Our History

30 Stories

On our 30th anniversary, we collected 30 stories from community members, volunteers, staff and Board members, founders, partners, and others who have generously contributed their time, energy and talents over the years to make Access Alliance what it is today. Collectively these stories provide a snapshot of the organization’s mandate, history and growth.

Link to founders from the Korean community

Founders from the Korean community

The founding communities of Access Alliance fought for linguistically and culturally appropriate primary health care and related social services. Sung Hak Choi and Andrew Choi recount their experiences in founding Access Alliance and pioneering its work.

Link to Comforts from a rooftop garden

Comforts from a rooftop garden

Community gardeners harvest herbs that are healthy, calming and delicious for the staff and community tea cart at Access Alliance.

Link to Building skills and giving back as a volunteer

Building skills and giving back as a volunteer

From fitness instructor to Board Treasurer, Keisa Campbell talks about her volunteer experiences at Access Alliance.

Link to Seniors enjoy expanded services

Seniors enjoy expanded services

When Neighbourhood Centre integrated with Access Alliance in 2017, local seniors were able to enjoy expanded services, programs and volunteer opportunities.

Link to Leadership and transformation

Leadership and transformation

Axelle Janczur, the Executive Director of Access Alliance, has seen the organization through years of transformation and growth. She talks about her experiences and what’s ahead for the organization.

Link to exploring stories through embroidery art

Exploring stories through embroidery art

Arabic-speaking women share memories and experiences through embroidery art in Access Alliance’s expressive arts program.

Link to Health With Dignity

Health With Dignity

The Non Insured Walk-In Clinic provides Health With Dignity to some of the most vulnerable residents of the City of Toronto. It is one of the few clinics in the city dedicated to serving the medically uninsured … 

Link to Mie Tha La and the road to settlement

Mie Tha La and the road to settlement

Mie Tha La was one of 140,000 Karen refugees who fled Myanmar. He came to Canada in 2007 after having spent 13 years in a refugee camp and within 48 hours, was put in touch with Access Alliance.

Link to Changing lives with language services

Changing lives with language services

Antonina Oliinyk joined Access Alliance’s interpretation roster in 1998. She was trained in medical interpretation and has been helping people communicate and break down language barriers ever since.

Link to Among Friends

Among Friends

There was little in the city of Toronto for LGTBQ newcomers when the first LGTBQ+ initiative at Access Alliance began in 2006. Those beginnings started with the Among Friends program.

Link to Opportunities to grow and learn through work

Opportunities to grow and learn 

Anabela Azevedo has worked at Access Alliance since 1991. Her work over the years has changed in ways she couldn’t imagine.

Link to Scarborough Cycles

Connecting and learning through community bike hubs

Access Alliance’s community bike hubs welcome residents who want to learn about cycling safety and maintenance and connect with other cyclists.

Link to eXposed slide show


The eXposed project was a community-based research project conducted in 2008 that combines the photographs and narratives of 14 photo researchers who live in Toronto’s Black Creek community.

Link to Making a difference through partnership

Making a difference through partnership

COSTI and Access Alliance have a history of collaboration and partnership that helps them mobilize in response to the needs of recent immigrants and refugees to Toronto.

Deepening the research pool

Deepening the research pool

As a health researcher, Momtaz Begum has the education, credentials, commitment and passion to contribute to her field and make a difference. But can she and other internationally trained researchers find work in Canada?

Link to Board talk: A virtual interview

Board talk: A virtual interview

Over the years, Access Alliance has benefited from the passion, expertise, and hard work contributed by the many members who have served terms on its Board of Directors. Present and past Chairs of the Board talk about their experiences.

Link to Peer Outreach Workers

Peer Outreach Workers

In 2002, Access Alliance recruited and trained women as Peer Outreach Workers. The program continues to build the capacity of women working in the heart of their communities.

Opening doors in the east and west

In 2011, Access Alliance expanded its services into the inner suburbs with the opening of AccessPoint on Danforth and AccessPoint on Jane. The expansion has made community programs, support and health services available to newcomer, immigrant and refugee communities in the east and west end of Toronto.

Link to Nahom Berhane: The legacy of a passionate community leader

The legacy of Nahom Berhane

Nahom Berhane was a passionate leader with genuine commitment to fairness, equity, and community empowerment. His life and contributions are remembered here.

Link to Bok Choy, Black Beans, Bananas: A Newcomer's Guide to Healthy Eating

Bok Choy, Black Beans, Bananas: A Newcomer’s Guide to Healthy Eating

This practical guide was written with input from newcomer women who shared their knowledge and experiences with food and nutrition.

Link to Volunteering to make a difference

Volunteering to make a difference

Maria Renee Monteiro has a passion for helping others. She shares her story of volunteering with Access Alliance’s east end programs.

Link to Stepping Up

Stepping Up

The Stepping Up Promising Practices Tool Kit was developed to help organizations implement expressive arts groups that focus on violence prevention and safety promotion for trans and LGBQ newcomer women.

Link to Youth talk about health and wellbeing

Youth talk about health and wellbeing

Youth at Access Alliance made a video in 2013 to celebrate how community health and wellbeing are promoted in Access Alliance’s programs.

Link to Inspiring Change: Access Alliance celebrates a decade of transformative research

Celebrating a decade of community-based research

Community-based research is a collaborative research model that brings the needs, perspectives and insights of community members to the research. In 2016, Access Alliance’s research department celebrated 10 years of this transformative research.

Link to LGBTQ+ Newcomer Cooking Program

LGTBQ+ Newcomer Cooking Program

Ken Olsen began volunteering in the LGBTQ+ Newcomer Program at Access Alliance in 2013. At the time, there were only six participants in the basement of Access Point on Danforth.

Link to Postcards from the past

Postcards from the past

Two former Access Alliance staff members who worked with the Spanish-speaking community in the 1990s send in memories.

Link to Bad Jobs Are Making Us Sick

Bad Jobs Are Making Us Sick

Knowledge mobilization takes many forms. In 2013, Access Alliance made two evidence-based films about precarious work and its impact on health and quality of life.

Link to Lessons from a green rooftop

Lessons from a green rooftop

East end residents build skills around food and gardening at the rooftop garden at AccessPoint on the Danforth.

Link to Access Alliance Then and Now

Access Alliance Then and Now

For 30 years, Access Alliance Multicultural Health and Community Services has been providing services and addressing system inequities to improve health outcomes for the most vulnerable immigrants, refugees, and their communities.

Link to Access Alliance Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Access Alliance Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Access Alliance will commemorate this milestone with a year of activities, celebrating the history of the organization and its contribution to the city of Toronto.

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