Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Refugees, Lowkey & M.I.A. - One Year Later

It is now one year later for the first wave of resettled Syrian refugees here in Canada. The second year and those that follow will bring about a whole new round of challenges. For those first to arrive, December marks the end of the government-sponsored refugee package and its monthly living allowance. They now will either have to support themselves or fall back on provincial social assistance. For those of us here in Canada, one year has passed since we watched the biggest humanitarian crisis since the Second World War filter into our cities.

One year later perspective and awareness are key; key to understanding, to growing, to survival and most of all - hope.

courtesy Reuters

Developing both an awareness and understanding of the complex nature of the refugee, due to many factors and moving parts, is important toward acknowledging not just the international community's role, but our community's role in aiding refugees today.  It is hoped that, at the very least, the Calgary community now understands the definition of the term "refugee." According to international law, a refugee is specifically someone who is fleeing armed conflict or persecution and has sought refuge across international borders. The UNHCR puts it plainly: "These are people for whom denial of asylum has potentially deadly consequences." 

Misunderstanding the term can have dangerous consequences for refugees, and often gives way to political debate and xenophobia in place of relief during a humanitarian crisis.

courtesy AP

While the media's focus is often on Europe and the numbers of Syrians who arrived in Canada this past year, it's important to raise awareness of the fact that the vast majority of Syrian refugees are in fact displaced in neighbouring Middle Eastern countries, such as Turkey, Lebanon and Jordan, where massive populations are living in camps near the borders. The still daily influx puts incredible strains on these host countries and their limited resources, especially when it's a relatively small country like Lebanon, which currently has about 1.2 million Syrian refugees, while the country itself only has a population of about 4.5 million. The approximately 30,000 refugees that have been absorbed into a population of 35 million here in Canada pales by comparison.

courtesy AP

Europe has often been called more socially conscious, more engaged with of unilateralism, with multiculturalism, than Canada and the United States, and as a general rule it would be difficult to argue against this. On the European continent one can fly for two hours in any direction and arrive at any number of vastly different cultures, with unique languages and customs. Fly in any direction for 4 or 5 hours on this side of the pond and one winds up in virtually the same place. And if this is true, the artists and musicians of Europe often reflect the multiplicity of perspective on a level that surpasses the more monolithic spheres of influence here in North American life.

courtesy Reuters

Throughout history, artists have risen to the occasion to speak about justice, equality, love, liberty, and peace. With Europe's geopolitical landscape shifting amidst the worst migrant crisis in more than a half century, and the first cracks beginning to show in the European Union and all for which it stands, musicians are reflecting the world around them. Hip-hop artists, a genre of music and expression that is innately political, often come to the forefront at such a time and today is no different. Leading the way in European hip-hop circles for years is Lowkey.

courtesy AP

Born of to an Iraqi mother and English father, he is a product of colonialism, Lowkey's family (Kareem Dennis) escaped Iraq in the 1970’s, according to his song Cradle of Civilisation, a tribute to the land of Mesopotamia. For more than a decade, Lowkey has cut down to the political bone with biting lyrics critiquing the class system, capitalism, the Palestinian Crisis, 9/11, international terrorism and perhaps most famously,  American Foreign Policy in Obama Nation. Whether one agrees with his perspectives or not, his work incites discussion and debate about important topics, exposing the youth of today to the vastness and complexity of their burgeoning new world.

courtesy AP

This brings us to the topic at hand and the tragic and moving photograph taken just over a year ago of a drowned Syrian boy face down in muck after his body washed ashore in Turkey that caused heartbreak among people worldwide, and refocused attention on the international refugee crisis. Lowkey's 2016 release of "Ahmed", a tribute and social commentary about the death of this very same young boy whose life ended all to soon, is a slashing take on the world he sees.  The first verse leaves no doubt of Lowkey's perspective on the crisis that continues to unfold in Syria. "Did Ahmed not deserve a life? - Ahmed never hurt a fly - Ahmed never knew the politicians he was murdered by - Certain times Ahmed wished that he could be a bird and fly - Beyond the sky - Escape the curse of birth that he was burdened by."



Another 2016 release from London born, Sri Lanka and India raised artist M.I.A. (Mathangi Arulpragasam) called "Borders" also comes to mind at the one year anniversary of Canada's intake of Syrian refugees. Rapper,  producer, director,  and artist, M.I.A. began her career in 2000 as a visual artist, filmmaker and designer in west London, before beginning her recording career in 2002 and has since been nominated for an Academy Award, three Grammy Awards and the Mercury Prize.
courtesy Reuters

The track, which fuses eastern and western styles, questions the fabric of modern society – politics, identities, privilege, smartphones and the internet– before reducing the world down to its essentials: family, power, belief and values.



One year later and it appears both everything and nothing has changed. Perhaps all we can do is continue to care, be aware and to understand.  CFN has and will continue to be a voice within the Calgary Community that spreads awareness within the walls of the Centre, online and through social media, in person and face to face, that generates discussions among our own communities about such issues. Above all else, we continue to imagine and strive. each and every day, to help make Calgary a community that values diversity, in which people of all backgrounds find and create opportunities to fulfil dreams and participate fully as citizens. Now... let us see what the next years brings. 

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

CFN Speaker Series Adds Final Panellist


The CFN Speaker Series will take place tomorrow November 30th, with special guest presenter Dr. Yahya El-Lahib of the University of Calgary. Joining the evening's panel is Helene DeKlerk, Executive Director of New Age Services. (NAS) New Age Services was established in January 1991 to provide the highest quality of services to people with Developmental Disabilities in the Calgary Region. Their services are highly individualized and tailored to the needs of each individual. NAS ensures individual needs are met through a strong team approach where the individual, guardian, front-line and management staff work together as partners.

Helene is also an active committee member of both the Calgary Workforce Council, the Calgary Service Provider Council and regularly works towards serving people with developmental disabilities as well as with youth, seniors and children.

With our Panel complete, please join us tomorrow evening right here at CFN at 5pm for an important discussion about the effects of disability on Immigration to Canada. If you wish to register simply CLICK HERE.

Courage Under Fire

Kupe Zoe arrived in Canada just 4 weeks ago
Kupe Zoe grew up in the city of Goma, population about 1 million, located in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Located on the northern shore of Lake Kivu, next to the Rwandan city of Gisenyi, the recent history of Goma has been dominated by the volcano and the Rwandan Genocide of 1994, which in turn fueled the First and Second Congo Wars. The aftermath of these events still effects the city as Goma was captured by rebels during the M23 rebellion in late 2012, but in 2015 was retaken by government forces.

It was a cool winter night back in 2007 when Kupe, along with his parents and older brother, lay sound asleep. At 3:00 AM a loud and furious bang hit the door to their tiny home, awakening the entire family. With the country at war, the entire populace never knew what to expect. Immediately, fear gripped them all. Kupe's elderly father slowly shuffled his tired feet along the cold floor. Upon cautiously opening the door, four men stood in the shadows of the darkened night. Claiming to be police, they forced their way inside. Kupe, his brother and mother stood frozen at the back of the room. One of the four men then asked Kupe's father to confirm his identity. He did. That man then pulled out a gun and shot Kupe's father in the head at point blank range.

Before his lifeless body hit the floor, Kupe's mother yelled at her two boys to run through the bedroom and out the window. As Kupe's mother threw herself in front of the men, the two boys made a run for it. Kupe's brother helped him up and through the window. His feet hit the ground outside and he ran as fast as he could. Several shots rang out behind him. That was the last Kupe ever saw of his family.

Penniless and with only the clothes on his back, he wandered aimlessly. A man carrying a load of cattle agreed to take Kupe over the border and so, packed in the back of a truck with animals, Kupe found his way out of the Congo and into Uganda.  He soon applied for and received refugee status, but opted to be an urban refugee as opposed to living in camp. Urban refugees are granted permission to be in the country, but do not live in a refugee camp, nor do they receive any of the meagre rations that come with doing so. Basically, one must make a go of life on their own, but that was fine with Kupe. He did not want to live in camp, as he felt this was where one simply waited.

He joined a church, got work where he could, and began to pursue an unlikely vocation. One might not think of Arnold Schwarzenegger as artistic inspiration, but for Kupe it was watching Arnold movies that inspired him to be a filmmaker. Whenever he could, he would use what little money he earned to buy whatever equipment he could find and soon enough, had a small photography and videography studio. Eventually, his church agreed to pay for half of his education and not long after, Kupe enrolled in Kampala's Makerere University in Multimedia studies. Over this time he married. had a child and completed a feature length film - Your Peace is My Peace - seen below.

His wife and daughter came to Canada first and following his graduation, Kupe was sponsored as a refugee to come join them. He has been in Calgary now for just one month and has thus far taken three weeks of workshops here at CFN - Managing Workplace Expectations and Canadian Job Search Skills. He's only been here a short while, but it's hard for us not to be proud of him already. There is no doubt, Kupe's story is one of triumph - but he is not done yet.  Only a month into his Calgary experience and Kupe wants to get back to his passion - film making. He loves to create and capture and counts it as simply a part of who he is. Something tells this writer - it won’t be long until he is doing so.

All of us here at CFN wish you the best of luck Kupe and never forget, you are now, and always be, a part of the CFN family.

Monday, November 28, 2016

CFN Speaker Series Event For November 30th Adds New Panelist



With the contemporary international refugee crisis and the rising numbers of displaced marginalized social groups seeking immigration or refugee status, settlement sectors around the world are struggling to meet the demands for help and support. Within this global reality, marginalized social groups such as people with disabilities are the first to fall through the cracks. These experiences serve as a reminder of the important role that settlement sectors can and should play to prevent such a fate. Such circumstances leads one to ask what can we do differently in supporting the settlement and integration experiences for immigrants and refugees with disabilities?

The CFN Speaker Series continues November 30th right here at the Centre, with special guest presenter Dr. Yahya El-Lahib of the University of Calgary. Joining the evening's panel is Rianne Rogan, a certified exercise physiologist, working with the University of Calgary Rehab Program for the past 6 years. The Rehabilitation and Fitness Program at U of C has been in existence since 1989. It provides individuals with physical disabilities the opportunity to continue their rehabilitative and fitness goals in a community setting. This program is designed to increase the participants' understanding and involvement in the health and fitness area and encourages integration back into other community programs. Rianne is of University of Calgary graduate in Kinesiology. and  cites her passion as helping people achieve goals that bring them closer to an independent lifestyle.

The panel discussion will include the troubling dominant misconceptions about immigrants and refugees with disabilities to highlight the actual and potential contributions that they make to the Canadian local and national fabric. Throughout this discussion, key recommendations for the settlement sector will be provided to improve the quality of services for immigrants and refugees with disabilities.

For more information about this November 30th CFN event, give us a call at 403-569-3325 and to register for this event simply CLICK HERE

#GivingTuesdayYYC @ CFN

Most people know about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. It`s a time of year that is tantamount to an all out consumer blitz to spend money. Now we have GivingTuesday.

#GivingTuesday @ CFN from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

GivingTuesday is a new Canadian movement for giving and volunteering taking place each year after Cyber Monday. The 'opening day of the giving season', GivingTuesday brings together charities, companies and individuals to share commitments, rally for favourite causes and think about others. The Kickoff event will be held tomorrow , Tuesday  November 29th at the Cenovus building. Dr. Lucy Miller, President and CEO of the United Way of Calgary and Area will join Wayne Steer, President of AFP Calgary & Area.


We encourage you to donate on Giving Tuesday (click here to do so) Nov 29 or throughout the Giving Season, to help support our vision and ultimate goal for Calgary - a community that values diversity, in which people of all backgrounds find and create opportunities to fulfil dreams and participate fully as citizens. Since 1988 the Centre for Newcomers has been supporting newcomers and the receiving community in becoming a diverse, united city, through services and initiatives that create conditions of success for newcomers and that foster a welcoming environment in Calgary. Further still, the Centre for Newcomers not only provides local leadership, but provincial and national leadership in immigrant settlement and integration as well.


Help support a great cause with a new vision of community building this #GivingTuesdayYYC as all proceeds from this fundraising event go towards Centre for Newcomers programs, impacting over 10, 000 immigrants and refugees every year in Calgary.

#GivingTuesday @ CFN from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Friday, November 25, 2016

CFN Podcast Centre - Is Canada a Racist Country?

As reports of prejudiced behaviour appear more and more on the news recently, the topic of racism has been circling the Canadian media and by extension water cooler conversations around the country. Both CTV and CBC have even contacted CFN in recent weeks for commentary on such issues and overall, the topic has been trending online at rates not seen in many years. Why? For a commentary on this very topic click here to tune into this week's podcast.

CFN Hosts Syrian Youth Of Calgary

CFN hosted a Government of Canada forum for Syrian youth in Calgary last night. Asked for their ideas and concerns about the settlement process, the youth in attendance offered thoughts on their current needs and what they would like to see done in the community.

Here at CFN we firmly believe that youth engagement empowers young people to have a voice in the decisions that affect their daily lives, Further still, getting youth to participate in activities and decisions that, in the end, adults ultimately control is not real engagement. Authentic youth engagement means young people have real authority and responsibility, while being provided with the opportunity to develop the necessary skills to make good decisions. For  community organizations and policymakers, this means working in partnership with community youth, instead of simply providing services to them. By extension, the youth of a community thus become agents of change themselves instead of simply being targeted for change by external forces.



Actively engaging youth is not only a path to a better community, but  a positive result in and of itself. Youth learn about the goings on of their communities and more importantly. how to make better places and spaces for both themselves and those around them.

CFN would like to thank the government of Canada for lending an ear to the young voices of our community and CBC coming down and shining some light what are truly important issues to all of Calgary. Most of all CFN sends out a heartfelt thank you to all the young people of Calgary's Syrian youth community who took the time to come out and offer their thoughts and ideas. This night was for you and we look forward to working together as you lead our community into the future. For more photos of the event CLICK HERE.



CFN attends Hire10 Event

Yesterday, CFN attended Hire10's Job Fair at the Clarion Hotel.  A new organisation with an interesting twist, HIRE 10 sponsoring employers must pledge to hire 10 individuals over the next three months. The Hire 10 career fair style (on steroids) initiative matches committed, socially conscious employers with prospective employees facing notable challenges in today's economy. Hire10 events are proving that Alberta's employers have jobs and are hiring even during these challenging times. Their goal is stimulating local Alberta communities and economies through increased and focused hiring by our Province's employers.

Hire10 is an initiative for employers looking to promote the positive hiring plans they have to Job Seekers in Calgary, Edmonton, Red Deer and Medicine Hat.The organisation is always looking for engaged organizations that want to align their hiring with the positive energy that the pledge will create in our local community and the economy.  In the end, Hire10 brings as many pledging employers together as possible in order to put the job seeker in front of hiring managers allowing them to discuss jobs they have or expect to have soon.

Thanks to Hire10 for the invite and we look forward to seeing more of your events in the future! For more information visit their website and for more photos of the event CLICK HERE.


Thursday, November 24, 2016

CFN Productions - Learning With LINC

There is no doubt that CFN is unique in its collaborative efforts with the community, the programs we offer and its continuous drive towards research and development. Whether it be our Ethnicity Catering Program, our work steering youth away from gang activity, Our Indigenous Education Initiative or the research and development of our LGBTQ Awareness Project and Agricultural Training Program, we offer so much more than language and employment opportunities.

That being said, language and employment are indeed vital and important parts to CFNs services and perhaps the backbone to it all is LINC - Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada.The LINC program uses the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB) to describe your English language level in reading, writing, listening and speaking. LINC is a free language training program for eligible adult learners. It is funded by Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC). For a peek inside a LINC Classroom here at CFN, simply click below.

Learning with LINC @ CFN from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

CFN Speaker Series - Disability & Displacement Panel

With the contemporary international refugee crisis and the rising numbers of displaced marginalized social groups seeking immigration or refugee status, settlement sectors around the world are struggling to meet the demands for help and support. Within this global reality, marginalized social groups such as people with disabilities are the first to fall through the cracks. These experiences serve as a reminder of the important role that settlement sectors can and should play to prevent such a fate. Such circumstances leads one to ask what can we do differently in supporting the settlement and integration experiences for immigrants and refugees with disabilities?


The CFN Speaker Series continues November 30th right here at the Centre, with special guest presenter Dr. Yahya El-Lahib of the University of Calgary. Joining the evening's panel is Denice Duchak.  She has worked with the Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) for the last 14 years in various positions and currently holds the position of Specialist, Community Education and Assistant, Assistive Technology.  She has had the opportunity to educate the public about CNIB Programs and Services as well as performing low tech assessments for clients with vision loss.  Her personal experience with vision loss has allowed her to mentor and support others on the same journey.

The panel discussion will include the troubling dominant misconceptions about immigrants and refugees with disabilities to highlight the actual and potential contributions that they make to the Canadian local and national fabric. Throughout this discussion, key recommendations for the settlement sector will be provided to improve the quality of services for immigrants and refugees with disabilities.

For more information about this November 30th CFN event, give us a call at 403-569-3325 and to register for this event simply CLICK HERE

CFN Speaker Series from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

CFN Productions - Canadian Business Essential for Accounting

One of the most unique and high successfully programs at CFN is our CBEA Prorgam - Canadian Business Essentials for Accounting. CFN, in collaboration with SAIT Polytechnic and funded through Alberta Human Services, offers a bridging program for internationally trained accountants. The program accepts experienced and internationally-educated professional accountants and provides them with Canadian workplace knowledge, skills, and abilities to assist them in their job search in Canada. CFN Production recently say in a a few classes allowing for a look into the program. Click below to check it out. 

The CBEA Program @ CFN from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

CFN Launches Holiday Season Fundraising Campaign

Are you looking for a great holiday gift for friends, coworkers, clients or yourself? Indulge yourself with a combination pack of 3 festive flavours from around the world - Parsi Chutney, Piccalilli Pickle and Green Apple Jam -  $20 (plus GST) for a set of 3 jars. Help support a great cause and enjoy these affordable and tasty delights. All proceeds from this fundraising event go towards Centre for Newcomers programs, impacting over 10, 000 immigrants and refugees every year in Calgary.



Piccalilli
The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word piccalilli to the middle of the 18th century when, in 1758, Hannah Glasse described how "to make Paco-Lilla or India Pickle". British piccalilli contains various vegetables – invariably cauliflower, onion, and gherkin – and seasonings of mustard and turmeric. It is usually used to accompany a dish on a plate rather than as a bread spread. It is popular as a relish with cold cuts, and with cheese dishes.
  Parsi Chutney
The Parsis, whose name means “Persians” in India, are originally from Iran. They live chiefly in Mumbai and in a few towns and surrounding area Bangalore, India and Karachi, Pakistan. This chutney recipe is made from tomatoes and Indian spices and consists of sweet, sour, salty and hot tastes. It is a perfect accompaniment to cheese boards and cold cuts.
Green Apple Jam
Jam typically contains both the juice and flesh of a fruit or vegetable, although some cookbooks define it as a cooked and jelled puree. Our Apple Jam is simply made with apples, sugar and lemon juice, and is a staple in many Canadian pantries.
Book your order in advance 
because these fantastic treats will not last! 
Delivery is available for a flat fee of $15 when 5 or more sets are purchased and are scheduled for Fridays only, Nov 25 to Dec 16. 

Call or e-mail to order  / 403.537.8809  / order@ethnicitycatering.ca

Monday, November 21, 2016

Community Leaders Attend CFNs Ethno-cultural Partner Forum

In Canada, as elsewhere, many immigrants rely on ethnospecific organizations – those that represent and provide services to a single ethnocultural group – to further their economic and social interests. This can have varying consequences for group members. Although dense communal organizing often facilitates economic networking and provides various other supports to recent arrivals,  when working individually, it can also lead to isolation and delayed integration. This is where CFN Community Outreach comes into play.

In line with our mission, CFN held an ethno-cultural partner forum this passed Saturday, November 19th that focused on diversity, fund sourcing and collaboration. Representatives from 16 ethno-cultural associations, with whom the Centre closely partners, came together on a single platform and discussed relevant issues. 42 community leaders and funding partners came together and we here at CFN view Ethno-cultural communities as our strength. It is our constant endeavour to involve ethno-cultural partners into meaningful dialogues and seek their opinions on various topics of interest that can be used towards community capacity building.

A heartfelt thank you for all who attended on Saturday and in your efforts to  join us in ensuring the values of equality and respect, collaboration, communication, professionalism, caring, diversity and inclusion are enjoyed and echoed by all. For more Photos of the event CLICK HERE. 

CFN Job Fair Attracts Hundreds

On Friday of last week CFN held it's second job fair of 2016 right here at the Centre and the response was incredible, with approximately 600 attendees coming through our doors. As per the CFN mandate at our job fairs, nearly all had face time with potential employers, as this was not simply a drop your resume at the door event. Thank you to Sears, CIBC, Loblaws, Alberta College of Acupuncture & Traditional Chinese Medicine, Harmony Beef, Courtyard Marriott Hotel, and T & T supermarket for participating and most especially to all those potential employees who attended. Based on data from previous CFN job fairs, 10% of those who attend gain employment, meaning approximately 60 people will obtain a job from Friday's big event. This represents a great return, and even more so when considering the tough economic times here in Alberta these days.

Here at CFN the world we imagine for Calgary is a community that values diversity, in which people of all backgrounds find and create opportunities to fulfil dreams and participate fully as citizens. It is our hope that participating in a collective gathering with other job seekers, and multiple employers in the same room allowed those in attendance to discover several things one can use to improve their chances of landing a job. A big tip of the hat to all those here at CFN and the many volunteers who worked so hard to make this event happen . Best of luck in your search and keep your eyes open for more upcoming events here at the Centre For Newcomers! For more Photos of the day CLICK HERE.

Friday, November 18, 2016

CFN Delivers Cultural Competency Training to Local Community

Yesterday CFN delivered a Cultural Competency Training session at YWCA's Sheriff King Home in Inglewood. The training was interactive and incorporated the questions and areas of focus of the audience. Newcomer populations in Calgary and surrounding area, (who are they, history, demographic trends, etc) current issues related to this population (including geopolitical, health, emergent needs, etc), best practices as service provided to immigrants, refugees and ethnocultural minorities and additional resources available were all discussed. The fact of the matter is that Calgary has shifted from a small prairie city to a multicultural urban centre, and a preferred destination for many immigrants arriving to Canada. By the year 2020, 40% of Calgary will be visible minorities. Cultural competency is needed for us to continue to thrive and grow as a community.

Developing cultural competency results in the ability to comprehend and effectively communicate with people across cultures, and work efficiently within a myriad of cultural beliefs. This capability is dependent on one's own cultural worldview, knowledge of alternative worldviews, and the acceptance of cultural differences.  Cultural complications that can arise include simple miscommunication to all out conflict.  There are significant differences in the mindsets of people in the East (Asia, The Far East, The Middle East) and the West (Europe, the Americas). The mental software of both the East and West contains their basic values. Acquired throughout a lifetimes, they become so natural as to be unconscious. These values heavily influence business management and often enough stand in sharp contrast to one another. This is why cultural competency is an important of life.



In the end, culture has a huge impact on how others perceive us and even how we perceive ourselves. Here at CFN we never lose site of this fact and strive to invest in our multicultural community  in order to make Calgary the best city it can be. Thank you YWCA's Sheriff King Home for a wonderful venue and to all the attendees. for taking the time to build and invest in community. For more photos of the event CLICK HERE. 

CFN Podcast Centre - Social Media & The Quantum Shift

There is no doubt digital technology and social media has transformed communication in the 21st century. Just as the Scientific and Industrial Revolutions changed the schemata of human life, the Technological Revolution, of which we are now in the throes, is changing nearly every aspect of our existence. Is this a good thing? For more on this topic,  CLICK HERE to tune into this week's CFN Podcast.


Thursday, November 17, 2016

Measure Your Soft Skills

Immigrant or born and raised Canadian, if you truly want to succeed in both your career and your life, you're going to need more than practical skills. You need the right attitude, the right approach and the right outlook.  In other words, you have to have a strong set of soft skills to compliment your practical or technical skills. The problem is that it can sometimes be difficult to know what soft skills we need to improve upon. Even our physical and mental health come into play when doing our best to improve upon our careers, and it can all be a bit hard to step outside off in order to gain the perspective needed. The quiz below can help you do just that, as it will measure your strong and weak points when it comes to soft skills.

Answer the questions as honestly as you can. Give yourself 1 point for every True selected and no scoring for False selections. Upon competing all 33 questions, add up your score and use the table at the bottom to get your score and what it means below.


Adding up your score

Okay, now it’s time to see how you did. Add up all your points and see how you scored below:

29-33: Soft Skills Superhero — Wow. Give yourself a pat on the back. You are either probably quite successful in life or on the fast track to get there. If you were honest with yourself and scored this high, you’ve got some wisdom you should probably be sharing with the world.

20-29: Soft Skills Meta-human — You've got a few things you can work on, but you are in pretty good shape. Gosh darn it, I bet people like you, and I can see why.

10-19: Soft Skills Human — This is a pretty average range, so you probably aren't in trouble, but let’s be honest, you aren't doing great either. If you are at the lower end of the spectrum here, you should definitely focus on your soft skills in order to gain more success in life. If you are at the higher range, you should pick a few soft skills to work on that you think will be the most beneficial to you.

0-9: Soft Skills Baby — Well, you at least get an extra point for being honest. Most people in this range lied and put themselves in a higher category, so there is hope for you yet. But you really need to work on them soft skills, because I guarantee your lack is holding you back in life.

So, how did you do?

source: http://simpleprogrammer.com/

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

The Blindness of Being

Rural Alberta, Canada
There appears to be an uptick in profiling and marginalising others based on ethnicity, religion, orientation, or otherwise in recent times. It's sometimes so hard to make sense of of it all, but reaching back to my beginnings, at least for me, most often leads towards a path of understanding.

I am the son of a farmer’s son, of a farmer’s son. When I was just a boy, my little home town of Two Hills, Alberta - population 1000 - was the whole wide world; little did I know what fate had in store for me. With that said, no one could never have foreseen the less than ordinary journey of my life that began with the beautiful simplicity of a little white farm house perched upon a big green hill on Range Road 130, just north of town. I spent the better part of a decade and a half living overseas and travelling the world. Every summer however, I still returned to the humble and sheltering sanctuary of home.

One thing I learned from my global odyssey of more than 40 countries is that, no matter what the culture, life unfolds upon a predetermined playing field, complete with a ready made set of rules and regulations. By the time we humans begin to live out our first recorded memories, the environment in which we do so is simply a part of our societal matrix and our daily empirical ballet is instinctually accepted as the definition of life itself. We entirely submit to the breadth and width of the field upon which we play, never viewing such boundaries as limitations, but simply as the allotted availability of space for the daily game of living a human life. By extension, we are all the cultural software of social conditioning, and the instillation of pre-conceived learning mechanisms drive nearly every part of our looping daily program.  From the moment we get out of bed in the morning, nearly all of our actions are manufactured. The time we wake up, whether we shower or brush our teeth, the clothes we put on, the food we eat for breakfast, and all that plays out over the course of a day is largely pre-determined. Everything, from what we do for a living to the forms of recreation we participate, in is an element of culture. The all-encompassing power a culture wields is very much responsible for how its membership behaves and judges the behaviour of others, as well as the patterns of thought and the modes of communication that are used in everyday life. Thus our hopes and dreams, our fears and insecurities, our goals for the future, and how it is we go about achieving them are all products of acculturation.

Life, however, is changing.

Today the world is smaller than it has ever been at any point in human history. Only about a hundred years ago the power of flight had yet to be mastered, satellites did not exist, and the Internet was an unfathomable science-fiction fairy tale. Life was much more isolated, fixed, and concrete compared to the communal, ever-shifting, and porous experience of today’s very accessible sphere of influence. In the massive scope of time, it was until only yesterday that an individual was born into a culture and spent a lifetime knowing little, or nothing at all, about the many other civilizations that make up our world’s diverse and colourful population. We were born, raised, married, and lived out our entire lives within the same geographic region, amidst the same people, and same values until finally passing on. In fact, many still do the same today. With that said, we now find ourselves in the midst of an extraordinary time where the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, from cultures the world over is readily available. The normative and cognitive alternatives of societies from virtually every corner of the planet are now a point and click or a plane ride away. By extension, a newly eclectic and incomprehensible form of acculturation is now at the dawn of creating a never before imaginable planetary matrix for the inhabitants of our global village. What the result will be is still unknown, but the world is evolving at a faster pace than it ever has before and quite simply, it’s an amazing time to be alive.

With the newly forming global village in a culturally embryonic state, our out-dated Cold War, binary conflict perspective of the human endeavour still desperately grabs a hold of us as we step further and further away from the past, in hopes of continuing to dominate our psychological approach to that which is different. Although we ravenously ingest daily doses of information and see more and more everyday that there are indeed alternatives to the world that is our own, our collective egocentric narcissism often impedes our ability to accept and understand. The mass media, television, and film industries in every corner of this cultural war program their masses with the stereotypical images of the other, the result often being that the unknown is seen as strange, confusing, mysterious and inferior. We instinctually judge competing alternatives of life by our own standards and unfortunately, such an attitude is as human as human can be. Ethnocentrism is a term that describes the condition of judging, often in pejorative terms, other cultures according to the usually taken for granted assumptions of one’s own society. Ethnocentricity is a feeling that one’s own group has a mode of living, a set of values, and a cache of adaptation patterns that are superior to others and although not always, is at times combined with a generalized contempt for members of other groups. We are all indeed ethnocentric to varying degrees due to the inescapable fact that we are born into a culture and cling to its ethos as a safeguard against chaos and disorder. It seems we all need to know where we come from, who we are and why it is we believe. Moral psychology aside, touchstones are an important part of the human experience.

Perhaps, the most common expression of ethnocentricity is the belief that one’s own standard of values is universal and that the other is the only group being programmed with pre-determined information.  The unspoken and usually unrecognised assumption implicit in any kind of cross cultural analysis, is that the values and practices of the culture which the individual writer or researcher happens to belong to are objectively better, or at the very least the standard, against which others are to be judged. By extension, when we immerse ourselves in cross-cultural comparison via living within the walls of another way of life we constantly make assumptions. We are not even aware that we are being ethnocentric, as we cannot understand that we indeed cannot understand. Even when we recognize the ignorance of our own ethnocentric tendencies and genuinely attempt to be a non-partisan and open-minded agent operating within the program of a foreign culture, things are no less difficult to accept. Our social conditioning cannot be removed like a suit of clothing, as it is as much a part of our internal hardware as the blood that flows through our veins. A transfusion, however, is possible.

I have learned that patience, willingness, time, and simple exposure to the elements of life will always bear the fruit of freedom, as the reflection of ourselves can be seen in almost any human soul. In the end, the post-modern world presents us all with a rich and many-sided reflection of human totality and exposure and experience will always bring hope and understanding. The borderless realm of our new world makes for some never before possible unions of thought and circumstance. Such a perspective offers an all-inclusive freedom, as identity, community, and even reality are no longer restricted by the controlling definitions of yesterday. Post-modernism critiques the controlling grand narratives of our past, which at one time, readily controlled our ideological world.  Today, things are so very different. We are now no longer simple and concrete agents, but complex figures of difference and identity. As the world becomes smaller and smaller, how it is we define ourselves entails an infinite number of substitutions and possibilities. Cultural analysis and the definition of identity itself can no longer focus on culture as the making of history, but on the unchosen conditions which fuel the very process of history’s production.

Those working within the Canadian settlement sector are privileged with being safely nestled within the comforting embrace of our own culture, while still absorbing the world and its vast cornucopia of values, mores and customs each and every day. And despite this, and even with my being an international citizen, I still sometimes have to remind myself to look through the lenses of another when seeing what lay in front of them, when searching to understand just what they see and feel and hope. But that's a good thing, I've decided; it's what draws me to the work I do and as an inverted reflection, it is what draws people from around the world the doors of my country, the home I am so proud to call me own.

In the end - and to boil this long and at times abstruse rant down to its simplest form - I continue to have faith in the betters angels of our nature. I continue to hope...

Rural Ethiopia, Lalibela


CFN Productions - Ethnicity Catering

EthniCity Catering, provided through Immigration, Refugee & Immigration Canada (IRCC), the United Way and catering sales, is a social enterprise of the Centre for Newcomers that provides transitional employment and training for immigrant and refugee women and men, and a multi-ethnic menu for Calgary customers. Offering a temporary and part-time Canadian job, along with training to work in a commercial kitchen, the program also presents the opportunity to learn essential life skills and workplace training, along with a food safety card from Alberta Health Services and support in looking for permanent work. For a more detailed description and a peek inside the kitchen, watch EthniCity Catering Program Manager and Chef Mark Sefton talk about this unique CFN venture below.


Ethnicity Catering - Food From Around The World from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Rocky Mountain Orchestra & Steinway Donate Tickets to CFN for Upcoming Performance

In the midst of the 2016 Alberta economic downturn, 35 forward-looking musicians banded together to form the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra.  As of November 2016, the Roster is in excess of 50 players.  The orchestra hopes to satisfy a cultural desire among Albertans, regardless of where they live, for accessible programming of excellent Orchestral Music.  We believe that the vast repertoire of Western Art Music should be accessible to all, and not only to urbanites who are fortunate to be immersed in thriving artistic and cultural scenes.

Classical music is sometimes considered elitist and snobbish.  We aim to challenge and change this misconception.  We think classical music is for everyone.  Your favourite movie is filled with Classical masterpieces, light classics, opera gems, and of course, movie soundtracks written especially for each film (just think Star Wars or Indiana Jones).  The RMSO endeavours to include selections from all genres of Orchestral Music in each of its concerts.  We guarantee there is something for everyone.

This Friday, November 18 at 7:30 pm an historic concert by the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra, sponsored by the Steinway Piano Gallery Calgary, to commemorate the closing of the Jubilee Year of Mercy will take place at St. Mary's Cathedral, with partial proceeds from the concert will be donated to the Cathedral's Music Program. The evening's performance includes Mozart's Piano Concert #21 and Dvorak's Symphony # 9 (From the New World) and will include special guest pianist Derek Chiu.

Steinway has graciously donated 25 tickets to CFN for the event and we would like to send our many thanks for their generosity. Exposing newcomers to the arts and providing them with the opportunity to take in the rich culture of the local community is an important part of becoming a part of the city that now serves as their home. For more information visit the Rocky Mountain Symphony Orchestra website. 

CFN Speaker Series - Disability & Displacement Panel


With the contemporary international refugee crisis and the rising numbers of displaced marginalized social groups seeking immigration or refugee status, settlement sectors around the world are struggling to meet the demands for help and support. Within this global reality, marginalized social groups such as people with disabilities are the first to fall through the cracks. These experiences serve as a reminder of the important role that settlement sectors can and should play to prevent such a fate. Such circumstances leads one to ask what can we do differently in supporting the settlement and integration experiences for immigrants and refugees with disabilities?

The CFN Speaker Series continues November 30th right here at the Centre, with special guest presenter Dr. Yahya El-Lahib of the University of Calgary. Joining the evening's panel is Dr. E. Anne Hughson, an Associate Professor in Community Rehabilitation and Disability Studies, University of Calgary, a Registered Psychologist and a member in good standing with the College of Alberta Psychologists (CAP). Prior to joining the University of Calgary in 1985, Anne had an extensive background in working directly with families and individuals with development disabilities, in particular in addressing issues of violence and abuse, sexual assault, emotional and behavioural concerns related to disability.

She has continued that work through her research, teaching and volunteer roles. She is a recipient of the Faculty of Education Excellence in Teaching Award and the author and co-author of a number of texts, chapters and articles on a wide range of disability-related subjects. She has lectured and taught in many countries including, Mexico, United Kingdom, Spain, Malta, Russia, USA, Australia, S. Africa, Ireland and New Zealand. As a researcher in disability studies and a teacher in program evaluation and consultation, community development, reflective practice, advocacy and leadership, her work is grounded in the lived experiences of people with disabilities and their families.

The panel discussion will include the troubling dominant misconceptions about immigrants and refugees with disabilities to highlight the actual and potential contributions that they make to the Canadian local and national fabric. Throughout this discussion, key recommendations for the settlement sector will be provided to improve the quality of services for immigrants and refugees with disabilities.

For more information about this November 30th CFN event, give us a call at 403-569-3325. 

Monday, November 14, 2016

CFN Kicks of its United Way Workplace Campaign

United Way partners with all areas of the community to get to the root causes of social issues and build a great city for everyone. For over 75 years, thousands of Calgarians have helped us make this meaningful and measurable difference by getting involved and giving generously during our annual workplace campaign. United Way’s 2015 Campaign raised $55.2M to invest in the community and move us closer to our goal of making Calgary a great city for everyone.

Workplace campaigns bring organizations closer by promoting team building and enhancing morale – at every level. Like a heartbeat, they pulse with energy and enthusiasm. And, they build a stronger community and are a source of pride for employees.

This year's United Way campaign at CFN is scheduled during the week of November 14 to 18. Daily activities planned throughout the week include Zumba, silent auctions,  contests and more. We thank you for your support in the previous years and look forward to another fun, successful campaign!

CFN Visits Canada's National Music Centre

What we do, what we watch,  read, and listen to is ultimately who we are. The transformation of an identity, be it collective or individual, is determined by a society made up of social and political points of view that have been developed over time. Music, without question, plays an integral part in the development of and influence on identity.


Songs serve to bring groups of people together and even to move them towards a common action. Perhaps above all else,  music helps express and understand common emotions. By extension, they express widely-shared values or experiences that help define a group’s identity and the solidarity that binds them together. Music is culture and the sharing of such is an essential ingredient for us to understand each other.  It seems like now, as much as it ever has been, this would be an important thing to remember. This is why Canada's National Music Centre is a truly special place.

The National Music Centre at Studio Bell is a platform on which Canadians can build stronger relationships with each other and explore the power of music and for those new to our country - a place where one can see, in a truly relatable and palpable way, the development of Canadian culture. Music defines our experience, and now Canada has a national space that honours and celebrates music. There are five floors of exhibitions to explore that tell the story of music in Canada, celebrate music icons at the Canadian Halls of Fame, along with interactive instrument installations and our vocal booths for all to enjoy. For more information visit there website. 

CFN Recognises National Addictions Awareness Week

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse joins organizations across the country each year in observing National Addictions Awareness Week. The week highlights issues and solutions to help address alcohol and other drug-related harm, while providing an opportunity for Canadians to learn more about prevention, to talk about treatment and recovery, and to bring forward solutions for change.

This year, National Addictions Awareness Week coincides with Canada’s Opioid Conference and Summit, which takes place on Friday and Saturday, November 18–19, in Ottawa. The objective of the conference and summit is to bring together experts to discuss the current opioid crisis in Canada and identify levers for change. The desired outcome is a Joint Action Plan with a prioritized set of actions and a commitment to transparency.

When it comes to problematic substance use and addiction, there is a lack of understanding of the science behind these issues, and there is a clear imbalance between the investment required and the impact of substance use disorders and addiction on our society. This week both reminds us of the progress we have made as a country in this area, but also that there is much more to be done.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Indigenous Education Initiative @ CFN

CFN is proud to introduce a new initiative that addresses the historic injustice and historic trauma that have contributed to deep social, cultural, economic and spiritual challenges for Canada’s Indigenous people. The negative impacts of specific historical experiences such as colonization, residential school system, loss of cultural identity have had negative impacts that are very well known to and felt by the Indigenous people of Canada. And historic trauma proponents suggest that, people who were not born before colonization, can still be impacted by its negative effects. In the face of such overwhelming evidence, it is interesting that fewer newcomers to Canada understand the depth and breadth of these devastating and everyday experiences faced by Canada’s Indigenous population. In other words, there is absence of information in newcomer communities on Indigenous issues in Canada, which in turn poses a problem for individuals and communities interested in discussing changes in the lives of Canada’s First Nations people (Aboriginal Healing Foundation, 2005). One of the recommendations made in the Truth and Reconciliation is for the information kit for newcomers to be revised “to reflect a more inclusive history of the diverse Indigenous peoples of Canada including information about the Treaties and the history of residential schools” (TRC, 2015, p.10). This initiative seeks to narrow the information and knowledge gap that exists in newcomer populations in Calgary through educational workshops on Indigenous matters by forging meaningful partnerships with Calgary-based organizations to address challenges that Indigenous people face.
Evening Indigenous Education Workshop @ CFN

Our ultimate goal is to support efforts aimed at ending cycles of systemic discrimination and abuse faced by Indigenous people through culturally appropriate educational workshops on Indigenous issues, meaningful partnerships that seek to create alliances for public education and awareness among partners and within the broader community.

This initiative will combine culturally-appropriate educational workshops on matters identified by Indigenous people as relevant to newcomers’ understanding of the history of Canada’s Indigenous community. This series of workshops for Centre for Newcomers’ staff, service users and newcomer communities will include issues related to historic injustice and trauma; Indigenous peoples’ rich history and culture. A suite of workshops series will be developed and offered to all Centre for Newcomers’ staff and to all service users of the Centre’s programs. These workshops will be offered by Indigenous scholars and elders in formats consistent with Indigenous cultures and values.

Workshop Facilitator U of C Assistant Prof Dustin Louie
The rationale is that engaging in ongoing public dialogues, enhancing professional development and training for public servants, strengthening intercultural competency in Indigenous matters are all part of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s call to action aimed at addressing historic trauma and historic injustice of Canada’s Indigenous peoples (TRC, 2015)

For more photos of our recent workshop CLICK HERE and for more information on the initiative please contact the Centre for Newcomers.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

CFN Productions - The Real Me Program @ CFN

The Real Me Program at CFN is one of our most collaborative and unique initiatives. Part of Identity-Based Wraparound Intervention and working in partnership with the University of Calgary, Calgary Police Services, and the evaluation team of Guyn Cooper Research Associates, Real Me identifies youth between the ages of 12 and 24, either immigrants or first generation Canadians, currently involved with or at risk of gang related involvement. 

The program is unique as it focuses on strengthening the identity of our youth by helping them find a balance between their cultural identity and their Canadian identity. Real Me staff facilitate a support team compromised of professional and natural supports who work on a coordinated plan with youth, helping them set and achieve long term goals. The program also provides the opportunity for youth and families to either find or restore their sense of cultural self and identity, while encouraging the question - who do i want to be? By extension, youth are rooted in a sense of self while minimising the search for belonging that can make them vulnerable to gang life. For more information on the program or to find out how you can get involved visit our website. 

The Real Me Program @ CFN from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

First Book Canada donates 300+ Books to CFN Library

First Book Canada provides access to new books for children in need. To date, First Book Canada has distributed more than 4.5 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families throughout Canada. First Book Canada is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education by making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis.

First Book Canada is uniquely positioned to become a leader in providing digital resources so that children in need don’t miss out. No matter how formats and technologies change, children from low-income families will still need access to rich and varied content. First Book Canada is helping guide the publishing industry as it evolves so that all children can benefit from new technologies and flourish as readers.

A big and heartfelt thanks to First Book Canada from all of us here at CFN for your generosity and all the work you do throughout the country. Keep up the amazing work! 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

SmartSAVER's Online Canada Learning Bond Application

Currently, over 1.4 million children in low and modest income families in Canada are missing out on significant federal education funding because they don't have a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). Earlier this month, www.SmartSAVER.org launched a new online application form specifically created to help these families open RESPs and access free education funding through the Canada Learning Bond. The Bond is a contribution of up to $2,000 to help families kick-start their saving for their child's education.

In a joint initiative, BMO, Meridian, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank, TD and Vancity are all supporting SmartSAVER by waiving their usual fees and minimum contribution requirements for lower income families that open RESPs and want to access the Canada Learning Bond. Families can apply for the Canada Learning Bond through SmartSAVER's online application form in less than 10 minutes and choose any of six participating credit unions and banks to open their RESP with $0. The user-friendly application is supported in five languages (English, French, Spanish, Mandarin and Punjabi). Now embedded int CFN's website, you can apply your Canada Learning Bond by simply clicking here. 

To learn more about the Canada Learning Bond watch below.

Monday, November 7, 2016

CFN Productions - EthniCity Catering Series

EthniCity Catering, provided through Immigration, Refugee & Immigration Canada (IRCC), the United Way and catering sales, is a social enterprise of the Centre for Newcomers that provides transitional employment and training for immigrant and refugee women and men, and a multi-ethnic menu for Calgary customers. Offering a temporary and part-time Canadian job, along with training to work in a commercial kitchen, the program also presents the opportunity to learn essential life skills and workplace training, along with a food safety card from Alberta Health Services and support in looking for permanent work.

CFN Productions will roll out a new original series on EthniCity Catering soon, bringing you into the kitchen, talking to the people who make it happen and sharing with you the passion and love that goes into each and every dish. A quick peek can be seen below and watch out for our first episode next week when we talk to EthniCity Catering Program Manager and Chef Mark Sefton.

EthniCity Catering @ CFN from CFN Productions on Vimeo.

Friday, November 4, 2016

CFN Podcast Centre - LGBTQ Awareness in Canada's Settlement Sector

LGBTQ rights in Canada are some of the most advanced in the world.  Same-sex marriage was legalized in eight of ten provinces and one of three territories beginning in 2003 and on July 20, 2005, Canada became the first country outside Europe and only the fourth country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide after the enactment of the Civil Marriage Act.  Same-sex adoption has also been legal in all provinces and territories under varying rules. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in employment, housing, and public and private accommodations is banned nationwide. Transgender people are allowed to change their legal gender in all provinces and territories under varying rules. In the face of  these legal and cultural shifts, there is a gap for those new to Canada, and both the social landscape that has resulted, and the rights now afforded to the LGBTQ community. For more on this topic, tune into this week's  CFN Podcast right here.