Thursday, December 31, 2015

The CIES Chronicle - 2015 Year in Review

2015 was a big year for the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society and the third edition of our newsletter, the CIES Chronicle, offers a look back at the year that was. New leadership, new programs, new initiatives, new partnerships and more made this past year one to remember. Serving as a window into what we as an organization are involved with for staff, instructors, clients, potential clients, partners, funders and stakeholders alike, the CIES 2015 Year in Review offers something for everyone.  Please send us your ideas and suggestions for features and stories in future editions, as we would love to hear from you and enjoy our latest edition of the Chronicle. To download CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

CIES Year End Party

CIES always ends its year with a party for clients and staff alike and this year was one of our best ever! Songs, performances, awards and even a Turkey were given out with the highlight being our little ones from childcare putting on a great show. The pot-luck feast left all pleasantly plump and wonderful time was had by all those in attendance. Thanks to all those who organized, participated and attended and for making the event such a special day! Happy New Year Everyone! For more pics of the event CLICK HERE.

Immigration Outlook for Canada in 2016

A change of government for the first time in nearly a decade along with the Syrian Refugee Crisis has changed the face of Canadian immigration for 2016. Judgement aside of any of Conservative immigration policies, it is safe to say the Harper government made sweeping changes to Canadian immigration that have irrevocably transformed Canada's Immigration Landscape,  With the mandate of Canadians in the form of new Prime Minster Justin Trudeau, different perspectives on immigration now hold the reigns of power in Ottawa.

Traditionally, the Liberal Party of Canada has been the most sympathetic political party in terms of immigration. When current Prime Minster Trudeau's father Pierre Trudeau was in power his mandate in the 70's was an official pledge to support to the Canadian notion of multiculturalism. This meant the integration of newcomers into Canadian society while still encouraging them to maintain their unique identity and culture. Making multiculturalism an official mandate of the Canadian government very much defined Canada as a nation that is accepting of immigrants.

This shift in government simultaneously coming at a time when the world is also witnessing its worst humanitarian crisis since WWII in the form of the mass exodus of Syrians into the global landscape has led to many proposed changes from the Liberal government. These include but are not limited to:

  1. Double the number of immigration applications allowed for parents and grand-parents sponsorship from 5,000 to 10,000 visas per year.
  2. Double the budget for processing family class immigration applications to reduce wait times
  3. Increase points allocation to applicants who have siblings in Canada on their Express Entry application
  4. Lift the visa requirement for Mexican travel to Canada.
  5. Eliminate the $1000 Labour Market Impact Assessment fee for families seeking caregivers to care for family members with physical or mental disabilities.
  6. Restore free access to healthcare for refugee/asylum seekers pending a decision on their case by the government.
  7. Pledge to make it easier for international students to achieve Canadian Citizenship. 
  8. Restore the Canadian Citizenship residency time credit for international students in Canada.
  9. Bypass the two year wait period for “conditional permanent residence” for spouses of sponsored individuals.
  10. Restore the maximum age for dependants from 19 to 22, making it easier for immigrants to bring their older children to Canada.

There are many challenges ahead for the Liberals, but with a majority government and a pledge of a half a billion dollars, changes are coming. Let us see what 2016 brings and as always, CIES will be here for newcomers to Canada, doing whatever we can to help those who have traversed the globe to make Calgary their new home.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

CIES Attends AAISA Training

Yesterday, a few members of the CIES management team attended a professional development session for the Social Return On Investment (SROI). SROI is a principles-based method for measuring  social value not reflected in conventional financial accounts. In other words it monetizes the social change brought on by programs that cannot be directly based on dollars and cents. The session was brought to us by the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA) and conducted by Mark Van Engelen and Seema Jindal of Earth Educators.

Celebrating its 35th anniversary, AAISA is a regionally and nationally recognized leader in the settlement and integration sector. AAISA’s mandate is to build sectoral capacity by providing member agencies that serve newcomers access to relevant and meaningful professional development opportunities, to act as a liaison with stakeholders, and provide a centre for knowledge, expertise, and leadership.In the end, AAISA is a representative, a hub and an amplifier of the settlement and integration sector, providing training, research, and networking opportunities for the settlement and integration sector in order to improve the quality and delivery of their programs.

We here at CIES have utilized the services offered by AAISA many times, services that have impacted our efficiency as an organization we and couldn't be more appreciative of the development and support they supply our sector.

Friday, December 11, 2015

CIES Makes Shoebox Project Drop-Off @ Dream Development

Since the Shoebox project was first brought to our attention, clients and staff put together several shoebox donations. Each shoebox is filled with little luxuries, like hand cream, body spray or soaps, that a woman would enjoy, but cannot afford in difficult times. After collection is finished the boxes are delivered to women in shelters here in Calgary.

While dropping off our beautifully wrapped shoeboxes, we came to know through speaking with Marketing Manager Michael Tandara that Dream Development has donated their time and office space in order to serve as a collection point for the Shoebox Project. 

Since 1997, Dream Development has been successful in developing a number of west side communities in Calgary, for Calgarians. Their team works in partnership with consultants, engineers, planners, and architects, bringing together an array of skills to identify the best solutions to build great communities. 

CIES extends a thank you to our clients and staff who put together 27 shoeboxes, to the Shoebox Project for heading up such a wonderful holiday season initiative, and to Dream Development for volunteering their time and offices to be the Calgary collection point for the project. Such a combined effort shows we can truly make difference when people in the community come together to help those in need. For more photos CLICK HERE. 

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Human Rights Day

All of us here at CIES are taking the time to recognize that today, December 10th is Human Rights Day. Human Rights Day commemorates the day in 1948 when the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. In 1950, the Assembly passed resolution 423 (V), inviting all States and interested organizations to observe 10 December of each year as Human Rights Day.

This year's Human Rights Day is devoted to the launch of a year-long campaign for the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants on Human Rights: the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which were adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 16 December 1966.

CIES will do its part in promoting this United Nations campaign throughout 2016 and together we can make a difference in protecting Human Rights for all.

Who We Are @ CIES

First and foremost we want to thank everyone who entered our “Who We Are” contest. The only must called for was that all entries do their best to capture who we are and what we do. With no strict guidelines in terms of how, seeing the many different visions of the project, be it posters, displays, Power Points, Prezis or videos was truly enjoyable. In the end, the goal was to get staff and clients alike thinking about all the good we do as an organization and all the good our clients do for our community. With that in mind, I would say – mission accomplished,

In the end, CIES provides immigrants and economically challenged individuals with the tools to be successful and active participants in the Calgary community, helping them become productive and successful members of Canadian society. Assisting over a quarter of a million clients in nearly 30 years of service, while continuing to serve more than 1000 clients a day, the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society is about building Calgary, being Calgary and, above all else, about you. For some photos of entries CLICK HERE, to view a Prezi CLICK HERE and to download a Power point CLICK HERE

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Community Investors II - Horizon Housing Society

The second non-profit highlighted in the CIES Community Investors Series is Horizon Housing. The Horizon Housing Society (HHS) has been providing affordable homes to Calgarians in need since 1976. The Society owns and operates nearly 600 units in Calgary with their properties ranging from individual supported homes to multi-family apartment buildings. The type of housing provided helps reduce the stigma, promotes community integration and independent living, while enhancing the quality of life for their tenants.

People living with mental health challenges, brain injuries, and physical disabilities, as well as individuals, seniors and families living below the poverty line, and the working poor - Horizon Housing's tenants come from a varied background. Their goal is to ensure their tenants can enjoy the security, freedom and hope that comes from having a home of one's own, while being surrounded by a community of mutual respect and support.

Prospective tenants come to HHS from one of over 15 referring partner agencies and apply directly through one of these agencies. These agencies then contact Horizon Housing to begin the application process. The average rent on HHS units is nearly 60% lower than the average market rate for a one bedroom in Calgary. Tenancy is governed by the Alberta Residential Tenancy Act (RTA), which regulates the landlord and tenant relationship and any legal matters within that relationship. Before job training, before language assessment, before furthering one's education, before most anything, a roof over our heads is what's needed most. Thank you to Horizon Housing Society for the incredible impact you have on the life of Calgarians and the city of Calgary for the last 40 years. For more information about HHS visit there website. 

Canadian Immigration - A Mutual Need

With the recent refugee crisis many myths about immigrants in general have begun floating around, with social media revealing a lack of awareness. Economically speaking, concepts ranging from them being low-skilled workers to them having difficulty integrating into the labour force are common place.  Taking the time to read through the OECD’s 2013 International Migration Outlook debunks such concepts.

Immigration into Canada is not an altruist affair of government. It is needed for Canada's prosperity. First off, without our regular intake approximately 250,000 immigrants per year (yes that is how many we take each and every year) Canada’s 20 and 44 years old population aged would be in decline.This demographic, makes up most of the Canadian labour force. By extension, this is the demographic buys new houses, has children, creating new household in the process and pays the greater part of Canada's taxation revenue. Canada’s natural population growth would not be enough to sustain economic growth and welfare without immigration. End of story.

Canada needs immigrants to sustain the country’s central demographic and bolster economic growth. In the end, we as Canadians need immigration just as immigrants need a destination such as Canada. Statistics in the image below drive this point home even further,

Monday, December 7, 2015

The Better Angels of Our Nature

Michaelle LeManne Lamb left the then Communist Republic of Czechoslovakia in the mid 80s and immigrated to Canada with her parents and younger brother when she was only 8 years old. The sacrifice made by her parents in order to give her a better life and the acceptance from Canada her family received has never been lost on Michaelle. When her parents came to Canada, they set her life and the life of her own children, her own family, on an entirely different trajectory. By extension, she understands that Canada, as much as it ever has before, stands as a symbol of freedom and a beacon of hope for so many across the world. She knows first hand the impact immigration has and all that it provides.

Since 2008 Michaelle has sponsored a CIES client and their family for the Holiday Season. It is her way of giving back, of remembering, of respecting, of keeping the circle of giving and acceptance complete and flowing. From all of us here at CIES, we would like to express our heartfelt thanks to Michaelle and her family for making a difference in people's lives, for appealing to what Abraham Lincoln refereed to as the better angels of our nature, and being a living embodiment of the change she wants to see in the world. All the best to you and yours and see you next year!

Michaelle with her husband and daughter, dropping off their sponsorship donations at our SE location.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Community Investors I: The Shoebox Project

The first non-profit highlighted in our inaugural Community Investors post is the Shoebox Project. Back in 2011 four sisters-in-law, Caroline Mulroney Lapham and Jessica, along with Vanessa and Katy Mulroney, came up with a unique and simple idea. They were looking for a hands-on way to give back to the community and started by asking people they knew to get a shoebox, decorate it, and fill it with little extras, small luxuries if you will, and then delivered them to women in need.

Each shoebox is filled with items valued at up $50 that a woman would enjoy, but cannot afford in difficult times. These colourful little boxes add joy to the holiday season. In their first year they delivered 156 shoe-boxes. Last year, just three years later and thanks to the generosity of so many, they delivered over 17,000.

The mission of the Shoebox Project is to "brighten the days of women living in our country's shelters and let them know that their community does care about them. Further still, those behind the project state,"We hope that those who have been inspired to participate will gain a deeper understanding of abuse, poverty, and mental illness - all factors contributing to women's homelessness in North America."

CIES clients and staff will be putting together shoeboxes and dropping them off at the Calgary location - ​1167 Kensington Crescent N.W. Suite 100. The Shoebox Project collects and distributes gifts to women in shelters across the United States and Canada. For more information watch the video below or CLICK HERE to visit their website.