The York Guardian
Jun 29, 2009

York resident” target=”_blank”>Mario J. Calla was recognized recently for his role in promoting diversity and creating welcoming communities as executive director of COSTI Immigration Services.

“I could never have imagined back in 1958, having arrived in Canada as a child, that I would be presented with such an honour,” Calla said, recounting how difficult it was to leave friends, family and all that was familiar behind when he came to the country from Italy.

He says he was especially anxious about making new friends, learning a new language and going to a new school.

“I was a fortunate child, I had several mentors who took an interest in me,” Calla continued. “They encouraged me to seek higher education and to become active in my community. Having been encouraged as a child to excel and to now be recognized as a champion of newcomers as well as a leader in promoting Ontario’s diversity, is both a rewarding and humbling experience. I’ve come full circle.”

Calla was presented with the 2009 Ontario Newcomer Champion Award on June 23 by Michael Chan, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, in honour of National Multiculturalism Day on June 27.

Calla advocates on behalf of immigrants and refugees in his role at COSTI. Since he started as executive director in 1985, COSTI has become a lead agency in the settlement sector, helping newcomers in areas ranging from housing to language to mental health by providing services in more than 60 different languages from 19 locations across the city.

In addition to his work at COSTI, Calla also served as a board member and vice president for the Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants, is former president and a current member of the board of Social Planning Toronto and is also a member of the board of the Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council.

Calla also speaks at local schools to help educate youth about the ongoing struggle faced by newcomers trying to settle into a new country and society.

Reference: York Guardian