Neil Armstrong
ExtraNA Writer

TORONTO, Canada – In January, Patricia O’Connor, the coordinator of Field Programming for the The Internationally Educated Social Work Professionals (IESW) Bridging Programme at Ryerson University’s Chang School of Continuing Education, received the Toronto Star Immigrant Champion Award.

She was commended for ‘making notable strides toward integrating immigrant social workers into the labour market.’

Presented by the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council (TRIEC) and RBC the annual Immigrant Success (IS) Awards, recognize innovative employers and outstanding individuals who have demonstrated leadership by bringing skilled immigrants into the Toronto Region labour market.

O’Connor, who was instrumental in creating the IESW programme, has vivid memories of the first term of the programme in 2005. “For the first time, we met people who were pretty discouraged. There was no programme and nobody had really heard of them as a group. They didn’t have a voice at all, there was nobody advocating for them. We spent a lot of time that first term just giving people a chance to tell their stories and vent, and get their frustrations out. They were pretty vocal,” says O’Connor.

“The most meaningful part of winning this award is that the nomination came from internationally educated professionals who completed the programme and are currently working in the field of social work,” says O’Connor.

O’Connor also coordinates a network of over 550 internationally educated social work professionals, and organizes educational workshops and presentations for employers to raise awareness about the ways in which immigrant professionals can make valuable contributions to their organisations.

The bridging programme is a partnership between Ryerson University’s School of Social Work, the Chang School of Continuing Education and the Access Alliance Multicultural Community Health Centre.

Elizabeth McIsaac, executive director of TRIEC, said, “This year’s IS Award winners clearly understand the benefits of bringing diverse talent into their workplaces, and why this is so important for the continued economic prosperity of our city region. They are the success stories of today and the trailblazers of tomorrow.”

Two organisations and three individuals were honoured for their accomplishments in promoting the career advancement of skilled immigrants.

Reference: Extra NA