Monday, May 30, 2016

ICU2 - Infant Care Under Two Program

Poverty in Alberta has increased at an alarming rate and this has been accelerated by the volatility of our economy. The biggest effect a society faces in the midst of such economic volatility is infant poverty.  Both economic and moral, the effects are immediate and long term. Healthy infant brain development is essential to addressing poverty, with nutrition, sleep and attachment being the most important contributing factors. Every infant's first two years should include access to the resources required to build a meaningful and fulfilling life. Studies repeatedly show those who do not - have an increased likelihood of addiction, lower graduation levels, a greater chance of incarceration, less chance of completing post-secondary education and the crossover of intergenerational poverty becomes a very real possibility as a result.

Some quick facts:
  • During the first three years of a child's life, the brain develops 700 neural connections per second
  • 60% of an infant's energy intake is used for brain growth 
  • By age 2, the brain stricture has the overall appearance of an adult brain
  • Infants spend twice as much time in REM sleep than adults
  • That fastest rate of brain development in a human life happens during infancy

As Canadians, Albertans and Calgarians we have long been a caring people with a history of philanthropy second to none. We simply do not turn a blind eye to those in need and this is where Neighbourlink's Infant Care Under two Program (ICU2) comes into play.  The ICU2 program vision is to advance infant health, specifically brain development, in the children of Calgary and all Alberta through education, nutrition and sleep supports.  A program based on science and need, delivered by professionals and carried out through collaboration and care, Neighbourlink’s ICU2 Program is important, relevant and needed. For a brief but detailed look at the program, its research and development, collaborative efforts and goals, simply CLICK HERE. It is a program that deserves everyone's attention. 

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Major Minor Music Project's 5th Show Benefit Concert for Fort Mac

Saturday May 28th will mark the fifth gig for the Major Minor Music Project. The monthly concerts promote artistic experimentation and excellence in a professional setting, leveraging industry standard technology to showcase music and arts. The events have fused with experiential learning opportunities and a volunteer-driven structure that engages young people and new Canadians in the arts, fosters inter-generational communication and gives constituents the skills necessary to pursue their creative and professional passions.

This Saturday has the biggest line-up yet with a number of bands from different genres with the added bonus of Food trucks being on site! More Importantly, all donations made at teh SHow will go to help For Mac Evacuees.Keep in mind the early 3pm start time and CIES will see you there!

Friday, May 20, 2016

CIES Attends 76th Social Media Breakfast

The Social Media Breakfast here in Calgary has been ongoing since November 2009. The monthly meeting of social media enthusiasts, is at a different location each month with venue sponsors providing space and speakers donating their time. Started by Scott Baird nearly 7 years ago, the event quickly grew from 20 or so participants to upwards towards 100 attendees monthly. Events continue to attract 100 + people, the steering committee has expanded to 9 members, and the brand now has 8 regular sponsors.

Hosted by the one and only Twitter Guru and Super Volunteer Donna McTaggart, today's SMBYYC venue was graciously provided by Wurst Restaurant and Bier Hall in the Mission District on 4th Street - hands down one of Calgary's best eateries. Calgary Co-op was on hand to talk about the work they are doing in the community, as well as to announce they have already raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars for Fort Mac and handed out free "Fort Mac Will Fight Back" T-shirts. A great organization called JobJar also was in attendance talk about the work they do, click here for more information on them. Once again a great morning was had by all in attendance with Calgary's tremendous sense community front and centre!  Thanks to Michelle Robinson from 12CSI for joining us and CIES will return to the next SMBYYC! 

Thursday, May 19, 2016

CIES Attends ICC Citizenship Ceremony

It takes courage to start fresh in a new country.

The Building Citizenship Program welcomes and celebrates more than 1,500 new citizens each year who choose to officially call Canada home. The program relies on a national network of volunteers to organize special community citizenship ceremonies with compelling roundtable discussions. Alongside partner Citizenship and Immigration Canada, ICC volunteers passionately work to create an event that celebrates new citizens while connecting them to their community. Ceremonies are hosted in welcoming public spaces (often cultural attractions that belong to our CAP program), and roundtable hosts are volunteers from the community – from neighbours to business professionals and city leaders. The roundtable discussions are at the heart of the ICC's community citizenship ceremonies. It's where new citizens, their guests and community members share stories, collectively reflecting on what it means to be Canadian..

Held at Vivo For Healthier GenerationsRabail Qasir, CIES Drop-In ESL Volunteer Tutor and CIES CEO Dr. Sally Zhao, attended the citizenship ceremony as volunteer roundtable hosts on behalf of the Institute for Canadian Citizenship. At the round table discussion were former CIES LINC student, Elham, her husband Ahmed, a former CIES Computer Training Program client, along with their son and daughter. After finishing studying at CIES, Elham has since become a Director at the Calgary Childcare Centre and Ahmed has successfully completed his Petroleum Engineering studies at SAIT. At the conclusion of the informal roundtable discussion, the official citizenship ceremony took place and the day's events were concluded by Aboriginal circle dancing and reception.

CIES was very proud to be part of the ceremony and to celebrate the momentus and happy day with new Canadians.  To see CIES very own Rabail Qasir talk about her own story of immigration and her time here at CIES working with newcomers to Canada click below.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

World Refugee Day - June 20th

For years, many countries and regions have been holding their own Refugee Days and even Weeks. One of the most widespread is Africa Refugee Day. The UN General Assembly, in December of 2000, adopted the resolution that marked the 50th anniversary of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees. The General Assembly therefore decided that June 20th would be celebrated as World Refugee Day.

People honour the spirit and courage of millions of refugees worldwide on World Refugee Day and it is a day to recognize the contributions of refugees in their communities. Organizations such as Amnesty International and the International Rescue Committee often get involved in various activities for the day.

Some communities dedicate an entire week to encourage people to think about the lives of refugees and the human right necessary to a secure place that one can call “home", while screenings of films about the lives of asylum seekers living in a western country are common. Regardless of how one commemorates World Refugee Day,  being aware of the grim fact that currently 60 million human beings worldwide are being forced to flee their homes due to war, conflict and persecution and how one can help them sits at the day's core. CIES will keep you updated on community events coming next month.

Community Investors XVII - Youth Central

The 16th non-profit highlighted in the  CIES Community Investors Series is Youth Central Founded nearly 25 years ago as Child and Youth Friendly Calgary, Youth Central envisions a society where all youth participate in shaping a vibrant community. This vision is based on the firm belief that young people who experience involvement and philanthropy at an early age grow up with an ongoing sense of responsibility. Youth in modern society are undervalued and should be challenged to do more: they need to be included in all aspects of community life.

Inspiring, engaging and celebrating youth through community participation via various initiatives, Youth Central provides youth the opportunity to volunteer, serve on steering committees, voice their opinions to business leaders and politicians, learn about the diversity in their community, serve on a youth foundation and develop citizenship skills. Youth Central achieves its mission by way of nine innovative programs and events – each with a different focus on youth engagement. The programs are primarily aimed at youth between the ages of 12-18.

When junior and senior high school aged youth get involved in Youth Central’s programs, they gain experience in areas of voluntarism, philanthropy, teamwork and leadership. In addition, youth enhance their self-esteem while making new friendships. The community is opened up to them and they learn about its rich diversity, at the same time gaining valuable employment skills to help prepare them for the future!

CIES would like to congratulate Youth Central on all their mazing work and thank them for building Calgary into a better city with a bigger heart in the process. For more information on their programs and how you can get involved visit their website. 

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Momentum's Free Money Party - Canada Learning Bond Enrolment Event

Long time CIES collaborator Momentum, founded in 1991, is one of Canada’s most successful Community Economic Development organizations. At Momentum, individuals and families take control of personal finances, secure meaningful employment, borrow and repay loans for business or education, and even purchase homes. Participants achieve these results through award-winning programs designed to build personal, financial and social assets. Additionally Momentum’s community leadership activities address the broader systemic issues that make it difficult for people in Alberta to exit poverty. The results are individuals and families with sustainable livelihoods, who are able to contribute to their community. Momentum conducts presentations at CIES several times a year and we count them as an invaluable partner in the services we provide our clients.

Momentum will be hosting an RESP Sign up event on June 2nd, 2:30-6:30 pm. This family friendly event will give parents the chance to open an RESP account for $0 at the bank of their choice. Eligible low income families can get up to $2000/ child from the Canada Learning Bond once they’ve opened the RESP. Banks in attendance include TD, RBC, CIBC, BMO, Scotiabank, ATB, First Calgary Financial and Servus Credit Union. Parents need to bring ID & SIN for themselves and their children in order to open the account on-the-spot. The event will also feature children’s activities, prizes, a photo booth & snacks! To register for this great event simply CLICK HERE. 

In the end Momentum envisions every person as having a sustainable livelihood who can contribute to their community and to work towards this vision, momentum partners with people living on low incomes to increase prosperity, and inspires the development of local economies with opportunities for all. CIES would like to extend a healthful thank you to Momentum for the incredible impact you have on the life of Calgarians  the last 25 years.

Monday, May 16, 2016

CIES Joins 12CSI In Its Mission

Late last week CIES attended the monthly 12CSI (Community Safe Initiative) meeting at the Dover Community Centre. The organization represents Crossroads, Malborough, Malborough Park, Applewood, Penbrooke, Forest Heights, Forest Lawn, Alberta Park / Radisson Heights, South View, Dover and Erin Woods and is a local crime prevention collaborative that fosters community action on the issue of crime prevention by providing support, facilitation and advocacy, thereby creating safer neighbourhoods for all who live, work and volunteer in the Twelve Communities. A truly collaborative approach that involves many local organizations and individuals,  multi-faceted strategies incorporating Community Education, Community Engagement, Community Energy and Community Evaluation serve as the 12CSI engine.

The organization's Planning Council, and its Action Committees believe every community member has the right to feel safe in their community and to be treated with dignity and respect. Their work aims to foster an enhanced feeling of community pride and a greater involvement of residents. This involvement includes children and youth which will lead to a reduction in youth crime, which by extension produces a greater understanding of our diverse community and a greater involvement from those within it to help eliminate hate crimes and build inclusion. Above all else, 12CSI 's ultimate goal is to be sustainable and effective organization that will raise community expectations and standards of the residents in the twelve communities.

CIES couldn't have been happier to attend the meeting and immediately joined the Diversity Committee. We look forward to attending each month in order to brainstorm, collaborate and strategize the best ways serve the community of Calgary. See you next month!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

CIES Attends Screening of Elder in the Making

Elder in the Making is an important film.

With the unjust stereotypes of Canada's Aboriginal population and the selective processing of the history of Southern Alberta sitting at it's core, Elder in the Making pairs two film makers, first generation Chinese Canadian Chris Hsuing and Blackfoot Cowboy SmithX, as they embark on a journey of discovery into Alberta's Blackfoot territory. Director Hsuing, with an underlying theme of reconciliation, sets out to explore the Blackfoot Nation, discovering he has much in common with his Aboriginal counterpart.

An emotional, educational and funny odyssey of experience, the film reveals the complexity of Indigenous culture and the historical Treaty 7, while exploring the idea of what it means to be an Elder and more importantly, the ownership and responsibility we all have of to pass on knowledge to the next generation. Simply put, the film is a must see for all Canadians.

I was fortunate enough to see both of these young film makers in person speaking about this film upon it's conclusion and if given the chance to hear them speak, don't pass on it. This interesting odd couple of brothers in arms carries the message of the film with both humour and empathy and it remains the same when seeing them in person.

Although unavailable on DVD at the moment, CBC has recently bought the broadcast rights for the film which means many will be able to see it soon. A special thanks to the artBOX on 17E for providing the space to screen this important film and most of all, to Chris and Cowboy for being there to share their work. For more photos of the event CLICK HERE.

Director Chris Hsuing and star Cowboy Smithx

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Family Bazaar Coming Soon!

Saturday March 21st come on down for an afternoon of community spirit, bargains, and fun at the Falconridge / Castleridge Family Bazaar. Open to all! There will be a photo booth, henna painting, free vending tables to sell used items, free coffee/tea, raffle, button-making, bike activities, & live performers! Book your table by March 14th to sell crafts, children's items, housewares, clothing, or pre-packaged food or register to perform. You can download your registration form here. See poster Below for contact details and see you there!

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

AAISA Announces New Membership Model

Celebrating its 35th anniversary, Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA) is a regionally and nationally recognized leader in the settlement and integration sector. AAISA’s mandate is to build sectoral capacity by providing member agencies that serve newcomers access to relevant and meaningful professional development opportunities, to act as a liaison with stakeholders, and provide a centre for knowledge, expertise, and leadership.

Now, for the first time, AAISA is opening up membership beyond the settlement sector. They are welcoming any non-profit organization that works with newcomer Canadians to become part of Alberta’s premiere association for settlement and integration. Members have access to initiatives such as training, professional development, and research designed to build capacity to serve newcomers. Learn more about how to become an AAISA Member.

In further development news, AAISA’s Learning Community is a new online tool containing practical resources and ongoing skill development for professionals working with newcomer Canadians. • Resource Database • Community Forum • Calendar of Events • Professional Development Information and Opportunities. Moreover, the Learning Community is launching with an extensive collection of anti-racism and anti-discrimination resources. Visit to access these resources and more! 

CIES is a proud and long time and member of AASIA and couldn't be happier to see them expanding their reach, as doing so only makes the sector stronger more capable of achieving its goals. Keep up the great work guys! 

Calgary Jobs, Information and Training

Here at CIES we always do our best to stay plugged into the Calgary community. so you can be too. From Day one CIES has always believed that strong community partnerships are the best way to have both a meaningful and sustainable impact on the life of immigrants here in Calgary.  We are affiliated with a number of key organizations throughout the city and this expansive network allows us to stay informed on your behalf. Below is a list of upcoming opportunities for a wide range of skills sets and experience levels to improve your skills, network and submit resumes for employment.Click on the provided posters for more details.


  • Community Futures Treaty 7 is hosting a Career Fair for First Nations and First Nations individuals with disabilities.  Attend on May 11 from 11:00 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Coast Plaza Hotel and Conference Centre.  


  • Fitness Industry Career CafĂ© - Come to the Central Branch of The Calgary Public Library on May 13 from noon to 1 p.m. to learn about careers in the fitness industry. 


  • The Residential and Commercial Installers program, offered by McBride Career Group, starts June 6. 


Monday, May 9, 2016

Calgary Refugees Give Back

If all the people currently in Canada, they may know best what it's like to run for their lives. And so, when residents desperate to flee the fire devouring their city began clogging up the highway out of Fort McMurray,  Syrian refugees who now call Calgary home could not only relate but immediately stepped up to help.

These newcomers are grateful for the generosity of Canadians, of Calgarians, they want to help in any way they can and in doing so, they're humanity is shining through. They’re only been in Canada for a few months, and have little money or possessions, but dozens of Syrian families have donated $5 to $20 to the drive, and in one case a five-year-old Syrian boy donated two of his toys and some storybooks to help those in need.

They have joined thousands of Canadians across the country in doing whatever they can to help a city devastated by the worst forest fire in Alberta's history and what is on track to become the biggest insurance event Canada has ever seen.

You too can help by donating to the Red Cross. Either text the word REDCROSS to 30333 (a confirmation text will appear before any money is accepted), or go here to help.
The thoughts of all of us here at CIES  are with the residents of Northern Alberta and all of those risking their lives to help

Friday, May 6, 2016

Major Minor Music Project To Have Two Shows in May

The month of May will see two shows put on by the Major Minor Music Project, May 14th and May 28th.  The line up for May's first date has already been set and can be seen below.

Fuelled by CIES volunteers, the events have fused with experiential learning opportunities and a volunteer-driven structure that engages young people and new Canadians in the arts. Major Minor also fosters inter-generational communication and gives constituents the skills necessary to pursue their creative and professional passions.  See you on the 14th!

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Soup Sisters and The CIES REDI Program

The CIES Refugee Drop and Integration (REDI) program is now in full swing and this past week received a donation from Soup Sisters here in Calgary. A delicious lunch was enjoyed by clients and CIES was privileged to have had the opportunity to work with the organization.

In January and February over 500 soup makers, 100 volunteers and 1300 Calgary students participated in Soup Sisters soup-a-thon events yielding 5000 servings of fresh soup for Syrian newcomer families. A large portion of containers have been delivered through the community by a variety of outreach agencies and there are still many more available.   If you have access to small freezer space, perhaps you would be able to grab a small inventory at a time for distribution.

Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers was founded in 2009 by Calgarian Sharon Hapton who had a very simple belief in the power of soup as a nurturing and nourishing gesture that could make a tangible difference. Hapton believed that two of societies most prevalent issues, domestic abuse and youth homelessness would benefit from the care and warmth that comes in a bowl of soup. A powerful message that says 'we care' is now being delivered to over 30 residential shelters across the country through home-made delicious soup made with the finest ingredients.

Thousands of community people are coming together across the country to produce over 10,000 servings of fresh and delicious soups for women, children and youth each month. Since March of 2009, over half a million servings of soup have been delivered to shelters from East to West, and there is a growing network of over 30,000 Soup Sisters and Broth Brothers participants across the country.

CIES would like to thank Soup Sisters for connecting our REDI Program with their amazing soup and for all the work they do in the community. For more information about Soup Sisters simply visit their website. To Learn more about the REDI Program (in both Arabic and English) simply click the video below.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

CIES Launches Instagram Account

CIES Communications could no longer resist the temptation. In the end, a CIES Instagram account was inevitable.

In April of 2012, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger (aged 28 and 26) sold their startup, Instagram, to Facebook. Facebook purchased the photo filter app 18 months after its launch for $1 billion: $300 million in cash, the rest in Facebook stock.

Instagram has since become full blown social media, with expanded video, group, and chat options and their latest adaptation,  taking a page from its parent Facebook, displaying posts by personal user relevance rather than in chronological order. Instagram users have shared over 30 billion photos to date, and now share an average of 70 million photos per day. Its no surprise that the app will bring in $600 million in mobile ad revenues worldwide this year, and $2.81 billion by 2017. And lastly, Instagram is considered the most important social network by more North American teens (at 34 percent) than any other network, including Facebook - becoming the go to social media of this generation,

In other words, resistance was futile. Follow us @ YYCCIES and see you on the grid!

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

CIES Community Investors XVI - Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation

The 16th non-profit highlighted in the CIES Community Investors Series is the Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation. We had yet to highlight a humane society in our series and thought it was high time to recognize the work of a non-profit here in Calgary that does its best to take care of and find home for those who cannot speak for themselves and often serve as our most loyal companions.

The Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation is a not-for-profit animal rescue based in Calgary. They are run independently and made up entirely of a dedicated group of volunteers. They work very hard to save dogs and cats in life-threatening situations and give them a second chance at life. They then focus on placing these amazing animals in the right family and creating what they refer to as a "pawsitive match".

Pawsitive Match saves dogs and cats facing life-threatening circumstances in Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The animals in their program come from shelters that have no choice but to euthanize due to over-crowding or because they are shutting down, as well as stray animals that have no home. They also help save animals on local reserves and on a case by case basis, they may assist with owner surrenders. In many cases they are the only hope these cats and dogs have, as many shelters come to them when they are out of options and They do not discriminate by age, size, breed, or location.

It all began with the efforts of two individuals with big hearts. Together they were successful in saving over 50 dogs from Mexico and placing them in loving, permanent homes. Their efforts didn't end there, however. They also worked together to recruit local Mexican volunteers for help in implementing a spay and neuter program, and for help in promoting responsible pet ownership. Other volunteers climbed on board and as of late spring of 2007, the group expanded into a new organization: "Pawsitive Match Rescue".

In the fall of 2011, Pawsitive Match evolved once more by incorporating as Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation. A Board of Directors was put in place to oversee the new not-for-profit corporation as it continued to grow. In May 2012 the Canada Revenue Agency granted Registered Charity status to Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation.

CIES would like to salute the Pawsitive Match Rescue Foundation for caring for those whose lives are completely dependent on those that will help care for them.  To help them show the world we are a caring nation committed to helping animals  lost, hungry, sick, abandoned, and have no one to love or speak for them visit their website. 

 "The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated". 


Monday, May 2, 2016

CIES @ The Major Minor Music Project's 3rd Show

Over the weekend CIES attended the Minor Music Project's 3rd gig at the artBOX in Forest Lawn. The brainchild of CIES' own Graham Mackenzie and fuelled by CIES volunteers, the events have fused with experiential learning opportunities and a volunteer-driven structure that engages young people and new Canadians in the arts. Major Minor also fosters inter-generational communication and gives constituents the skills necessary to pursue their creative and professional passions. CIES would love to send out a huge thank you to all those artist who so graciously donated their time and creativity and we are already looking forward to the next show. For more photos of the event CLICK HERE.