Friday, June 26, 2015

CIES Re-Launches Website

As CIES moves into its 28th year of existence, we continue to search for the best ways to serve our clients and the community of Calgary. CIES has been online since 2004 and its website has gone through a variety of changes in that time. Our most recent upgrade however comes with a first.

Our first upgrade and redesign in three years was done entirely in house. As the use of technology and social media more and more simply become a part of daily life in the 21st century,  the team at CIES is now stocked with highly capable and creative web designers, graphic artists and techno-files. This also means all future changes, upgrades, redesigns and add-ons will be done by CIES and no longer will be outsourced.  Additionally, CIES is now channelling its technical capabilities into developing more on-line course work and we are excited at the direction we are headed. 

Lastly, the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society is one organization with two locations, in both Whitehorn and Forest Lawn. Previously our NE location and our SE location each had their own site, but no longer. All information on both locations is now combined into a single website, with programs offered at either both or one location clearly laid out for all to see.  The slick, modern, and user friendly new interface (which allows clients to easily register on-line) is now very much representative of CIES, that being both our technological capabilities and our constant striving to provide our clients with the most up-to-date services and support. 

Check out our new site by CLICKING HERE.  

Thursday, June 25, 2015

CIES: Who We Are - Part I

A huge part of what makes CIES possible are the many volunteers who work with us daily to best serve the community of Calgary. In part 1 of our original 7 part series "Who We Are" we talk to Ms. Rabail Qasir, volunteer Drop in ESL teacher at our SE Location in Forest Lawn.  

A great way to learn about different cultures and help others is to volunteer with an organization like CIES. The benefits of volunteering work both ways and often it is the volunteer who gets more out of donating his or her time and effort. Volunteering means establishing great connections, building your career, and supplies a sense of purpose. Additionally  Psychology Today even claims that those who  regularly volunteer live longer and healthier lives. In the end, Rabail speaks to much of this and her story is very much our own. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The CIES Annual General Meeting

Last night at our NE location in Whitehorn, CIES held its 27th annual general meeting. The evening was a great success and a result of the hard work and dedication of literally hundreds of people. The highlight of the night were the stories as told by our clients, those immigrants who come to Canada in search of better life. Without them we would not be here. CIES too has its own story, and although many know it, some will not... here it is in a nutshell.

The Calgary Immigrant Educational Society is a non profit registered charity established in 1988 with one primary goal: to provide Calgary immigrants and economically disadvantaged individuals with a solid foothold in Canada and afford them the opportunities to grow into productive and confident Canadians.  C.I.E.S. is governed by a Board of Directors made up of devoted community minded volunteers and operates through funding from both government and private organizations. From our humble beginnings, C.I.E.S. has grown from 5 volunteers in a single office to an employer of about 90 dedicated staff members and over 100 volunteers. C.I.E.S. now operates and is in ownership of both a 15,000 square foot main office building in Calgary’s SE Forest Lawn district and a 22,000 square foot branch building in Calgary’s NE Whitethorn district. Since its inception, C.I.E.S. has assisted nearly a quarter of million clients to strengthen their identities as members of Alberta society, offering services valued at tens of millions of dollars.

And now, our story continues...

For Photos of last night's great event, just CLICK HERE

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

CIES @ Great in Greater Forest Lawn

The artBOX hosted "Great in Greater Forest Lawn today," a promotion run by the International Avenue Business Revitalization Zone.The concept was for people to pitch ways to improve Forest Lawn with little restriction as to how. Creativity was the name of the game. The winning pitches would receive funding to help get their projects up and running. The event brought the Forest Lawn community together and stressed the amount of potential the district of our city holds. 

Our very own Diana Katsnelson, CLB 6/7 instructor from our NE location, and her pitch for the "little free library", a give a book, take a book drop box was selected as a winner. Great job Diana! And a special thanks to Allison and the BRZ, a great organization CIES is proud to support in its cause. For more pictures of the event CLICK HERE. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

We're Back with a Quick Tease @ CIES

After a very busy and exciting week preparing for our annual general meeting we are back online. Now it's to back to regularly scheduled programming!  Amongst other items, over the coming days we will share with you a series a videos produced that speak to the heart of CIES; the people and their stories that make us who we are. A quick teaser can be seen below!


The Calgary Immigrant Educational Society's Annual General Report is now completed. This will be followed by tomorrow's CIES annual general meeting (AGM). The purpose of our AGM is to give members a report on our activities and finances for the previous year, to allow time for members to ask questions, and to elect members of our governing body for the coming year.  Our NE location in Whitehorn is the site of this year's meeting and we are all looking forward to gathering and sharing. You can download a copy of this year's AGM Report HERE. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Summer Festival @ CIES

The Calgary Immigrant Educational Society (C.I.E.S.) will be hosting its 5th Annual Summer Festival on August 25, 2015 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. at the artBOX on 17th avenue SE. The theme for this year's festival would be "Celebrating Diversity". All our welcome so be sure to come on down!

Event Objectives

  • Inform the local communities about the city of Calgary's ever-growing cultural diversity 
  • Help the attendees gain valuable insights into their own as well as other communities
  • Celebrate the true essence of our Canadian multiculturalism and diversity and enjoy the richness that it provides
  • Embrace our social democracy and cohesion
  • Provide our clients/students with a platform to represent their various cultures and traditions and work together with their peers and teachers to plan activities that promote multiculturalism
  • Provide our clients (newcomers to Canada) with the opportunity to learn about core Canadian values
  • Provide mainstream local Canadians with an opportunity to learn about and appreciate newcomers’ diverse cultures

Monday, June 8, 2015

Peer-to-Peer Observations @ CIES

At C.I.E.S. we do our best to share best practices and our top notch teachers lead the way. A new initiative for 2015, March saw the launch of the Peer-to-Peer observation program. Peer observation has been incorporated into orientation and training for all newly arriving teachers at C.I.E.S. and is and exciting opportunity for LINC instructors to see the wonderfully diverse landscape that is teaching English as a second language. Long serving teachers have also gotten involved in the program, watching other veteran instructors in the classroom to get new ideas and fresh perspectives.

The program has also served to link our two locations and strengthen the sense of CIES culture, with teaches travelling between our NE and SE locations to observe classes. Pictured are two of our most senior teachers - Diana Katsnelson (left) and Jana Ciobanu (right). Jana has been with us for 7 years and Diana going on 6 years, but both still strive for new ideas and the Peer-to-Peer Observation program provides them with the opportunity. Diana travelled from our NE location in Whitehorn to our to out Forest Lawn location today to observe Jana's class. The key aspect of the program can be seen below and a link to our FAQ on the Peer-to-Peer Initiative can be downloaded here.

"Peer-to-peer observation is a professionally supportive exchange, minus the intent to judge. The growth in trust and respect that comes from sharing ideas and skills in such a manner can truly help all involved, as well as fostering an overall positive effect on the atmosphere of the school. It’s very beneficial to talk through an experience with a person who can both empathize and understand in a way only a fellow teacher can. 
Experienced teachers are often surprised when their peers identify their strengths; many even think that what they do well is little more than routine and not worthy of commendation. This is why peer-to-peer observation, at its most fundamental level, is about encouragement and support."

Thursday, June 4, 2015

University of Lethbridge students Visit CIES

Not for profit organizations play a vital role in Canadian society yet, in comparison to the for profit sector, are not studied to a large degree in many business schools. Three students from U of L visited or SE location this week as a part of a course entitled "Managing Not-for-Profit Organizations" in order to conduct research for their project. This course provides students with an introduction to current information relating to the major management issues that not for profit organizations confront in their pursuit to be both effective and caring organizations.

Course objectives include: 

a) to introduce students to the key management issues facing not for profit organizations, and to develop skills to effectively manage these issues
b) to contrast the foundation and application of management concepts between the for profit and not for profit sectors
c) to gain an appreciation for the work of not for profit organizations, as well as the contribution these organizations make to society

Whether through voluntarism or research, CIES is actively connected with the student community and is always happy to help those looking to grow and learn about the international community in Calgary, education and the non-profit industry. Pictured below, from left to right, are Victoria Lam, Omeed Ahadi and Swetha Laguduva. If you are interested to learn more about the U of L course our guests are currently enrolled in, you can download a copy of their course outline here. Glad to help guys and come back any time. Best of luck with finals!

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Calgary Mayor Nenshi Supports CIES

CIES will be hosting its 5th Annual Summer Festival on August 25, 2015 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The festival will be held at the artBOX on Calgary's International Avenue. The theme for this year's festival will be Celebrating Diversity. We expect to have as many as 500 attendees that will include clients, the general public, government representatives, funders, community partners, along with CIES staff and volunteers. A truly international organization, the CIES Summer Festival will promote multiculturalism, and connect different cultural and faith groups, as well as build and strengthen relationships among communities here in the great City of Calgary. 

Upon informing the Office of the Mayor, Mayor Nenshi himself offered his support of the festival along with his praise for CIES as an important organization to the Calgary Community.  His words are below and we couldn't be more thankful for his support. Details of our Celebrating Diversity Summer Festival are coming soon! 

On behalf of the citizens of Calgary and my City Council colleagues, it is my pleasure to welcome you to the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society Summer Festival – Celebrating Diversity. 
Calgary is a vibrant and welcoming city, and it is a place that many people from all over the world have chosen to call home. This festival provides an opportunity to celebrate the fact that, while we may come from many diverse backgrounds, we are more the same than we are different. As participants share their cultural traditions with each other, we can move toward a common understanding that will create an even stronger community. Since 1988, the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society has helped more than 200,000 newcomers adjust to life in our city, and for that they must be recognized. 
I commend the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society for all that they do year round, and especially for bringing us together to demonstrate just how valuable their contribution is. 
Naheed K Nenshi

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


CIES is firmly entrenched in the Calgary community as a leader in building and maintaining partnerships that serve both our clients and the city of Calgary. The Calgary Workers' Resource Centre (CWRC) is a charitable organization  funded by the United Way of Calgary and Area, the Alberta Law Foundation and donations from individuals and organizations that are concerned about the well-being and quality of life of working people in Alberta. The CWRC has three main programs -- its Case Work program, and its Employment Rights, Obligations, Benefits Education and the New Alberta Worker (NAW) program.

On Monday, Community Outreach and Cultural Broker, Candace Martens visited CIES to conduct a workshop on occupational health and safety. Candace has been coming to CIES for more than 5 years informing our clients on a number of topics during that time, ranging from WCB claims to Employment Insurance. Candace takes great satisfaction  in enlightening people of their rights and is extremely proud of CWRC`s advocacy in the community. Last year alone CWRC was responsible for assuring more than 4 million dollars was rightfully placed in the hands of Calgary workers.

It is people like Candace that make CIES possible. We salute her long term service and CWRC for providing us with her expert knowledge. See you next term Candace!

For more information on CWRC visit their website call 403-264-8117 or download their brochure HERE.

Monday, June 1, 2015

CIES Feild Trip - The Devonian Gardens

The Calgary Immigrant Education Society wants all learners who pass through their doors to have an educational experience that is as a well rounded as possible. That is why field trips are an important dimension to the Society's learning process. Our field trips expose newcomers from everything to Canadian history to practical shopping habits to simply great places to spend time in our great city and are a regular part of the C.I.E.S. experience.

Devonian Gardens is a large indoor park and botanical garden located in the downtown core of Calgary. The park recently re-opened after a major $37-million renovation.
Located on the Stephen Avenue pedestrian mall (8 Avenue SW) between 2 Street SW and 3 Street SW, the park is completely enclosed with glass and covers 2.5 acres (one full city block) on the top floor of The Core Shopping Centre (formerly TD Square). It is maintained by The City of Calgary Parks.

The gardens include a living wall, koi ponds, fountains, a children's play area, and over 550 trees, as well as meeting/function space for special events. A full service restaurant is also planned.

On Thursday evening (May 28th) the CLB3 evening class joined up with the CLB6 class for a downtown field trip to the Devonian Gardens.Many of the students from both classes knew each other. For more pictures of their visit CLICK HERE. 

So... where should our next CIES field trip be? Any suggestions?