Collaboration Forum – BRIDGES 2017

BRIDGES 2017 is a city-wide Collaboration and Partnership Forum that brings together service provider representatives from across the City of Toronto and from multiple sectors to discuss, share experiences and learn about collaboration and partnership building. It was held on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at Tropicana Community Services and was very successful with over 120 participants in attendance.

The event focused on the theme of collaborating to address complex and emerging needs and provided a platform to discuss learnings from recent events around the Syrian refugee resettlement initiative, network and identify ideas and opportunities for future collaborations and action.

Forum materials and presentations will be posted below in the coming days and weeks. 

Panel Discussion: Collaboration in Action – The Refugee Resettlement Initiative: Lesson Learned and Opportunities for the future


  1. Vera Dodic, Manager, Toronto Newcomer Office, City of Toronto.
  2. Ellen Woolaver, Sponsorship Coordinator, Christie Refugee Welcome Centre.
  3. Huda Bukhari, Executive Director, Arab Community Centre of Toronto.

Panelists reflected on the recent response to the Syrian refugee crisis and how agencies, government, the community and many new stakeholders banded together to respond. Their presentations addressed the followings;

  • What the we can learn from this and other refugee movements over time about collaboration and working together?
  • What were successes, stumbling blocks and lessons learned, and what are still emerging needs?
  • How can we apply learnings towards the future to continue successful collaborations, expand on promising practices and take advantage of opportunities to work together with an expanding group of stakeholders, including intersections between service sector, government, the private refugee sponsorship community and ordinary citizens? 


Concurrent Workshops 

Workshop 1:  Strategies for building mutually beneficial partnerships regardless of agency size


  1. Fatima Filippi, Executive Director, Rexdale Women’s Centre
  2. Corina Barbul, Regional Advisor, Ontario Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration

Organizational partnerships can be challenging and rewarding, and are often a requirement for funding. Collaborations between small and big organizations may face additional challenges due to differences in capacity and resources. This workshop will explore how to build long-term equitable partnerships among agencies of different size and resources, when and why to partner or not, including tools for assessing organizational capacity and readiness for partnership. It also includes a presentation on the funders’ perspective on collaboration and partnerships.

Presentations and Materials:

Workshop 2:  Building partnerships with Islamic institutions


  1. Nuzhat Jafri, President, Canadian Council of Muslim Women
  2. Bushra Yousuf, Team Lead Syrian Settlement Support, Islamic Institute of Toronto
  3. Tina Aseffa, Settlement Coordinator, Muslim Association of Canada`

Islamic institutions one of the  key connectors in the settlement landscape and a trusted source for many newcomers. Partnerships among service provider organizations and Islamic institutions can greatly contribute to a seamless support system for newcomers and a successful settlement experience. Building partnerships can be challenging however due to a variety of factors such as mandates, time, resources, differences in the system, etc.

In this workshops participants learned more about the diverse landscape and structure of Islamic institutions and build a better understanding as a foundation for mutually beneficial collaborations. Presentations will include examples of successful partnerships and explore promising practices and approaches.

Presentations and Materials:

Workshop 3:  Collaborating to better support Syrian newcomer youth


  1. Rakan Alkhattabi – Settlement Worker in Schools, Settlement Education Partnership, Catholic Crosscultural Services
  2. Manimolie Kanagasabapathy, Settlement Worker in Schools, Settlement Education Partnership, Catholic Crosscultural Services

Over half of Syrian newcomers are children and youth. Engaging Syrian youth and facilitating their transition to available services and supports is crucial for settlement success. Learning from past experiences and building on Toronto Newcomer Office’s August 2016 Open Dialogue session on Supporting Syrian Newcomer Youth, this workshop delved deeper into successes and challenges of settlement and integration support for newcomer youth and how to bridge them to programs and services. It focused on examples and group discussion to explore current challenges, emerging trends and practical approaches to successful cross-collaboration to better connect Syrian newcomer youth with the broader community and service system.


Workshop 4:  Working together to support newcomers’ mental health


  1. Abigail Jackman, Mental Health Counselor, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture
  2. Erin Physick, Manager of Youth Outreach Services, East Metro Youth Services

Many recent Syrian and other newcomers need support dealing with trauma and mental health concerns. Accessing mental health services can be a challenge for many newcomers. How can settlement, community and mental health care providers work well together to effectively support newcomers with trauma and mental health needs? Presenters will discuss how we as part of a service system can be more responsive and effective in helping newcomers deal with mental health challenges and bridge newcomer services and mainstream mental health services. Presenters will also touch on how to support staff affected by vicarious trauma.  

Organizer of BRIDGES 2017 Collaboration Forum

The Forum was organized by the Toronto East Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership in collaboration with all Toronto Quadrant LIPs, the Toronto Newcomer Office and Polycultural Immigrant and Community Services. 

Please find more information on the organizers by clicking on the link below:

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