CCIS to Deliver New Employment Support Program to Newcomers with Disabilities


From left to right: Kevin McNichol, Prospect Human Services CEO; James Towend, a previous beneficiary of similar programs; Patrick Caron of Executive Mat Service; Sarah Taylor, Autism Alberta Program Manager; Minister Jason Luan, Alberta's Minister of Community and Social Services; Ricardo Morales, Director of Community Development and Integration Services at CCIS; Sarah Webb of the Alberta Mindfulness Association and  Josephine Naicker, Vice-Chair of the CCIS Board of Directors.
From left to right: Kevin McNichol, Prospect Human Services CEO; James Towend, a previous beneficiary of similar programs; Patrick Caron of Executive Mat Service; Sarah Taylor, Autism Alberta Program Manager; Minister Jason Luan, Alberta's Minister of Community and Social Services; Ricardo Morales, Director of Community Development and Integration Services at CCIS; Sarah Webb of the Alberta Mindfulness Association and Josephine Naicker, Vice-Chair of the CCIS Board of Directors.

The Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) has received funding from the Ministry of Community and Social Services to deliver a new and innovative Mindfulness-Based Employment Support program to newcomers with disabilities.


The funding is in addition to a $12 million investment by Alberta’s government to enable more individuals with disabilities enter the workforce through supports that lead them to meaningful employment opportunities.

Minister Jason Luan, Alberta's Minister of Community and Social Services

While making the announcement at CCIS’ Northwest Calgary location yesterday, Alberta’s Minister of Community and Social Services, Minister Jason Luan said, “I believe everyone, regardless of the barriers they face, should have the opportunity to build their skills and find meaningful work in their communities.”


“This investment will help more people with disabilities find good jobs and will further the important work of creating more inclusive and diverse workplaces in Alberta.”

Ricardo Morales, Director of Community Development and Integration Services at CCIS

Representing our CEO, Fariborz Birjandian, at the announcement, Ricardo Morales who heads CCIS’ Community Development and Integration Services division said, “For 40 years, CCIS has worked diligently in implementing diverse client-centered approaches to reducing barriers and creating opportunities for newcomers to settle and integrate within our community. Undoubtedly, support for a program like this from the Ministry of Community and Social Services is going to see us again take a leading role in the community in providing supports for vulnerable populations.”


“Newcomers face multiple complex barriers on their pathways to employment and are at a critical disadvantage when competing in the job market. These issues are compounded for newcomers with physical or mental—what I call—“distinguishabilities”. And it’s time that we as a sector and a community paid critical attention to that part of our population,” Morales added.

CCIS staff strike a pose with Minister Luan.
CCIS staff strike a pose with Minister Luan.

Our incoming CEO, Gordana Radan, who currently oversees CCIS’ Business, Employment and Training Services division which will be delivering the new Mindfulness-Based Employment Support program said, “This new employment support project addresses a gap in services by providing tailored training and support to newcomers who are facing mental and physical disabilities.”


“The program is truly innovative in its holistic approach to employment to help participants build their resilience and prepare for workplace success. CCIS is grateful to Community and Social Services for supporting us in our delivery of this unique program.”


Sarah Webb of the Alberta Mindfulness Association (left) with Bamidele Salako, CCIS' Marketing and Communications Manager

CCIS will provide the Mindfulness-Based Employment Support program in collaboration with the Alberta Mindfulness Association (AMA) for 50 newcomers with physical and/or mental disabilities.

“Alberta Mindfulness Association is really excited about this collaboration with CCIS and we’re bringing the skills of mindfulness to many more people in the community teaching them the ability to stay present, learn the skills of self-regulation and being able to share all that we’ve taught among many groups over the last ten years,” said mindfulness expert, Sarah Webb who represented the Alberta Mindfulness Association at the announcement.

CCIS staff with Prospect CEO, Kevin McNichol
CCIS staff with Prospect CEO, Kevin McNichol

The Mindfulness-Based Employment Support project takes a unique and holistic approach in serving its newcomer participants as it will recognize the key role that mental and emotional wellbeing play in job search and employment success and provide the participants with Mindfulness­-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) training to foster calm, concentration, and intention in their job search, and on the job.


In addition to teaching mindfulness techniques, the project will provide participants with skills enhancement in the areas of job search strategies, socio-emotional skills for the Canadian workplace, and psychological health and safety.

Patrick Caron of Executive Mat Service which has hired and supports the recruitment of differently-abled persons.
Patrick Caron of Executive Mat Service which has hired and supports the recruitment of differently-abled persons.

A key element of the Mindfulness-Based Employment Support project will be the involvement of CCIS’ employer partners in the project.


CCIS will be engaging our employer partners to identify suitable industries and employment opportunities for newcomers with a diverse range of physical and mental disabilities and connect project participants directly with employment opportunities.

James Towend, a previous beneficiary of similar programs.

Sarah Taylor, Autism Alberta Program Manager
Sarah Taylor, Autism Alberta Program Manager











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