Inter-Cultural Neighbourhood Social Services (ICNSS) was a multi-service agency that delivered capacity building programs, settlement and integration services and inter-cultural activities, while promoting community partnerships to build strong and dynamic communities in Mississauga, Brampton and Caledon. ICNSS operated between 1986 and June 1, 2009, when it suspended operations.
ICNSS was one of only two neighbourhood drop-in centres in Central Mississauga. At the time ICNSS suspended operations in June of 2009, the agency was serving approximately 75,000 clients annually. Most clients were either immigrants and refugees or from visible and racial minorities. A fully incorporated and registered charity, ICNSS received financial support from the Government of Canada, the Government of Ontario, the Regional Municipality of Peel, the United Way of Peel Region, the Trillium Foundation and private donors.
ICNSS was a community-based agency with individual memberships, a volunteer board of directors, staff and a large volunteer base. ICNSS staff served clients in many languages, including Arabic, Albanian, Cantonese, Caribbean dialects, Chinese, Croatian, Dari, Dutch, English, Farsi, Filipino, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Macedonian, Mandarin, Punjabi, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, and Urdu.
Programs offered by ICNSS during its lifetime included: The Peel/Halton Host Program; Enhanced Language Training; sector-specific language training for internationally trained professionals; Step-Up Employment Preparation; Job Search Workshops; Computer training for job-related needs; Multi-Cultural Settlement and Education Partnership (MSEP); neighbourhood programs to serve young families and seniors; Youth Peace Leaders; English conversation circles; and the Peel Community Mediation Service.
From 2005 to when the agency suspended operations in 2009, ICNSS also hosted a literary club for newcomers with similar interests, literary skills and poetic vision. The program brought together a vast pool of diverse experiences and knowledge from all parts of the world to share and publish their writings.
ICNSS was a trailblazer and a pace-setter. This organization, under sterling leadership grew from a small entity in a small office with one and a half full-time staff in Mississauga to an award- winning organization comprising 86 staff and four locations across Mississauga and Brampton. By 2009 ICNSS had evolved into an agency that was the envy of service providers, as subsequent events show. ICNSS was progressive, innovative, hard-working, creative highly respected and very much the place of solace and comfort for clients in various stages of culture shock.
So why did ICNSS have to close its doors? Simply put, when a funder decides that an agency has become a liability (based on perception, and a pack of lies from three dishonest and disgruntled staff) they can withdraw funding. Truth does not matter; quality of leadership is irrelevant; sterling track record is ignored; honesty, fairness, logic and reason are thrown out the door. And then comes the sword to swiftly decapitate. That’s how it is done when you hold the power to do whatever you want; no questions asked.