In the Field Newsletter Volume 28


OCASI In the Field
Volume 28
Message from the Executive Director

Debbie DouglasSince the millennium, Ontario's immigrant and refugee-serving sector has been witness to significant shifts in the kinds of programs and services required to meet the needs of immigrants and refugees. There has been a shift in demographics in terms of countries of origin beginning about a quarter century ago, but as important has been the later change in the education levels, employment experience and official languages facility of new arrivals.

Read more of Debbie's observations on change happening in the sector

OCASI Member Feature

In My Own Voice: A Visual Diary of Newcomer Youth

"The stories you are about to hear are just a few voices from the many newcomer youth who are often forced to integrate into Canadian society while their individual stories go unacknowledged." Created by a group of youth at YOCISO - the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization's Youth Program - with artist Allan André.

The Story of "In My Own Voice":

In My Own Voice This video addresses the theme of refugee youth experiences within the Canadian education system. The hope is that the video will be used as a public education tool in raising awareness of the experiences of refugee youth in our schools and create more understanding of the challenges refugee youth face once they are resettled in Canada. They also hope that the stories in this video will highlight the resilience of refugee youth and how their difficult experiences also contribute to their strength and ability to not only survive but thrive.

This video is an opportunity for refugee youth, whose stories and individuals experiences are often not heard, to share their own experience and concerns without having others to speak on their behalf. To ensure this, YOCISO emphasized that each individual share their thoughts and lived experiences unabated and without censor.

Contact: Jesse Ranauta -

OCASI Happenings

Annual General Meeting Announcement

Wednesday, October 29th, 2014
5:00 PM to 6:30 PM

The Westin Prince Hotel
900 York Mills Rd - Toronto, Ontario

OCASI Executive Director Debbie Douglas Receives the 2014 UARR Race Relations Award

OCASI Executive Director Debbie Douglas Receives the 2014 UARR Race Relations Award The board and staff of the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants is delighted to congratulate Debbie Douglas, Executive Director, on being awarded the Race Relations Award by the Urban Alliance on Race Relations (UARR). Debbie was honoured along with other Award recipients at the UARR 39th Anniversary and 2014 Awards Dinner held in Toronto on Thursday September 18, 2014. She was nominated by Hon. Jean Augustine, Fairness Commissioner (Ontario).

A big, warm and hearty congratulations to Debbie, and congratulations to Award recipients Lloyd McKell, Enzo DiMatteo and Jim Rankin.

Read more here

Racial Justice Analysis of 2nd Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy

Colour of Poverty - Colour of Change (COP-COC) commends the Ontario Government for its ongoing commitment to poverty reduction, expressed through the release of its second Poverty Reduction Strategy (PRS), Realizing Our Potential – Ontario's Poverty Reduction Strategy (2014-2019) on September 3, 2014. COP-COC offers this racial justice analysis of the PRS and urges the Government to incorporate these perspectives in the implementation phase so as to ensure all Ontarians, including members of racialized communities – both First Peoples and peoples of colour – will have the opportunities to realize their full potentials.

OCASI is a founding Steering Committee member of Colour of Poverty - Colour of Change.

See link for racial justice analysis

OCASI is pleased to announce the launch of the Positive Space Assessment Tool!

 Positive Space Assessment ToolThe Tool will be available for public use at as of October 28, 2014. This free and anonymous online questionnaire was designed in 2013-2014 to benchmark organizational standards for serving LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer, questioning, intersex, asexual, etc.) newcomers. It can be used by organizations to:

  • Understand clearly what a Positive Space is, involves, and looks like in both theory and practice
  • Assess how positive their space really is for LGBTQ+ newcomers and staff, including compliance with Ontario Human Rights Code laws and best practices in settlement services
  • Identify key strengths and target areas for improvement
  • Connect to necessary resources that are tailored based on need
  • Stimulate internal dialogue, and use assessment results as a catalyst to:
    • Access training
    • Create or revise policies
    • Consult with stakeholders
    • Pilot new initiatives, programs, partnerships, etc.
  • Evaluate effectiveness of change initiatives and monitor progress over time
    • This can be done by re-taking the Assessment Tool at a later date and comparing with previous results


We would like to thank the OCASI Positive Spaces Initiative Advisory Committee who graciously gave their time, energy, wisdom, and encouragement in the development of this tool. Your knowledge, experience, and generosity are what made this possible.

Sector Happenings

Canadian Council for Refugees Fall Consultation Gatineau, 27-29 November 2014, Gatineau

Join us to explore questions affecting refugee protection and newcomer settlement at the Canadian Council for Refugee Fall Consultation in Gatineau, Quebec from 27-29 November.

Sessions will focus on creating stronger connections between regions and strengthening local community support for newcomers.

For more information and to register online:

Consultation d'automne du Conseil canadien pour les réfugiés du 27 au 29 novembre 2014, à Gatineau

Du 27 au 29 novembre, participez à la Consultation du Conseil canadien pour les réfugiés (CCR), à Gatineau, afin de discuter des enjeux concernant la protection des réfugiés et l'établissement des nouveaux arrivants. Les conférences et discussions traiteront du renforcement des liens entre les régions ainsi que de l'amélioration du soutien communautaire offert aux nouveaux arrivants.

Pour de plus amples renseignements et pour vous inscrire en ligne, consultez le site :

A Newcomer's Introduction to Consumer Protection

The Ministry of Government and Consumer Services (MGCS) is pleased to announce a new resource, A Newcomer's Introduction to Consumer Protection in Ontario. It was created to help promote a fair, safe and informed marketplace — one in which newcomers are informed of their consumer rights. This outreach guide is being offered to agencies affiliated with OCASI.

Your agency does important work to help newcomers settle in Ontario. Through collaboration with the Ministry of Citizenship & Immigration (MCI) and by examining consumer complaint data, the ministry has learned that newcomers could benefit from receiving accurate and timely information about their consumer rights soon after arriving in Ontario.

The newcomer consumer guide can help address this need. The consumer guide provides basic education on diverse consumer issues, such as: signing a contract, door-to-door sales, renting or buying a car, moving, scams and frauds, etc. Knowing more about these everyday consumer issues can go a long way to empower newcomers.

In addition to distributing the guide, the ministry offers Consumer Coach training workshops to agency staff, who can integrate this information into on-going language programs.

Through this initiative, the ministry's Consumer Protection Ontario program can raise awareness about consumer issues with your staff and the clients you serve.

The “Consumer Coach” can make presentations to settlement and ESL staff to share stories, information and resources such as brochures, websites and other tools to inform newcomers about how to protect themselves and their hard-earned money.

The services and resources offered above are free.

For more information about the guide or to book a Consumer Coach workshop, please email

Click her for English Copy [PDF]
Click here for French Copy [PDF]

Vulnerable Workers Priority for Ontario's Occupational Health and Safety System

Ontario's first-ever integrated strategy for occupational health and safety is designed to prevent injuries, illnesses and fatalities and to improve the delivery of workplace health and safety. The five-year strategy was developed by the Ontario Ministry of Labour in consultation with business, labour groups, health and safety associations and residents of Ontario. The strategy includes targeted outreach to raise awareness about the rights and responsibilities of workers and their employers. This is to ensure all workers, especially vulnerable workers who are most at risk, receive the help they need.

Like all employees, vulnerable workers need a safe workplace. However, for various reasons, vulnerable workers may sometimes choose to take risks to keep their jobs. They may also be at greater risk of having their rights violated due to not knowing or understanding their occupational rights and responsibilities. The term “vulnerable workers” includes newcomers, temporary foreign workers in low skill jobs and those whose first language is neither English nor French.

There is an opportunity for OCASI members to provide feedback on the government's vulnerable worker plans and activities to date as well as voice their ideas and organizational needs to better protect and assist their clients to stay healthy and safe at work.

Read more here

Partnership Grant Program Second Call Launch

The Ministry of Citizenship, Immigration and International Trade is launching a second Call for Proposals for the Partnership Grant Program. The Ministry will hold information sessions on dates indicated in the application guidelines. Deadline for applications - October 27, 2014 - 5pm.

The 2014 Partnership Grant Program will continue to support building capacity of the not-for-profit sector focusing on three priority areas:

  1. Program Evaluation: the Ministry is seeking project proposals that will increase capacity for program evaluation in the NFP sector;
  2. Inclusive Leadership: the Ministry is seeking project proposals that will develop diversity/inclusion in leadership in the NFP sector;
  3. Volunteer Management: the Ministry is seeking project proposals that will enhance capacity for Volunteer Management in the NFP sector.


The approach will be sector wide with the objective to support two and three year projects. Projects must make a substantive impact on improving the ability of not-for-profit organizations to advance their mandates and operate effectively in communities across Ontario.

In April 2010, the Government of Ontario launched the Partnership Project – a province-wide initiative to seek ideas and advice on ways to renew, streamline and modernize the relationship between the government and the Ontario not-for-profit sector. The Partnership Grant Program was designed to address one of the key recommendations - to build sector capacity by investing in projects that support intra-sector cooperation, communication and networks.

Go to Partnership Grant Program

For further information about the application process, please register for the one of the teleconference information sessions or contact the Voluntary Sector Relations at