Collaboration Forum – BRIDGES 2019

BRIDGES 2019 is an annual Collaboration and Partnership Forum for service providers organized by the Toronto East Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership (TEQ LIP) in collaboration with the Toronto Quadrant LIPs and the City of Toronto Newcomer Office.

Objective of the BRIDGES Forum is to help enhance and build the capacity of organizations of varying sizes and resources to engage effectively and impactfully in collaboration and partnerships and achieve results through collective action.

The population in the Greater Toronto Area is growing and municipal boundaries become more porous as people and organizations move between regions. Service systems, however, vary significantly from one municipality to the next. Among a variety of other topics, this year’s BRIDGES Forum included a focus on collaboration across municipal boundaries. In a workshop format, participants had the opportunity to explore the need and opportunities for collaboration with service providers not only in Toronto, but also the surrounding municipalities of Durham, York and Peel.

The Forum has included a panel of funders and sessions exploring topics such as working together to support vulnerable newcomers; building partnerships among settlement and indigenous organizations and with the healthcare system; and using technology effectively, to name a few. In addition, the Forum provided space for networking and discussing opportunities for collaborative action.

PANEL Discussion: Supporting collaborations – resources and emerging trends from the perspective of funders

Resources are crucial to supporting and sustaining collective work towards longer-term impact. This session brought together a diverse panel of funders in conversation about their current funding priorities; how they support collaborative projects; and to share some successes and promising practices of funded collaboratives.


Jehad Aliweiwi, Executive Director, The Laidlaw Foundation

Daniele Zanotti, CEO, United Way of Greater Toronto

Michael Dicio, Branch Manager, Royal Bank of Canada

Rupal Shah & Kevin Reigh, Strategic Programs Manager, Toronto Arts Council

Moderator: Lee Soda, Executive Director, Agincourt Community Services Association 

WORKSHOP 1: Working together to support refugee claimants

Presenters in this workshop discussed the current context, existing supports, gaps and challenges in supports for refugee claimants, as well as the developing political landscape and its effect on public perceptions regarding refugee claimants, ended with a discussion on ways each agency can contribute to closing service gaps by working together.

Presenter: Nicholas Keung, Reporter – Immigration Issues, Toronto Star

Dan Rutembesa, Director of Shelter and Housing, Sojourn House

Presentation: Refugee Determination Process_by Dan Rutembesa

FacilitatorPooja Chaudhary, Community Services Supervisor, TDSB

WORKSHOP 2: Collaboration across regions

Exploring possibilities and opportunities for collaboration with agencies in surrounding municipalities – York, Durham, Peel. Clients move to different municipalities; service providers can benefit from learning about the different service systems in these municipalities to connect clients as they move. This workshop aimed to open lines of communication among service providers across municipalities in the GTA.


Nation Cheong, Vice President, Community Opportunities and Mobilization, United Way of Greater Toronto

Presentation: Regional Challenges Local Action to Drive Systems Change_Nation Cheong

Rodel Imbarlina-Ramos, Director, Peel Newcomer Strategy Group

Pam DeWilde, Manager, Welcome Centre Immigrant Services Pickering & Janice Babcock, Manager, Welcome Centre Immigrant Services Markham North

Presentation: Helping Newcomers and Immigrants in Durham and York Regions_Pam DeWilde & Janice Babcock

Facilitator:  Renee Boi-Doku, Urban Issues Team, Toronto Public Health

WORKSHOP 3: Building mutually beneficial collaborations among grassroots and mainstream agencies

From the perspective of one mainstream organization and a grassroots group, presenters in this workshop discussed how to build successful collaborations among large, mainstream organizations and grassroots groups. The approach one agency has taken to set up an organizational structure that facilitates trusteeship and collaboration was presented. 


Linda Ho, Coordinator of Trusteeships, St. Stephen’s Community House

Sam Khalil, Facilitator, SLYE Network

Presentation: Working with trustee Organizations

Tools: Trusteeship Handout

Facilitator:  Sana HafeezCommunity Engagement Coordinator, Toronto West LIP

WORKSHOP 4: Building capacity together

This interactive workshop engaged participants in a discussion about how to maximize resources for training and staff capacity building through collaboration. 

Presenter: Nadine Nasir, Adult Educator, Toronto South LIP, St. Stephen’s Community House

Presentation: Building Capacity Together

Facilitator: Kaitlin Murray, TEQ LIP Officer, Toronto East Quadrant Local Immigration Partnership.

WORKSHOP 5: Exploring common ground: Approaches to trauma-informed client care through an indigenous perspective

In this workshop, presenters used the experience of trauma – and trauma-informed approaches to our practice as service providers – as a bridge between newcomer and Indigenous communities. This session informed newcomer service providers about Indigenous issues and cultural considerations for providing trauma-informed care. 

Presenters: Paula Messina, Facilitator, Righting Relations and Suzanne Methot, Author and Community Worker, Dragonfly Consulting Services Canada

Presentation: Exploring Common Ground in Trauma-informed Care by Paula & Suzanne

Facilitator: Maimuna Gaye, Community Development Officer, City of Toronto Newcomer Office

WORKSHOP 6: Settlement and health care partnerships – strengthening collaboration

The well-being of newcomers is the business of both the health and social service sectors. However, within the not-for-profit system there are silos that exist as a result of differences in the way social, settlement, health care and other agencies are positioned and funded, resulting in an overall lack of collaboration between these sectors in planning and service delivery. This workshop explored the importance for the health care and settlement sectors to collaborate and promising approaches for how this can be done.


Ameera Hosein, Community Health Worker and Mira Dodig, Manager of Primary Health Care, Health Access Thorncliffe Park (HATP), The Neighbourhood Organization.

Presentation: HATP Partnership and Collaboration in Action_Ameera Hosein

Shankari Balendra, Settlement Program Manager, Access Alliance

Presentation: Health and Settlement A Collaborative Approach_Shankari Balendra

Facilitator: Kristy Macdonell, Manager – Patient and Community Engagement, Scarborough Health Network

WORKSHOP 7: Using technology to facilitate partnerships and collaboration

Technology can make our work easier and more efficient. However, picking the right tool for the purpose at hand can be a challenge. This workshop presented an in-depth look at selected technology tools that can assist organizations to work together, and that can be helpful in facilitating shared activities. 

Presenter: Marco Campana, Non-profit Communications Consultant

Presentation: Using technology to facilitate partnerships & collaboration

Keith Choy, Co-Founder, EPOCH

Facilitator: Thomas Puthenmadhom, Marketing Coordinator, Community Outreach & Workforce Development, Humber College.

Closing Address: Debbie Douglas, Executive Director, OCASI

Trends in the Settlement Sector and the Importance of Collaboration

Organizer of BRIDGES 2019 Collaboration Forum

The Forum is being 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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