I joined COSTI in July 2022, and it has also been humbling to participate in COSTI’s 70th anniversary celebrations. I have also had the privilege to see the extraordinary work being done by staff across the organization, including employment, social services, counselling and mental health services, refugee services, housing, education, and skills development. Our staff also work hard every day ensuring strong financial, human resources, information and technology, and communications and marketing plans and programs are in place to support our programs.
In addition, I have had the opportunity to engage with many clients who have shared their life stories with me, including fleeing wars, leaving their home countries and starting new lives in Canada, finding housing for a large family, securing meaningful employment to support themselves, and learning new employment-related skills and English to ensure they settle successfully in Canada.
As we look ahead, there are many exciting developments we are currently engaged in and plan to build upon. Our staff have been reviewing our hybrid and digital services with our clients to see how we can scale up and continue the convenience of both remote and in-person services and classes.
We are planning, with a network of community partners, the resettlement of Afghans and we are supporting Ukrainian newcomers with a myriad of services. Our staff have brought deep experience and empathy to this work, appreciating the impact on clients who are displaced and traumatized.
We also have plans to continue to support employment and skills training to ensure our clients can build new skills and secure employment. Our employment, education and skills training staff are providing sector-specific language classes and bridge training programs with the latest digital technology, language skills, and health care, to name a few and we are planning to build upon these services.
We are also planning to continue our efforts to promote equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) by embedding EDI in our policies, practices, and continuous learning initiatives, ensuring that we continue to model inclusion and advocate for and support marginalized communities.
We will also honour our commitment to Truth and Reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples. We are planning to continue to develop our understanding of current and historical relationships with Indigenous Peoples and we commit to our responsibilities for reconciliation.
These are some of the many initiatives we are planning. I look forward to an exciting, collaborative year ahead with our clients, staff, partners, and funders, with the mutual objective of serving our clients with excellence in service delivery and accelerated paths to settlement.
Lastly, my gratitude to the staff and Board members who helped me in my new role and my deep appreciation for our funders and community partners for their continuous support. I am so fortunate to be part of a community making meaningful social impact everyday.