Monday, February 29, 2016

CIES Clothing Drive

In the face of a national economic recession, it is important for all citizens to help bolster families and neighbourhoods struck by adversity. Families right here in Calgary and across the country find themselves in transition and could use your help to meet their most immediate needs. From February 29th to March 4th CIES is holding its first Clothing Drive of 2016.

Take a look through your closet and pull out that shirt you haven't worn since 2009, those jeans that don't fit any more, the shoes stuck way in the back that haven't seen daylight in years, or those hats that just don't match your latest fashion statements and bring them on down to either of our locations - 1723 40th Street SE or 3820 32nd Street NE. Any extra clothes/accessories at the end of the drive will be donated to Salvation Army.

Friday, February 26, 2016

CIES Newcomers Resource Fair a Great Success

After two days of information, sharing and networking our first annual Newcomers Resource Fair was no less than a great success. We would like to send a special thank you to all partner organizations from across the city for helping us promote the many services and opportunities available to new immigrants living in Calgary. The event, held once on February 24th, at our SE location in Forest Lawn and again on February 25th at our NE Location in Whitehorn, was very much about the community of Calgary. All those who attended benefited greatly from the collaborative effort of all involved, pointing those who need assistance, advice and information in the best possible directions. A big thank you to to Colin Campbell and Tayebeh Shalmani, our LINC supervisors, for doing a great job of coordinating the event at each of our locations. Last but certainly not least, all for us here at CIES would like to send out a very special thank you to Jovita Dias, Immigrant Legal Education Specialist for the Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary, whose contributions to the event made it the great success that it was. For more photos of the event CLICK HERE.


Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Only Drop-In ESL Program of Its Kind in Calgary Gets Upgrades All Around

Perhaps the most unique and accessible of all our programs, CIES has been delivering its one of kind Drop-In ESL Program since 1988. Last year we served over four hundred clients from 66 countries with the program and clients consistently say the structure allows them to improve their overall communicative competence and work on their language skills in a flexible way, despite their other commitments. Funded by Alberta Human Services, it is one of our few programs even open to Canadian citizens.

Even though these ESL classes are run on a drop-in basis, a high standard of classroom instruction is maintained and volunteer tutors are central to the program. All 28 Drop-In ESL classes we offer each week are taught by enthusiastic and dedicated volunteer tutors. Last year 76 people donated over 4,100 hours of time, both in and out of the traditional classroom setting.

Training workshops are held throughout the year for our volunteer tutors. These workshops also allow volunteers to meet with each other and discuss any concerns they may have. There are also Volunteer ESL (VESL) workshops available organized by Bow Valley College and partner organizations.

That said. with nearly 30 years of success behind the program, it was time to modernize and upgrade. Over just the last few weeks, a curriculum developer was hired to update and spruce up our content and delivery, an in depth volunteer training manual was drawn up from scratch, providing break downs of each and every lesson, as well as key performance indicators and the expected learning outcomes. Full renovations to classrooms, with new tables and chairs for all, a wide array of technological upgrades, such as new laptops and tablets, along with software upgrades like Pronunciation Power and Chrome Cast have also been incorporated. Now up to 21st century speed, our flagship program can continue for 30 years more!  Below is a brief sample of the video portion of the Volunteer Training Manual provided to all those who teach within the program. More than a dozen lesson portions around 2 minutes in length are modelled by an experienced LINC instructor in order to provide a tangible look inside the CIES Classroom. The video below is an example of an ice-breaker for use at the start of a class. For more information about the Drop-In Program, watch the second video below.

Anti-Racism Film Festival - A Timely Event

Recent hate speech targeting Syrians and Muslims, as well as Prime Minister Trudeau, written on the walls of a local high school and at a transit station here in Calgary drive home the importance of the city's upcoming Anti-Racism Film Festival.

It is this atmosphere of wariness applied by many to refugees and to those who support them, up to and including PM Justin Trudeau, that brings with it the potential for moral decline here in Canada. I see the United States as in decline in terms of its moral base, a base that once guided the world. Canada and it’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, has replaced the American Bill of Rights as the constitutional document most emulated by other nations around the globe. The ugly nature of politics within the country since Obama’s election to the office of President and now as it comes to its end in the wake of the seemingly implausible Donald Trump run for the Presidency, has also revealed that racism and prejudice is an issue far from being settled.

I recently came across an interesting web video that touches upon these very ideals. Its contrasting of visuals with audio taken from the Media is powerful indeed. Short bursts of importance and passion like this one make us look forward to the Film Festival on March 21st at the John Dutton Theatre.

Calgary's William Hanson High School February 22, 2016

Tuesday, February 23, 2016


The ninth non-profit highlighted in the CIES Community Investors Series is Families Matter. Families Matter is Calgary’s premier parenting education organization facilitating change that strengthens families resulting in healthy futures for children and their caregivers. Their mission provides parenting education resulting in healthy child development and confident and competent parents who are connected within their communities

In the end, our family contains the most important people in our lives and exists as a microcosm of society.  People learn to consider others, accept authority, be responsible, and attend to family members who need care. Instilling values on the family level ensures that these values are intrinsic to a society. Further still, children should be the most important people in the lives of people both right here in our great city and all around the world. Too many times parents have children and come into conflict with the fact their lives must change and decisions should be made in terms of what is best for the children. This is not always the easy or popular decision, but this leads children to become stronger, healthier, and happier. This in turn has the same effect upon society as whole.

Families Matter is committed to strengthening families through life’s many transitions. One way they accomplish this mission is by scouring the seemingly infinite choices of programs, services and resources and selecting those we feel offer the very best learning opportunities and make them available to all Calgarians. They also recognize that families come in many sizes, face many challenges and opportunities and span the full spectrum of life’s many stages and ages -- from babies to grandparents. To address these needs, they continuously develop their curriculum and add to their list of education partners.

Families Matter want family members to confidently communicate, be accountable and respectful with their language, with their parents, siblings and peers. Families Matter want parents to parents routinely model effective ways of problem solving with their children in ways that build self-esteem. Imagine how well society would function if this was the normal way of being?

CIES extends its full support and gratitude for the contribution Families Matter makes to the city of Calgary and sends a big thank you for the important service you provide. For more information, along with volunteer and career opportunities, please visit their website.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Calgary Jobs, Information and Training

CIES always does our best to stay plugged into the Calgary community. so you can be too. From Day one CIES has always believed that strong community partnerships are the best way to have both a meaningful and sustainable impact on the life of immigrants here in Calgary.  We are affiliated with a number of key organizations throughout the city and this expansive network allows us to stay informed on your behalf. Below is a list of upcoming opportunities for a wide range of skills sets and experience levels to improve your skills, network and submit resumes for employment. Click on the provided posters for more details.

  • Immigrant Services Calgary will be hosting a Recruitment Fair on February 26, 2016 from 1p.m. to 4p.m.  
  • McBride Career Group in Okotoks is holding their 7th Annual Career and Employment Expo on March 3, 2016 from 1p.m. to 7p.m.  

  • Join Immigrant Services Calgary for an Information Session on February 25 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. on how to advance your language, education, and career goals.  

  • Growth 4 U is currently recruiting participants for their employment program.  

CIES to Attend Calgary's Anti-Racism Film Festival

Many of us will live out our entire lives without ever truly experiencing being unlike all those with which we surround ourselves. It’s hard for many to understand what it’s like to walk into a room and have everyone take notice of our presence simply for being the only one. To fathom the self-image born from being a member of what society calls a minority can be very complicated for those standing amidst the towering forest of the status quo. Perhaps most importantly, it’s difficult to comprehend the enveloping sense of judgement and conversely, the tremendous feeling of solidarity amongst the membership of a societal out-group.

In response to this, the Canadian Cultural Mosaic Foundation is pleased to invite all Calgarians to attend the first ever 48-hour-Anti-Racism Film Festival. The red carpet event will take place on Monday, March 21, 2016, the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, most often called End Racism Day. The gala begins at 6pm and will showcase the completed films in downtown Calgary at the John Dutton Theatre.  The competition has not been restricted to professionals and encouraged anyone with a passion to participate. Whether a cell phone camera or a professional DSLR, editing software in an app or a professional dashboard, all ideas were welcomed. The top submissions will be shown on March 21st, all will be 2-5 minutes in length, and related to the subject of racial discrimination

The concepts of race and the marginalization it can bring appears to have doubled down when we look to the south these days. Here in Canada, the refugee crisis has revealed some of the same, That being said, this is, unfortunately, par for the course for humanity as throughout human history race has been humanity's most defining characteristic. By extension, race has consistently produced powerful forms of judgement and continues to do so today. Although the concept of race scientifically does not exist and is purely a social phenomenon, the social reality of race permeates every part of human life. More than anything, visible immediacy perpetuates its superiority as a master status and the lines of racial division are systemically ingrained within our thought patterns from the moment we join the empirical rabble of humankind.

Whether it’s been random or evolutionary adjustments to the environment, the fact is that the physical disparity amongst us is due to genetic mutation. In the days before global or even continental travel, isolated gene pools created common ancestries with similar traits, and even communal diseases, but never has there been a sub-species to the human race. Nevertheless, race is unquestionably a very significant part of our lives and is repeatedly used to explain such cultural nuances as skin colour, ethnicity, values, traditions, or ancestry.

Pre-conceived notions and socially conditioned images of race are downloaded onto the human psyche via television, music, film, and the ever-manipulative mass media. By the time children reach their tenth birthdays, the socially constructed images of Black, White, Indian, Asian, or Arabic have been fully installed and are an integral part of the massive hard drive that is our subconscious mind. With the music and film industries working as system engineers for the youth of every generation passed, one can begin to see the fateful stereotypes that shape the minds of today’s youth in preparation for adulthood within the walls of the Western World and beyond. Whether it’s the White angry banger bands or the even whiter super-hero, the Black pimp daddy hip-hop bands or the blacker still foul mouthed criminal, ideas of what it means to be Black or White are ingested constantly. Further still, whether it’s the cerebral Asian computer geek, the scheming Arab terrorist, or the money loving Jew, a pre-determined and entirely misleading range of archetypal racial images rain down upon us from all sides and its time to call such social conditioning our for what it is - racism.

This spring be sure to recognize End Racism Day March 21st, talk about it, get it out there and be sure to book your tickets to Calgary's first ever Anti-Racism Film Festival.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Canada Revenue Agency Phone Scam

Phone scams have been around for almost as long as there have been phones, but the advent and rapid dissemination of technology has made them easier to produce and more convincing. With tax season upon us, the Canada Revenue agency phone scam is once again circulating Calgary and across the country.. What often plays out is that your hone rings and a recorded and automated voice message tells you that an arrest warrant has been issued in yuor name and that the police will be coming to your home. This is followed by a number for you to call, at which point they will aggressively tell yo you must send money to avoid arrest.

According top Global TV, in 2015 5,000 complaints across Canada were filed with victims losing $700,000 – that includes almost 400 people in Quebec who lost a combined $42,000. That being said, only about five per cent of fraud victims actually report the fraud, and those numbers are just the tip of the iceberg.Further still. newcomers to Canada in the form of refugees or immigrants are prime targets for such scams due to their lack of knowledge on the Canadian tax system and at times, the language barrier.

Bottom line, taxpayers should know how the CRA works – they send letters in the mail first if there are any tax issues and they will send several follow up letters. Further still, they never threaten to send in the police and would never ask for payment through a money transfer service like Western Union or Moneygram.

The RCMP said if people are concerned about a possible phone scam, they should call the CRA at 1-800-959-8281.We have had a number of our clients here at CIES receive calls and with that in mind this post not only brings awareness, but provides a great way to protect yourself using 411 Reverse look up which can be seen in the video below. The video includes a recording of an actual phone call scam received by one of our own staff CIES staff members, so be sure to take a look and pass this along to others!

CIES Family Tree - Colyn deGraaff

Having been around for nearly three decades, serving a quarter of million clients in that time and employed hundreds of people over the years and our extended family is, in fact, quite extensive. We are also a society that currently employs approximately 80 Calgarians, along with a roster of more than 100 volunteers, and a daily client roster of 1000 clients. In other words, our current family is very sizeable on its own. Colyn deGraaff, resident web master and LINC Home Study Coordinator is one of our many faces of CIES today.

Born in Calgary, Colyn earned his Bachelor degree from St. Mary’s University and worked in the Calgary’s theatre industry for over ten years before joining the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society in 2012. A published short‐story author and public speaker, Colyn conducted a cross-country study of Canadian arts and culture, travelling coast‐to‐coast (Victoria, BC, to Meat Cove, NS) to over 30 Canadian cities where he provided coverage on fringe festivals, concerts, and galleries. Earning a greater appreciation of Canadian identity during his travels, he returned to Calgary and joined the C.I.E.S. LINC department as its web designer and program coordinator where he supervised the launch of the LINC Home Study program. CIES very own resident Movie Buff and comic aficionado,  Colyn was married in August 2014 and lives at home with his wife and two dogs.

The LINC Home Study Program is vital to CIES and Colyn has worked diligently to keep things running top notch since the beginning. As you will well know, not every student can attend LINC classes. Some are prevented from attending due to illness, disability, conflicting work schedules, or distance. For these students, CIES provides the LINC Home Study program. There are two parts to LINC Home Study: first, students complete exercises and activities online each day on the LINC Home Study website, a digital version of the in-class curriculum developed specifically for at-home students. Students can log on any time and work through the online classes to complete their learning objectives. Secondly, students are paired with a LINC Home Study instructor who monitors and encourages their growth. Students receive a weekly phone-call (or Skype!) from their instructor which lays out the week's activities, assign and discuss homework, and answer additional questions.Through LINC Home Study, students are provided with online learning modules, exercises, voice and text lessons, individualized lesson plans, and links to language and community resources.

Colyn has led the CIES LINC Home Study program to some of the best overall improvement scores in the country significantly ahead of national averages across Canada. He has been an innovator since day one with CIES and we are lucky to have him on board.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

CIES Events - Newcomer Resource Fair

Here at CIES we strongly believe that ethno-cultural community organizations play important role in settlement and integration sector and as a result we are always searching ways to better serve the immigrant community.With this in mind we are holding our first annual Newcomer Resource Fair.

As highlighted by our Community Investor Series, at the heart of this event is our belief that the non-profit sector is an important contributor to the economic health and vitality of Calgary. All of us here at CIES strive towards collaboration with our non-profit family, as in the end we are all here to help those who need it most, and by extension, help in making Calgary the best city in can possibly be for all who live here.

Join us and partner organizations from across the city as we promote the services and opportunities available to new immigrants living in Calgary. This event is free of charge, is open to all members of the community and we be held twice, once on February 24th, (11:30 am to 3:00 pm) at our SE location in Forest Lawn and again on February 25th (11:30 am to 3:00 pm) at our NE Location in Whitehorn.

Just some of the service providers in attendance include:
  • Calgary Police Services 
  • Immigrant Access Fund 
  • Calgary Bridge Foundation for Youth 
  • Calgary Public Library 
  • Making Changes/Walk in Closet 
  • Inform 211 (Services for newcomers) 
  • YWCA Shelter for women 
  • The Elizabeth Fry Society of Calgary 
  • 311 City of Calgary – Fee Assistance Fair Entry Program 
  • Calgary Workers Resource Centre CWRC 
  • Alberta Health Services
  • Calgary Housing
  • RBC
  • ATB
  • University of Lethbridge – Calgary Campus

As mentioned the event is free of charge but to register your attendance at either the NE or SE event simply CLICK HERE for our SE Forest Lawn location on February 24th and CLICK HERE for our NE Whitehorn Location on the February 25th. If you have any questions or would like to participate in any way please feel free to give us a call any time at either 403-235-3666 or 402-291-0002, 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

CIES Family Tree - Kuldip Dhillon

Courtesy of International Avenue's BRZ

Once a part of the CIES family, always be part of the CIES family. Having been around for nearly three decades and serving a quarter of million clients over that time, not to mention the thousands of volunteers and hundreds of employees that have been with us over nearly 30 years, and our extended family is a force to be reckoned with here in our city. Kuldip Dhillon is one such story having volunteered with CIES some 20 years ago, way back when we were known as Calgary I.D.E.A.S.

Having lived in Canada for the past 40 years, Kuldip Dhillon has seen her fair share of recessions. But the owner of Skylark Restaurant has a simple philosophy for dealing with the ups and downs of the economy... “Always hope for the best. Always think positive and everything will fall into place. Just keep working.”

And that’s just what she did. After coming to Canada with a B. ED (Home Economics) and a Masters degree in Political Science from her native India, Kuldip started on a career in banking in Saskatchewan. Upon moving to Calgary she obtained an ESL diploma and did volunteer work with Calgary Ideas. But there was something else that she wanted.

“It was always in my mind to have a restaurant,” she says. “Cooking is my passion. I think it’s in my blood.”

So when her friend Naresh saw a restaurant for sale on International Avenue, they formed a partnership that was to last a quarter century. Skylark Restaurant allowed Kuldip to mix her passion for cooking with her ambition to be a business owner. The restaurant specializes in East Indian (Punjabi) cuisine, home-made using Kuldip’s own recipes. Kuldip, however, always asks her customers how spicy they would like their food... a simple act which she believes keeps them coming back.

“I always ask people how they would like their food... from mild to extra hot. Otherwise they wouldn’t enjoy it. I still have customers from 27-years ago.”

Among the many dishes that help keep customers coming back are her famous butter chicken (her best seller), as well as tikka masala (boneless chicken cooked with bell peppers, onions, tomato sauce and spices), malai kofta (veggie balls), kadahi paneer (Indian-style cheese cooked with bell peppers, onions and Indian spices), Tandoori chicken, pakoras, samosas... the list goes on and on. A great way to get a taste of some of the variety available is to sample the Tuesday through Friday lunch buffet, complete with butter chicken and kheer (rice pudding) for desert!

In addition to offering a huge variety of menu items six days a week, Skylark also specializes in East Indian sweets, including burfis (a dense, milk-based confectionery), gulab jamun (round balls made with cheese and milk, deep fried and dipped in syrup then served warm), milk cake, jelabi and more.
And if this wasn’t enough, Skylark also offers catering services. The restaurant also does a large number of Indian weddings, well known for the huge number of dishes on offer to the family and guests. Butter chicken, chicken curry, goat curry malai kofta, kadahi paneer, shahi paneer (vegetarian), dal makhni (black beans cooked with spices, ginger, garlic, onions, garnished with butter and cilantro), pakoras, samosas, fish dishes, chai, juices, sweets and many other items go into catering weddings with often several hundred guests.

One might think that Kuldip (literally) has enough on her plate. But in addition to all these demands, she also wants to take courses in payroll and bartending to enhance her business.

Although her business partner, Naresh, left the business to pursue other opportunities after 25 years, Kuldip has continued on, loving what she is doing, with no plans to go anywhere else.

“I love this area. I lived here for 13 years,” she says. “My mother still lives here.
“I have never had any problems in 27 years. The people here are good people. I will never leave this place.”

Skylark is located at #15, 5315 17 Ave SE and is open Tuesday through Sunday. Check their website at for hours and menu items.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Major-Minor Music Project

CIES' very own Graham Mackenzie, in association with International Avenue's Business Revitalization Zone, is spearheading an absolutely great project right here in Forest Lawn. Music is as cultural relevant as it gets in terms of the arts here in Canada, but pricey tickets and over 18 venues often leave many unable to take in shows across the city. This simple truth was the inspiration for the Major-Minor Music Project.

Major Minor is an all-ages volunteer-fueled music and arts event organization. By engaging participants at all levels of music production and community organizing, Major Minor fulfils its mission to foster a participatory creative culture through popular music concerts, arts programs, experiential learning and volunteer opportunities for all ages, especially young people. Major Minor’s programs are always all ages, with a focus on young people ages 14 to 24 and new Canadians. The programs are in the artBOX, a perfectly suited, character rich community venue in the heart of Forest Lawn.

Monthly concerts promote artistic experimentation and excellence in a professional setting, leveraging industry-standard technology to showcase music and arts. Events fuse with experiential learning opportunities and a volunteer-driven structure that engages young people and new Canadians in the arts, fosters inter-generational communication and gives constituents the skills necessary to pursue their creative and professional passions. The skills participants gain at Major Minor activate future creativity, careers and leadership within the greater creative community. Major Minor engages in the arts, develops the future of the music industry and supports a vibrant Calgary culture. The First gig is February 27th @ the artBOX on 17E. Details below and see you there!

The Future is Now - Ahlain Video Productions

If it were only 3 years from now, would you be reading this article or would you be watching it? As it is an irrefutable fact online video continues to rise, it is a legitimate question to ask.

By 2017, video will account for 69% of all consumer internet traffic, according to Cisco. Going through the endless statistics available on the subject, one is hard pressed to find any indicator other than those that point to rapid growth. With online video becoming a key means for people to satisfy their information and entertainment needs, anyone, from small businesses to non profits, that fails to include it as a part of their on-line presence does so at their own peril. To begin with, a 3 to 4 minute video can communicate 10 or more pages of text and can do so in a far more compelling and connective way. Most importantly, it is simply become how people acquire information in today's world and with this in mind, we here at CIES, have adopted the video mantra and having produced dozens of videos over the last calendar year.

CIES also recently came across Ahlain, a not-for-profit group founded right here in Calgary in November 2015 by Cesar Agudelo, Esmahan Razavi and Jon Yee. These three Calgarian young professionals came together in order to provide a high-tech way to assist refugees and immigrants with their settlement experience. Cesar, Esmahan and Jon have also partnered with Trevor Doerksen, CEO and founder of Mobovivo in order to create an app to host the informational videos being created by Ahlain. Just getting underway, below are two of the three videos released by the group, spoken in Arabic with English captions.We look forward to seeing more from Ahlain and for more information visit their website. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

CIES Family Tree - Alastair Linds

If you were once a part of the CIES family, you will always be part of the CIES family and as a result yesterday former CIES Employment Skills Training instructor Alastair Linds popped in for a visit, A couple years back Alastair took a position with Alberta Health Services' Knowledge and Innovation Department, but CIES remains close to his heart, To this day, he still recounts his three years at CIES as an eye-opening and inspiring experience. "Seeing all these people who come to Canada for a new life, working so hard to get their foot in the door, left a great impression on me" Linds recounted.

Both his time here at CIES and the fact his mother immigrated to Canada from Japan tethers Linds to the newcomer's journey and he sees immigration as more important than ever to our country's future. An ageing population, a downturn in the economy, and a lack of people skilled in trades means immigration will continue to be a bedrock of Canada's growth.

CIES send s a big thank you to our former EST instructor, both for his time here with us and for the work he is now doing with one of Alberta's most important wings of government. All the best!

Thursday, February 11, 2016

CIES Continues Expansion and Growth

As we move into 2016 CIES continues to expand its services across the city. This past week CIES added 6 additional weekday classes.  Further still, CIES will add four more weekend classes to our our NE Whitehorn Location. With our SE location in Forest Lawn already running weekend classes, CIES now offers programs and services 7 days a week across two locations, in both North and South Calgary. In our sheer availability and timings we stand alone, as there is no else in the city that can say the same.

Further still, with expansion and growth comes renovations, Our 22,000 square foot facility in the NE is less than four years old, so it was time to turn our attention to our 15,000 square foot SE Location, the CIES Head Office since 2003. Our Drop-in and ESL programs have had classrooms refurbished, with everything from new tables, additional tablets and additional resources, including a re-designed and updated curriculum and a volunteer training package. Even our admin floor is getting in on the action with new flooring being laid, along with all rooms being given as a fresh coat of paint.

We have been proud to serve the community of Calgary for nearly three decades and with two bustling and up to date centres on both sides of the city open 7 days a week, we look forward to three decades more. And we will do so carrying forth the same goal that has been there from day one - to provide Calgary immigrants and economically disadvantaged individuals with a solid foothold and afford them the opportunities to grow into productive, confident and contributive Canadians. For more pics of the renos CLICK HERE and to watch the CIES Board of Directors President give a brief history of our Society click the video below. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Calgary Jobs, Information and Training

CIES always does our best to stay plugged into the Calgary community. so you can be too. From Day one CIES has always believed that strong community partnerships are the best way to have both a meaningful and sustainable impact on the life of immigrants here in Calgary.  We are affiliated with a number of key organizations throughout the city and this expansive network allows us to stay informed on your behalf. Below is a list of upcoming opportunities for a wide range of skills sets and experience levels to improve your skills, network and submit resumes for employment. Click on the provided posters for more details.

  • Meet the store management team and discover why a career with TJX Canada (HomeSense and Marshalls) will take you further than you might expect!  

  • Discover which industries are hiring at the next Job Search Boot Camp.  . 
  • The Warehouse & Logistic Skills Training program is designed to help unemployed Albertans develop the knowledge and skills necessary to get jobs in the warehouse industry.  
  • No-cost FE Exam Preparation Study Groups for Internationally Educated Engineers. 


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Community Investors VIII: Federation of Calgary Communities

The eighth non-profit highlighted in the CIES Community Investors Series is the Federation of Calgary Communities. Incorporated in 1961, the Federation of Calgary Communities is a support organization to over 200 member not-for-profit organizations including the 150 community associations of Calgary and area. Community associations across the city work like the anchor for their communities and the Federation of Calgary Communities supports its membership, through an understanding of their needs, assisting in their work, linking common issues, while being supportive in learning and sharing.  Overall, the Federation of Calgary Communities exists to provide quality programs, services, and support to their members and offer an informed and respected voice on issues important to building, supporting, and maintaining community life in Calgary.

Their members have access to five unique service areas, all which offer quality educational opportunities and resources, one-on-one support, and much more.

  • information.
  • financial services
  • urban planning
  • member services
  • celebrating communities
  • building safe communities

​Community associations are about much more than landscaping and lawn care. They are about creating a welcoming atmosphere that promotes belonging for all residents. Associations often work on the front lines of important social, cultural, and environmental issues, responding to the needs of their residents; while fostering and supporting residents of their communities to engage their neighbourhoods and in civic life in general. This is facilitated through social, recreation and sports programs, and neighbourhood improvement plans. Additionally, community associations have the potential to mobilize citizens and local resources in order to make contributions to the overall well being of life within a community life and in doing so, provide a shared sense of citizenship and inclusion.

CIES extends its full support and a big thank you to the Federation of Calgary Communities for the important service you have provided our great city for more than more than a half century; a service, that at its heart, is truly Canadian. For more information, along with volunteer opportunities, please visit their website.

Monday, February 8, 2016

LINC Home Study - Exams and Testing

Many of you may know Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) is an English Language training program funded by Citizenship and Immigration Canada. That said, the Centre for Education & Training’s LINC Home Study program takes things a step further by providing free distance education for eligible newcomers to Canada who cannot attend LINC classes in person. What you may not know is that CIES is the only provider of LINC Home study within the municipality of Calgary, once again making the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society a leader in Immigrant Services in our city. 

As a follow up to LINC Home Study - Everything You Need To Know  the video below takes things to the assessment level. LINC Home Study also includes exams and testing, but just what does that mean in a digitally designed online only course? This video tutorial explains the procedures and rules for your LINC Home Study test.

All About CIES

As most of you will know by now, CIES is a non-profit registered charitable organization devoted to assisting immigrants and low income Canadians through various levels of language, employment, computer, settlement, and training programs for up to 1000 students a day, 7 days a week. That said, one would be hard pressed to go through all that we do in specifics simply because of the sheer amount of programs and services we offer. Below is a summary of CIES that encompasses the full circumference of our Society. If ever one needed a go to source for everything CIES, this is it. A big thanks to Colyn deGraaff, our resident Emcee and Presentation Guru for putting it together!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

CIES Launches Latest Video Series - Diana's Demo Reel

With this post the Calgary Immigrant Educational Society and CIES Productions launches its latest video series, Diana's Demo Reel. Diana Katsnelson, who started her career as a teacher of English as a second language in South Korea and has been with us here at CIES for nearly 7 years, will share her thoughts and ideas about teaching and learning in the classroom throughout 2016.  While our previous series. Demos with Donna. offered us a look inside the pre-literate and entry level experience, Diana invites you inside a Canadian Language benchmark Level 7 classroom environment. With a Level 4 being the minimum required language benchmark to sit for a Canadian citizenship exam, these students have well passed that and are working to hone their skills to go directly into college or the workplace. Enjoy Volume One below!

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Community Investors VII - Calgary Dream Centre

The seventh non-profit highlighted in the CIES Community Investors Series is the Calgary Dream Centre.. The Calgary Dream Centre strives to guide men caught in cycles of poverty and addiction into lives of purpose. They meet them where they’re at, walking with them towards recovery one step at a time. They're vision is life change for the homeless and hurting. They're mission is to help people restore their dignity, discover their destiny, and realize their dreams.

Committed to the core values of mercy, compassion, respect, integrity and innovation, the Calgary Dream Centre is a critical lifeline for men caught in the cycles of homelessness and addiction, providing hope and a chance at a better life. Their programs are only possible with the support of donors and volunteers. There are many ways to support what they do—from volunteering to making a gift. By donating your time, your funds, or your compassion, you can help them grow and extend their reach to touch the lives of many more people.

CIES extends a heartfelt thank you to the Calgary Dream Centre for the very important service you have provided the city of Calgary for more than 10 years. For more information about the Calgary Dream Centre, along with volunteer opportunities, please visit their website.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Origami Phi Long - A Canadian Story

Many of us at one time or another get an idea for some kind of home business or product to sell, but few of us actually take the time and effort to follow through with it. It is this entrepreneurial spirit however, that is a hallmark of working life here in Canada. Small business owners that sometimes turn into big business enterprises are part of the North American Dream and have resulted in some of the most beloved franchises in the country. Not everyone will come up with the next Tim Horton's or Canadian Tire of course, but many Canadians around the country supplement their incomes with successful home businesses. Hieu Le of Calgary is one of those people, and her creativity and passion are beginning to pay dividends.

Hieu Le came to Calgary in 2012 to join her husband who was already here in Calgary, working as a knife sharpener. It was when she began studying at the CIES SE location in Forest Lawn, more than two years later, when Hieu and her skill with origami first came to our attention, It all started when Hieu decided to make a couple of small gifts for friends. Being the creative type and a crafter at heart, she wanted to make something personalized just for them. She went to YouTube and looked for some ideas and that's where she found videos teaching the art of origami. Not only was she hooked, she excelled, soon making beautiful and incredibly detailed origami pieces. The response she got was so positive, she decided to try selling her creations online. And so, Phi Long Origami was born.

Hieu named her home business after her six year old son and it is the time she needs to spend at home to care for his special needs that indirectly contributed to Lieu's home business. Phi Long suffers from Hypoxic Ischemic Encephalopathy (HIE). HIE  is essentially a brain dysfunction caused by a reduction in the supply of oxygen to the brain and other organs (hypoxia), compounded by low blood flow to vital organs (ischemia). Encephalopathy refers to any condition that results from reduced blood and oxygen supply to the brain. Since this is considered a brain injury, the time of the oxygen deprivation generally relates to the perinatal period, just before and just after delivery.

With mounting medical bills and more time at home necessary, Hieu focused on her home business. She started a Facebook Page, set up online purchases using, and even made a YouTube Channel. Slowly but surely. purchase orders rolled in. Not long after and entirely due to her true skill at making such remarkable creations, soon she had orders for birthdays, weddings and parties, at times having more than she can handle.

She has been successful enough that expansion would be a possibility, but Hieu has neither the time nor the seed money to go past where she currently sits. We need to get her in the Dragon's Den! In any regard, all of us here at CIES couldn't be prouder of Hieu. She is a living example of the effort and dedication that often come with an immigrant's arrival in Canada, a place where hard work and good ideas can truly make a difference. A simple yet profound concept that has made Canada a beacon of hope for people around the world for so long and why Hieu and Origami Phi Long, like so many that have come before it, is indeed a Canadian Story.