The past does not equal the future,” one immigrant says.

December 2009
Your Workplace


Local professional networks are invaluable to job seekers, but most skilled immigrants do not have access to such networks, or understand how to navigate their job search in Canada. Skilled immigrants have high levels of education, but may not know the Canadian context of their profession and workplace culture, or understand how to translate and sell their skill sets.

Mentoring can make a difference
The winners of the 2009 Mentoring Partnership Awards help to illustrate the impact that mentoring skilled immigrants can have. This year’s winners are mentors Michael Schafler, John Phelan and Carrie Samuels, and mentees Karean Brown and Kenneth Chiguvare.

Nominated by his mentee, Michael Schafler, a partner at Fraser Milner Casgrain’s (FMC) Toronto office, won the Special Achievement Award for his active involvement with the program. His efforts have resulted not only in building his mentee’s local Canadian legal network, but also in FMC becoming a corporate partner of the program-the first law firm to come on board. Schafler is now leading discussions on expanding mentoring to FMC’s five offices outside Toronto.

John Phelan, a director of HR services at the Regional Municipality of Halton, won the Mentor of the Year Award, as nominated by a partner. Phelan understands the benefits of the mentoring relationships for both mentors and mentees, and has become an ambassador for the program. He is the driving force behind the partnership between the Regional Municipality of Halton Region and The Mentoring Partnership, a program of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

The program has been operating for more than five years in the Greater Toronto Area and has more than 5,000 mentoring relationships between skilled immigrants and established Canadian professionals.

More than 50 corporate partners have signed on to the program. Phelan’s work in promoting mentoring goes beyond his workplace. He promotes The Mentoring Partnership in the media and organizes an annual mentoring recognition event.
Carrie Samuels received the Mentor of the Year Award for her outstanding work with internationally trained engineers. Samuels taught project management at Humber College in Toronto and has mentored many engineers who are new to Canada. She identifies the unique features of the Canadian workplace and focuses on the nuances of networking to better position her mentees for employment opportunities in Canada.

The Mentee of the Year Award was given to two successful and determined skilled immigrants: Karen Brown and Kenneth Chiguvare.

Brown came to Canada from Jamaica with 10 years of international experience in financial services. She needed advice from her mentor on how to find the right job in Canada. With her mentor’s coaching, Brown conducted information interviews, secured a job- shadowing opportunity and volunteered to gain Canadian experience. Her positive attitude and determination landed her a job with TD Bank Financial Group.

Chiguvare is an experienced business analyst from Zimbabwe with a master’s degree from the United Kingdom. He also needed advice about how to navigate the Canadian job market. With his mentor’s guidance, he mastered the art of cold calls and landed a customer service position. But he has bigger dreams, so Chiguvare continues his job search each day. Chiguvare and his mentor, Alan Keith, still remain good friends. “Kenny believes the past does not equal the future… he has an unrelenting thirst for self improvement,” Keith remarks.


Reference: Your Workplace