WE LIP Success Story | February 2023

Each year, the Windsor Essex Local Immigration Partnership hosts its Annual Community Forum. This year over 70 people attended the event themed ‘WE Believe in Youth’ at École élémentaire Louise-Charron on February 16, 2023.

Charlotte LeFrank, Diversity Outreach Coordinator of Windsor-Essex Children’s Aid Society and WE LIP Chair, welcomed the attendees and Kelsey Santarossa, Manager of Community Development Projects at Workforce WindsorEssex provided opening remarks in French.

Liz Weaver, Co-CEO and Director, Learning Centre from Tamarack Institute delivered a keynote message focused on the topic of “Communities Building Youth Futures.” Council members were given the opportunity to explore ideas on how to build a more welcoming work environment for diverse youth employee needs.

The presentation also touched on strategies for meaningful youth engagement and highlights from the Guide for Navigating the Future or work for Youth and Employers.

Program updates were shared by Nandini Tirumala, Program Director from the South Asian Centre of Windsor and by Alicia Fleming, VP Community Impact from ProsperUs, United Way. Jillian Toman, Youth Programs and Services Manager from the New Canadians’ Centre of Excellence Inc. also provided an update on the Virtual Enhanced Education Platform, Service Delivery Improvement Project.

Aman Ghawanmeh, Journalist from Canada Broadcasting Company announced their Newcomer Stories project and Gisèle Dionne, Executive Director, Association des communautés francophones de l’Ontario Windsor-Essex-Chatham-Kent (ACFO WECK) announced their new platform of Volunteers called Cercle Bénévole / Volunteer Circle.

Throughout the event, the WindsorEssex Community Foundation had a booth with information promoting the Random Acts of Kindness day on February 17th.

In closing, students Chidera Ikewibe and Florine Ndimubandi from the University of Windsor performed a poem in English, and sang Mon Beau Drapeau in French respectively.

Michelle Suchiu, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, Windsor Essex Local Immigration Partnership and Workforce WindsorEssex reminded council members that the forum set the stage for the Global Youth Summit taking place in the next fiscal year.  A survey was circulated to attendees after the forum to gather feedback and help inform next steps for the work. Presentations from the forum can be viewed on the WE LIP Council Webpage.

Attendees were also given a booklet of success stories from the 2022-2023 fiscal year with a message from the WE LIP Chair:

Greetings dear WE LIP colleagues, partners and friends,

Each February at our Annual Forum we gather to reflect on the year that was.  As the pandemic began to release its grip, we saw the gradual re-opening of programs and services, along with more opportunities to gather together in person. 

The Migrant Workers Health Information Fair returned after a two-year hiatus, and the Public Safety Day held in September drew a phenomenal attendance.  The SPICE Professional Learning Circle brought a renewal and deepening of relationships, and the MaNouvelleCommunauté/ MyNewCommunity mapping project was launched, celebrating a tremendous collaboration between Francophone partners, the WE LIP and the City of Windsor. 

At our Winter Council Meeting we shared some collective laughter, and a few tears, as we bid farewell to WE LIP Project Manager Mary Ellen Bernard.  After an incredible career in public service, we hope that she retires content in knowing that the work of the WE LIP lives on in the hands of the vibrant and committed collective that she helped to build.

In the spirit of our new “hybrid” working culture, numerous successful events also took place online, including a Virtual Panel Discussion to observe Language Access Day.  A distinguished panel and passionate group of attendees engaged in meaningful dialogue about the importance of language in the delivery of services.  And speaking of language, the WeSpeak Initiative continued to be a driving force in expanding equitable access to language interpretation to new partners, sectors and communities across Ontario. 

These are just a few of many high notes in a year filled with challenges, triumphs, collaborations and innovations.  What a year it was indeed! 

Of course, none of this would have been possible without the support of Immigration Refugees Citizenship Canada (IRCC), the talented WE LIP Coordination Team who routinely go above and beyond, and the dedication and contributions of each and every one of you. 

Thank you for your commitment to creating a more welcoming and inclusive community for all.  You have proven once again that we are stronger together, and that together we can accomplish anything.

Download a PDF copy of this Success Story here: