WoodGreen ESL instructor Emilija Nikolic
80 Years 1937-2017
WoodGreen ESL instructor Emilija Nikolic works with a tablet as a learning tool in the classroom.

Newcomer Services provide comprehensive support to ease the settlement journey

WoodGreen’s innovative programs and partnerships support 8,000 newcomers across Toronto each year.

WoodGreen’s Newcomer Services has been adapting to the changing needs of newcomers to Canada for 40 years. When the Syrian refugee crisis arose, we responded by guiding both private sponsors and refugees through the process. The H.O.M.E portal, an online resource connecting refugees with offers of housing, goods and services was up and running in 6 weeks. In partnership with the Red Cross, we worked to reduce the prevalence of social isolation for refugees living in hotels by organizing recreational trips to get to know Toronto.

The settlement journey comes with its own unique set of challenges for young people. A soccer league was established for newcomer youth, supported by a grant from the MLSE Foundation. The soccer league brings together youth ages 13 – 24 from all backgrounds, providing a platform to forge friendships and connect through sport.

We have partnerships with local libraries and satellite locations to reach newcomers in places that are convenient for them. Technology has also played an important role in connecting with more people – the Community Connections program offers online learning and webinars. In a new partnership with Rumie, tablets were acquired and are used as a learning tool in the Enhanced English Language Training program.

"I have been in Canada for almost 3 years. I come from North Africa country speaking essentially Arabic and French. WoodGreen helped me by improving my English. It was very helpful also meeting with people like me, new immigrants. I stopped to feel alone in this new country. With my classmates, we share interests and information. The WoodGreen child care service is very useful too. It allows me being in class and keeping my children at the same location. I finally got a job when I was at WoodGreen with the help of people there!"

- Zahiwa from Algeria

WoodGreen Newcomer Services Management Team
WoodGreen Newcomer Services Management Team: Amanda Choo, Kay Brenders (standing) Gwim Philip, John Viktorin (seated) Missing: Lenard See

Our success is owed to our dedicated staff and volunteers but also to their entrepreneurial spirit in cultivating partnerships not only within and across the organization but also in reaching out to other organizations to broaden our reach. We are an integral part of the Toronto South Local Immigration Partnership (TSLIP), focused on developing and implementing local settlement strategies that coordinate and enhance service delivery to newcomers while promoting innovation and efficient use of resources.

We are also one of ten members of the Consortium of Agencies Serving Internationally-trained Persons (CASIP), a group of independent, community-based agencies and colleges who deliver employment and training services to skilled immigrants, and job seekers to employers. The express purpose is to drive innovation, advocacy and excellence through strategic partnerships and broader networks, resulting in greater impact and better outcomes for clients.

The innovation doesn’t end there or only occur externally. Newcomer Services is in the process of integrating with WoodGreen’s Workforce Development and Homeward Bound units to provide true wrap-around service, through a one-window approach, in order to enhance the client experience and realize efficiencies while eliminating duplication. Like the clients we serve, we too, are beginning a new and exciting journey.