CCS has long been a proponent of building inclusive, diverse communities and that all people should be treated with dignity, respect, understanding and without discrimination. Our programs empower newcomers, immigrants and refugees of all religions, ethnicities, cultural backgrounds and sexual orientations to settle, integrate and succeed in Canada.
We are proud of our mission and it was with this tradition in mind that the we recently undertook an important step in the agency’s evolution with the launch of services designed to support the LGTBTQ+ community.
Ontario receives hundreds of thousands of newcomers every year. Among them, members of LGBTQ+ communities who have endured extreme hardships and experienced trauma in many cases due to discrimination and repressive government policies in their countries of origin. However, services available for LGBTQ+ newcomers in Toronto are mostly concentrated in the downtown core, leaving many living across the GTA with no option other than a long commute to access them.
In response, CCS has established a hybrid delivery model at one of our Scarborough locations, blending in-person and online services. The online component is intended to not only serve LGBTQ+ newcomers who live far away from the downtown core, but also to serve clients who may not want to come into a physical location due to inaccessible public transit, work or family commitments, or stigma. (Currently, due to COVID-19, the delivery mode is now mainly online.)
The program features one-on-one sessions with the creation of a personalized settlement plan, based on individual needs. Information and referrals in areas such as employment, housing, and transportation are provided. LGBTQ+ specific topics are covered, including affirming health care, LGBTQ+ rights, and gender changes on identification documentation. Group sessions aim to offer general information and since newcomers tend to be socially isolated — even more so for LGBTQ+ newcomers – the sessions are tangible opportunities for like-minded newcomers to connect and share experiences.
The program aims to establish CCS as a safe and affirming place for LGBTQ+ newcomers to call ‘home’ and develop a sense of belonging.
“All newcomers deserve services and a community for them to thrive in Canada,” said Chi Cheng Wat, the program lead.
Chi Cheng and her team are also working with the Toronto East Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership, a CCS-lead community-based project that involves diverse service providers and stakeholders focused on the needs of newcomers in Scarborough, to reach out to LGBTQ+ communities to generate awareness around the offering and expand the client base.
For more information, please contact Chi Cheng at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at: 416.757.7010 ext. 3212.