President’s Message

I am honoured as President of COSTI to be part of the organization’s 70th anniversary celebration and able to share a few highlights of our long and rich history of serving newcomers and the most vulnerable in our community. We have touched many people throughout the years, including over 39,000 this past year.

COSTI’s commitment to help newcomers dates back to 1952. While the volume and services have changed over the decades, the vision and mission have remained consistent; helping to build a strong and diverse community through the delivery of resettlement, education and employment services. Our clients have also needed added support from many of our social services programs that are designed to be culturally sensitive and are having a very strong impact. In the early years, much of the work centred around welcoming and settlement services which then moved onto re-training for injured workers. From there, our counselling services expanded to serving many immigrant communities, leading COSTI to expand our settlement services for immigrants and refugees. COSTI continues to develop programs which respond to the community’s needs and responds with thoughtfulness. COSTI has grown in partnership with many agencies to build a stronger society.

Before looking to the future, it is important to acknowledge the past. We are especially grateful for the 35 years of service by our recently retired Executive Director Mario J. Calla who has provided strong leadership and even greater compassion for newcomers. Mario has been a rational voice at many government round tables where he has advocated for all immigrants. Mario believes that “a prosperous and inclusive Canada is built on the success of every individual.” He has been described as a “Trailblazer in the Settlement Sector.” Mario was key in ensuring that COSTI successfully navigated the pandemic with action plans under different waves of lock-down and re-opening. We are all grateful to Mario for his unwavering commitment to improving our clients’ lives and enabling their independence. His talents enabled COSTI to support migration and his exemplary planning and execution skills ensured that the many emergency settlement needs of Syrian, Afghan and Ukrainian newcomers were addressed successfully.

Again, thank you, Mario, for 35 successful years of service to COSTI.

COSTI welcomed Samina Sami as Chief Executive Officer in July 2022 and we are very excited to work with Samina who is aligned with our vision and values.

Samina has a proven track record of dynamic leadership over her 30 years within the not-for-profit sector. Her diverse career has encompassed strategy-setting, service and program delivery, policy, and communications with several community partners. She is a well-respected leader, and her past contributions are significant, especially the establishment of community-driven programs. Samina brings strong leadership skills and operational experience to COSTI and will be instrumental in the continued growth of COSTI. She has a personal connection to settlement services as a child of immigrants and began her career in the settlement sector. Samina is committed to giving back to the community and has a focus on access to education for diverse communities.

We look forward to working with Samina with our shared commitment and passion for our staff and volunteers, while strengthening our relationship with funders and partners to continue to make a difference in the lives of newcomers. The Board of Directors are happy to welcome Samina! 

Together, we will continue to respond to changes in our health, social and economic environments and look to enhancing our partnerships with community organizations and funders in order to meet the needs of diverse communities, regardless of the necessitated changes in service delivery models. Our collective achievements, in turn, contribute to Canada’s success.  

My thanks and appreciation to my fellow Board members, COSTI staff, partners and volunteers who have demonstrated and continue to demonstrate their commitment to embracing change during this unprecedented time, both in their professional and personal lives.

Pina Alberelli-Arone