Are you interested in learning more about the important system-changing work that Access Alliance is involved in? 

Browse through our Blog! Here we feature initiatives, stories, ideas, and perspectives from different people who work or engage with our organization, and who drive our mission, vision, and mandate forward.


The stories systems tell: Breaking down anti-Black barriers to build a better future

As we move on from Black History month, our programs and services will continue to seek out, highlight, and be informed by the diverse stories of our Black communities. To achieve equity in our systems we need to dismantle long-standing barriers and amplify voices silenced by our systems. Read more here.

A woman stands in front of a colourful mural with a painting of a young man and a cityscape.

Lifting up young leaders:
The Nahom Berhane Scholarship for Leadership and Inclusion

Now in its 9th year, the Nahom Berhane Scholarship for Leadership and Inclusion has assisted dozens of driven young community leaders from underserved communities as they navigate their post-secondary education.

In order to continue supporting these amazing students, we need your help. Read the full article.


Fun, Fitness & Friendship: How Newcomer Seniors are Thriving at Access Alliance

Our Seniors’ Program is all about helping participants build and maintain strong bodies, minds, and relationships. We do this through programming that supports the specific needs of the newcomer seniors in our community, offering fitness and recreational classes as well as fun events and relevant info sessions. Read the full article

Youth Summer Programs: Building Skills for a Sustainable World

It’s been a skill-building summer of sustainability for Access Alliance’s youth! Participants in our summer newcomer youth programs have benefitted from our team’s commitment to promoting sustainability and supporting a diverse and inclusive environment. In order to build skills in newcomer youth, our team ran various programs geared towards knowledge-building, community engagement and leadership skills. These programs prepare participants to take the lead in fostering positive change in their own lives and their communities, building a more sustainable future for all. Read the full article.

2SLGBTQ+ Newcomer Pride: Celebrating Identity, Resilience, and Inclusive Communities

June is Pride Month. Pride is a celebration of 2SLGBTQ+ (2spirit, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer) people and community. Pride is about 2SLGBTQ+ people being proud and unapologetic about who we are. It’s about fighting stigma, shame, discrimination and abuse. Pride is about saying there is nothing wrong with being 2SLGBTQ+, there is nothing that needs to be changed or fixed. Pride is about recognizing that we are part of a family and community of people who are beautiful and resilient. Pride is about recognizing that there are many different ways people can exist, there are many different ways that we can love ourselves and each other. Read the full article.

Earth Day around the World: Sharing, Learning and Building Environmental Consciousness with Newcomers

Species extinction, topsoil loss, deforestation, ocean acidification, plastic rain, global warming. It is no exaggeration to say our planet is in crisis, a human created crisis. Extreme weather events affect all life across the planet. And the exploitation of our planet doesn’t stop at natural resources, but extends to the exploitation of people as well. The extent of injustice can be overwhelming, but we also have much to appreciate and inspire us. In this context, Earth Day is an opportunity to bring people together for a celebration of life on Earth, but also a call to action. Read the full article.

Delivering compassionate virtual care in an increasingly digital world

In early March of 2020, the announcement came that COVID-19 had become a global pandemic, and businesses and organizations everywhere shut their doors. Determined to prioritize its clients’ needs, Access Alliance took one week and then began incorporating remote healthcare, settlement and other services. However, as time went on, it became clear that this would not be a short-term solution. Access Alliance was prompted to reconsider its model of care delivery from top to bottom, as part of this ‘new reality’.  Read the full article.

Misclassification: The Underlying Danger within Gig Work

In an ideal world, a job should provide a stable source of income that allows us to live life comfortably. Unfortunately, this isn’t true for many people, especially when it comes to the marginalized urban newcomer populations Access Alliance serves. Facing barriers to the standard Canadian job market, many newcomers turn to gig work to make ends meet. And with the dramatic rise of gig work since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these workers put their health and safety on the line in order to provide for themselves and their loved ones. But what is gig work exactly? And what is its impact on our newcomer communities? Read the full article. 

colourful drawing with bright yellow streaks connecting between people

Re-Imagining Home: Improving Newcomer Mental Wellbeing through Art

For most of us, home is a comforting space to begin and end the day. However, this is not true for everyone. November is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This is an opportunity for us to learn about what domestic violence is, how it affects people, and what resources are available for survivors of domestic violence. Access Alliance provides some of these resources, including expressive arts programming to improve mental health. Read the full article. 

'Vote here' sign for Toronto municipal election polling station

The Long Road to Civic Engagement

Colourful fall leaves, shorter days, and the smell of the democratic process in the air … a few months after the provincial election, Ontario’s municipal elections were fast approaching. Aiming to spark interest in the democratic process among immigrant and newcomer clients, Access Alliance organized an Election Job Hiring workshop in partnership with Elections Toronto. After the elections, we got a chance to speak with our clients who worked the polls and to hear their reflections on the state of civic engagement in Toronto. Read the full article.

Undocumented Voices, Undocumented Stories of the Fight for #StatusForAll

“This one is so sad…” Greice, a volunteer with Access Alliance, has her eyes cast down, skimming over a personal story written out by hand in black ink on white paper. The author, an anonymous walk-in patient of Access Alliance, tells their account of surviving here in Canada with precarious immigration status. They are on a visitor visa, one that is close to expiring. Read the full article.

Building Healthy Individuals, Healthy Communities through Intergenerational Programming

Excited chatter and laughter echoes across the large community space, drowning out the rhythmic clicking of needles. The scene could not get more wholesome: youth and seniors, knitting together, and greatly enjoying themselves while sharing stories and life experiences. Knitting is a skill and hobby that many associate with older generations; however, here were seniors and youth, teaching and learning from each other.Read the full article. 

“By teaching, we learn”

As the Latin proverb Docendo discimus goes, “By teaching, we learn”, Access Alliance embraces student placements with the understanding that we gain as much from them as they do from us.

The organization provides students with placements in a diverse range of disciplines, allowing them to enhance their field of study and apply the concepts and theories from their academic programs.

We interviewed five placement students and their supervisors, who take on the role of preceptor, across five unique programs at Access Alliance.Read the full article. 

Celebrating Cycling: Bike Month 2022

Mobility is a privilege people tend to overlook. Biking as a mode of transportation offers advantages not only physically, but also financially, socially, and environmentally. With rising gas prices, steep transit fares and climate change – cycling is an outlet we must take advantage of! Scarborough Cycles, a program run by Access Alliance in partnership with the City of Toronto, creates space for cyclists of all levels to ride, repair, and connect. It embraces cycling as a movement rather than just a recreational activity. Read the full article. 

Once Upon a Newcomer to Canada: The “Before” and the “After”

Mariam Spanos, a Settlement Worker at Access Alliance Multicultural Health & Community Services, recalls her migration story. Nearly two decades later, the memories are still vivid. After the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003, the country had collapsed. Mariam’s family faced an unimaginable decision – her parents knew they had to seek a safe and stable future for their children, but the path ahead was full of unknowns. More importantly for Mariam, leaving Iraq would mean leaving her childhood behind. Read the full article.

nurse at desk in clinic

The “hotel clinic” in Toronto

After months of anxious waiting and an arduous journey from Afghanistan to Canada, it seemed the Motavakkel family could breathe a sigh of relief when they finally landed in Toronto and were placed in a hotel turned temporary reception centre. As the adrenaline level of the family fleeing a life-or-death situation gradually fell, some previously suppressed health issues started to emerge. Read the full article. 

flyer for workshop series posted on street pole

Building strong healthy communities through newcomer civic engagement

The Civic Engagement Workshops for Newcomers are organized by Access Alliance staff, volunteers, and students. This semester, I have had the opportunity to join this small team as a placement student. I have learned a great deal during my time at Access Alliance, including how newcomer-serving organizations can adapt to better serve their communities and address local needs; and the role that research, knowledge mobilization, and social action plays in this process.
Read the full article.

Screenshot of Zoom meeting with many participant faces

Empowering Internationally Trained Professionals to become ‘Change Agents’

In January 2022, the Community-Based Research and Evaluation Department of Access Alliance launched its exciting Community-Based Research (CBR) training series. This six-week foundational learning series targets internationally trained professionals (some of whom were researchers in their home countries), offering them the chance to learn or update their community-based research skills. Read the full article.

chalkboard with the writing "The Growth and Evolution of a CHC" with a red heart next to the text and pills off to the side

The Growth and Evolution of a CHC

Community health centres (CHCs), in the simplest terms, work to improve the lives of the people they serve. How they do it is not so simple. In this blog post, we will showcase how four driving forces promoted the evolution and strategic growth of Access Alliance, a community health organization that today is highly adaptable and responsive to change, while simultaneously driven to realize its vision. 
Read the full article.

How we are supporting our clients this holiday season

This holiday we’ve had ‘all hands on deck’ – with staff, volunteers, partners, and donors pitching in to help our clients and their communities. Together, we’ve addressed our clients’ most urgent needs (such as medical care, COVID-19 booster shots and warm clothing) and at the same time, brought joy, laughter and much needed connection through our special holiday events.

We made a digital scrapbook to show some of the ways we’ve been helping our clients through the holidays. Read the full article.

Graphic depicting financial literacy as a journey from financial instability to financial security.

November is Financial Empowerment Month

Financial Literacy Month has been celebrated for over a decade in Canada. This special awareness month, organized by the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) of the Government of Canada, seeks to strengthen the financial literacy of all Canadians. This appears to be a fairly progressive initiative, so why did Access Alliance, a newcomer-serving agency, decide to take it one step further and celebrate Financial Empowerment month instead? Read the full article.

Supporting students to create positive social change

Stephanie Thevarajah, Placement Student in Knowledge Mobilization & Social Action

While working with Access Alliance, I had the opportunity to learn new skills in knowledge mobilization as well as around the importance of translating research findings to wider audiences, encouraging meaningful discussion, and building awareness of health inequities faced by marginalized and newcomer populations.

Read the full article.

Addressing stigma-related barriers to care

Access Alliance – Published in International Federation of Community Health Centres (IFCHC) Newsletter (Aug 2021)

On Wednesday, August 4, Access Alliance announced the release of Tackling TB Stigma: A Cross-Sectoral Approach to Reducing Tuberculosis (TB) Stigma and Improving TB Care for Vulnerable Newcomer Populations in Canada. The report was the result of comprehensive, community-driven research that sought to examine TB-related stigma and highlight recommendations for effectively addressing stigma around diseases. Read the full article.

Community organizations collaborate to get residents vaccinated against COVID-19

Access Alliance – published in East Toronto Health Partners (ETHP) Newsletter (Aug 2021)

The impact of COVID-19 on some of Toronto’s most vulnerable communities has been well documented.

According to City of Toronto data, as of May 31, 2021, 73 per cent of reported COVID-19 cases identified with a racialized group and live in communities with higher percentages of racialized and newcomer communities, including Taylor-Massey, Oakridge, and Victoria Village.

Read the full article.