organization has taken public action on a wide range of issues such as Decent Work.

Gender in the Settlement Sector - Closed Session for Women

As a women’s only workshop, we will explore the challenges faced by women-led–women-focussed organizations in the sector. We will present data, case studies and other relevant materials on women in the non-profit sector and discuss comparisons with women in other sectors. We will explore the intersectionality between gender and race and how they impact women-led-women-focussed organizations in achieving equity. Specifically, through panel presentation we will explore and discuss issues related to wages, organizational funding, workplace/sector harassment and violence, misogyny/sexism in sector and transphobia.
Based on the findings and issues identified, we will make recommendation and propose an action plan for change.


Marcie Ponte is the Executive Director of Working Women Community Centre Marcie brings 45 years of experience working in non-profit and labour organizations. Marcie’s pioneering work in community development has had at its core the often invisible needs and untapped potential of immigrant women and girls in Toronto’s diverse communities. Marcie has been a leader in the immigrant women’s movement advocating multi-ethnic, multi-racial front-line organizations run by and for immigrant women.

Dr. Sudip Minhas is the Executive Director at Windsor Women Working with Immigrant Women (W5). She has been with W5 for 10 years. She has been on numerous boards including South Asian Center and is currently on the boards of OCASI and Logical Outcomes. She has also taught at the University of Windsor. She is an active member of Local Immigration Partnership having served on the first executive. She has spoken and presented at various forums on Immigration, Settlement and issues of newcomers. Prior to coming to Canada she taught Feminist Theory, Cultural Studies and Identity Politics for 19 years at one of India’s premier universities.

Fatima Filippi has worked in the immigrant and women services sectors since 1982. Fatima is the executive director of Rexdale Women’s Centre that serves more than 12,000 individuals annually. Fatima has worked with culturally diverse staff and boards of Directors' to implement settlement, orientation, English language, crisis intervention, violence against women and children.

The Art of Healing for Personal and Organizational Wellness

The Art of Healing for Personal and Organizational Wellness is perfect to support staff and manager’s efforts to respond effectively to the diverse needs of its clients; whilst experiencing optimal mental, emotional, physical and spiritual health. This workshop gives access to simple concepts that increase awareness and access practical tools & techniques to support real life experiences for frontline worker as they care for the needs of their clients.

This workshop will focus on the implications of ongoing stress by using the ancient healing arts to help mitigate its impact. We offer an integrated approach to Self-stewardship that supports and strengthens the educator’s resilience and sustainability.

Our wrap-around learning approach uses the following training methodologies to meet its objectives:

  • We will utilize a conversational style of instruction, video clips and group activities, body movements, conscious breathing and stretching.

At the end of the series, participants will have:

  • Experienced practical applications of a proven self-awareness model and its importance on self-care (Self-stewardship).
  • Used basic healing arts techniques to minimize stressors by relating to their bodies and their thoughts differently (Mind-body Connection).
  • Experienced the power of movement as a tool for creative expression to release mental, emotional and physical tension and create harmony.


Natasha Eck co-facilitates the various youth programs for SWI as well as a movement specialist for The Art of Healing for Personal and Organizational Wellness. Natasha is a Durham District School Board educator and community arts practitioner - who has created and facilitated creative arts programs for communities locally for well over a decade. She is a York University alumni with a BFA honors in Dance, a Bachelor in Education. Natasha has taught dance, drama and musical theatre workshops for organizations such as; dance Immersion, Arts Starts, Arts Express, Dusk Dances, Canadian Opera Company. Moyo Wa Africa Collective and Wood Green Rites of Passage program. Natasha’s most recent experiences include an artist residency for the TDSB Creates 2018 festival and as a dance specialist for the National Ballet of Canada’s-Sharing Dance Initiative.

Tanika Riley is a graduate of the SLT program within Sacred Women International. Tanika is a community change agent, educator, artist, city-builder and storyteller, who specializes in wellness and leadership using arts based practices. Tanika has a degree in International and Community Development from the University of Toronto and has facilitated workshops in partnerships with youth, students, educational institutions, business, and community organizations all over Ontario, Africa and the Caribbean for the last 15 years. Tanika has worked with every school board in the GTA, and with organizations such as Toronto Community Housing, Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada, and the United Way. Tanika is also a spoken word poet who uses her art within her practice to energize, and awaken the hearts of individuals.

Innovative Models of Settlement Sponsor Collaboration

By signing a sponsorship application, sponsors undertake to provide settlement assistance to sponsored refugees. Having professional expertise, specialized knowledge and access to resources, service providers can play a crucial, complementary role in the initial and long-term settlement journey of sponsored refugee clients.

How can service providers efforts at building closer relationships with refugee sponsors be supported? What are some successful models of service provider-sponsor collaboration that exist today? What would you need to build capacity to foster closer collaboration?

Tackling these questions, the purpose of this workshop is to introduce participants to some of the ways in which organizations have built capacity that supports better service provider-sponsor collaboration. Drawing on OCASI’s recent work with sponsors and service providers, a brief presentation on collaboration best practice principles will be followed with exploration of three successful collaboration case studies from across Ontario.


Louisa Taylor is co-founder and director of Refugee 613, a grassroots coalition of agencies and individuals supporting Ottawa’s response to the global refugee crisis. Refugee 613 helps to inform, connect and inspire residents to improve the settlement and integration of refugees in the national capital. In her past life as an award-winning writer and editor, Louisa’s journalism appeared in the Ottawa Citizen, the Toronto Star and Maclean’s magazine, among others. Louisa is co-chair of Welcoming Ottawa Week, an annual festival of events celebrating Ottawa’s immigrant community, founder of @datafestOTT which explore intersections between migration and new technology, and serves on the Advisory Committee on Social Innovation, which explores new policy ideas in settlement and integration for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

Reclaiming our Space

A facilitated open discussion space to engage with peers on issues of mutual concerns. A space to strategize; or simply (re)claim space.

Beyond the Rainbow: Evaluating Safe Space for Newcomer Asian LGBTQI2S

The objective of this interactive workshop is to share our knowledge of over 20 years working with 1st and 2nd generation East and Southeast Asian LGBTQ+ communities.

We invite participants from immigrant serving agencies to explore and answer these questions:
What does it really mean to be LGBTQ+ friendly?
What does LGBTQ+ safe space mean?

The interactive workshop will include topics such as anti-oppression themed ice breakers, short video presentations (queer Asian youth and Trans 101), coming-out of the closet activity that talks about LGBTQ+ spectrum within cultural context, and gender identity and expressions to explore how homophobia and transphobia looks like in a community setting.
The learning outcome is for participants to have a deeper understanding of safe spaces for newcomer LGBTQ+ that goes beyond putting a rainbow flag sticker as a visible marker and asking clients about their preferred pronouns


Noulmook Sutdhibhasilp has been the Executive Director of ACAS since 2003. She has led a couple of community-based research such as the Migrant Farm Workers sexual health and the Asian Men Pathways to Resiliency Project. She has a PhD in adult education and community development from OISE.

Michael Adia is an MSW with extensive experience providing psychosocial support for LGBTQ+ and racialized communities. He is currently the Program Coordinator for gay men’s health. He has developed, coordinated, and implemented outreach programs for diverse populations (queer youth, Asian gay, bi, other MSM, and trans women) to improve sexual health and overall well-being.

Combating Anti-Black Racism: Strategies to Educate Black Canadians of Immigrant Origin

The goal of this workshop is for participants to learn the use of winning practices to combat anti-Black racism in their communities, workplace, schools and any environments where they can confront this form of racism. At the end of this presentation, participants will be better equipped to understand the origin of the persistence of stereotypes of anti-Black racism and apply winning strategies and practices against anti-Black racism.

The following strategies will be used during the presentation: case studies, small group discussions, analysis and a summary of the most recent studies. Participants will write practical messages for their oral arguments.


Lumembo Tshiswaka was born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lumembo settled with his family in 2002 in Canada. With a background in sociology, demography, statistical technology, survey management and theology, Lumembo has been very active in the francophone communities where he conducted surveys, delivered conferences and even performed as an actor. He worked at OCASI for 8 years and gained a good understanding of anti-racism theory and practice. Lumembo has also travelled around the world to countries in Africa, Europe and the Caribbean, places where he has witnessed firsthand what it means to be a Black person.