The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (Constitution Act, 1982, “Charter”) – A Reflection on its 35th Anniversary

As we go about our daily lives we pay scant attention to the laws of this land and the guaranteed rights and freedoms we enjoy under the Charter.  We forget the protection it offers us so we can live our lives with dignity. Critics are quick to point out that the Charter is there in name and not really available to the average person.  Others say it is abused by criminal defendants who use the…

Here is How Our Interpreter Helped Out 10 Syrian Families for Free

Ten Syrian refugee families celebrated Easter at a gathering held at the Tzu Chi Foundation and guess who interpreted for them; our very own interpreter Maisaa Sahloul. Hold on, the best part is yet to come, she did it all for free. She spoke about what motivated her to do this. “Language barrier is a huge challenge for Syrian refugees and I want to help my countrymen, which is why I volunteered to interpret for…

A Day in the Life of an Interpreter Services Coordinator

On a cold foggy evening, Zewdi Gselassie, our Interpreter Services Coordinator was about to leave when phones started ringing off the hook; not unusual for MCIS where our coordinators attend calls after-hours too. “Hello, I am calling from Toronto Police Services. We need an interpreter for an emergency situation now,” a desperate voice on the other end said. “I realized that they needed an interpreter for an elderly gentleman Abai (name changed) who did not…

Asylum Seekers Flood Canada: Read Why

On March 8, firefighters in Emerson, Manitoba were taken by surprise, as they reached a shed to find 17 asylum seekers including a baby taking shelter from a major storm that blew through the area. This isn’t the first time that refugees in such high numbers have crossed the border town. According to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), 410 refugee claimants were intercepted near the Emerson port of entry while crossing into Canada between…

MCIS’ Language Independent Translator Training Program – 5 Years in the Making

On Tuesday, March 21, MCIS launched its Language Independent Translator Training Program. It was the culmination of all the hard work of the team led by Gabriela Rodas in strong collaboration with Victoria Radvan over the past year. It is hard to even try to describe the amount of work that went into developing this comprehensive training curriculum consisting of 40 modules that cover all aspects of providing translation services, from the conceptual and theoretical…

Our daughters – deep thoughts on IWD, 2017

I am the mom of a thoughtful young woman and am still striving to get it right. Where do I fall short? Well I want everything for my child so she can be an all-star. Nothing wrong with that except it is my idea of what an all-star should be. It started when she was young – this obsessive need to make her everything she could be. She went along, into her teens, and then…

Homelessness and its Perils

As of February 28, 2017, Toronto reported a 95% occupancy rate in shelters opened for the homeless. “I don’t have a choice. I have to do this,” the blue-eyed girl on the pavement told me holding out her arms for money. Here is a prelude-five minutes earlier I asked her what she was doing in the freezing cold. If our readers recall, it was a day when temperatures dipped to as low as -11 degree…

Newcomers with Disabilities – A Fresh Perspective

I tried not to stare but the scene was captivating. A youngish Persian brother and sister were having a very animated discussion on the bus I was on. Of course, I had no idea if they really were Persian or even siblings, but their features were very similar. Their wheelchairs were electric, but obviously older models and very well-worn. I started to turn away, embarrassed by my fascination with this exchange that obviously was none…

Even as Canada welcomes newcomers including refugees, many struggle to find jobs

Even as Canada continues to welcome newcomers including refugees, a staggering number is still finding it tough to land a job. A Statistics Canada report updated earlier this year paints a rather grim picture and says that immigrants who landed 5 or a few years earlier reported an unemployment rate of 10.2% at all education levels. Immigrants with no degree, certificate or diploma reported an unemployment rate of 14.8% and high school graduates reported an unemployment rate…

How a woman sold me fresh vegetables speaking broken English – A true story

If you skipped the class or if you weren’t curious about marketing, here are some fundamentals; always get them to buy what you are selling. At least, that is what the elderly Chinese woman at a grocery store in my neighborhood taught me while I was buying vegetables one fine evening. “You want tomatoes? $2 outside,” she pointed to the boxes lying outside her shop. As I returned with a bag, she added, “Other stores…