Ontarians honoured with Newcomer Champions Award 2009

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If we create the conditions, people can thrive. That’s why the Province of Ontario celebrated the work of eight leaders and two institutions that have promoted Ontario’s diversity and helped create welcoming communities for immigrants.

Ontario’s Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Michael Chan, presided over the Newcomer Champion Awards 2009 ceremony that recognizes that the province advantage resides in its diversity.

According to the minister, the awards have a double significance. “People who have been here for a longer time devote their time and passion to help newcomers,” he says. “For newcomers who arrive, the message is that the Provincial government, and the people of Ontario, will try to help them, will try to make their change as smooth as possible.”

Among the recipients of the 2009 Newcomer Champion Awards are advocates for the education of newcomers and foreign trained professionals, entrepreneurs, and exceptional social workers.

The ten award recipients are:

  • Dr. Yamil H. Alonso (Brampton): A promoter of skilled newcomers and equal employment opportunities. He was instrumental in the development of the Skills without Borders initiative and the website www.skillswithoutborders.com, which provides employers with recommendations and tools needed to developed and manage a culturally diverse workplace
  • Mario J. Calla (Toronto): The executive director of COSTI Immigrant Services has helped bring attention to issues of concern to newcomers, from learning English and finding jobs in their field to family violence and gambling addiction.
  • Dr. Balliram Chadee (Ajax): Founder and president of the Hanuman Mission, he has worked for 24 years building bridges between those who offer support for newcomers with those who are seeking help from the South Asian and Indo Caribbean Community in Durham Region.
  • Ian Jones (Milton): An education advocate who promotes Ontario’s diversity to students. The principal of Milton District High School Board developed a Living Cultures course for Grade 12 students to promote respect and appreciation of today’s diverse communities.
  • Nora Melara-Lopez (Hamilton): She has worked hand in hand with newcomers as part of North Hamilton Community Health Centre. Through initiatives such as the Trans-Cultural Mental Health Wellness Team, she supports newcomers struggling with post-migration challenges.
  • Fani Papadopoulos (Toronto): A manager in the Continuing Education Department of the Toronto District School Board, Papadopoulos has helped to establish programs in more than 50 different languages for more than 30,000 elementary and secondary school children.
  • Aurelia Tokaci (Hamilton): An entrepreneur and manager of employment services at Settlement and Integration Services Organization (SISO), she helps talented and experienced newcomers to establish business and get jobs in Hamilton.
  • Ann Welsh (North Bay): She works to ensure that her region welcomes diversity and values cultural traditions. She manages programming for the North Bay Newcomers Network, promoting diversity in the area through events like Canada Day and various multicultural celebrations.
  • Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council of Toronto (TRIEC): The institution champions solutions that better integrate skilled immigrants into the labour market. With programs like Career Bridge and the TRIEC Mentoring Program, TRIEC has helped connect thousands of newcomers with the support of more than 50 corporate partners and 12 community organizations.
  • Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization of Ottawa (OCISO): The organization has provided settlement and integration services to the Ottawa areas for more than 30 years. Their Multicultural Liaison Officer MLO Team works with schools boards to help newly landed high school students and their families in their integration.

Created in 2007, the Newcomer Champion Awards – inspired by the contributions of three Ontario visionaries, Daniel Ianuzzi, Jean Lumb and Mary Ann Shadd – recognizes individuals and organizations who promote a greater understanding of Ontario’s cultures and who support better economic and social integration of newcomers.

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