The Mennonite New Life Centre’s mission is to facilitate newcomer settlement and integration through holistic services and community engagement, carried out within a gender justice and anti-oppression framework.
The Centre envisions a society in which all people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds participate fully in all aspects of Canadian life. We will model an approach that brings together community engagement and community services, working with newcomers to reduce insecurity and reach integration, strengthen voices and increase social equality.
The story of the Mennonites is marked by forced migration from central Europe to Russia, and later on to North and South America. Over the centuries, many Mennonites were brutally persecuted for their open opposition to violence and affirmation of the separation of church and state.
This experience has inspired a special concern for service and solidarity with refugees from around the world. Heavily involved in sponsoring Vietnamese refugees in the 1970s, Ontario Mennonites later began to look for opportunities to support a new wave of refugees coming from Latin America.
After an initial period of research and needs assessment with the Latin American community in Toronto, the Mennonite New Life Centre was founded in 1983.
Over the years, the founding vision of service and solidarity with refugees and displaced peoples has led the Mennonite New Life Centre to reach out to new refugee and immigrant communities, adapting and expanding our programs to respond to diverse needs and aspirations.
At each step of the way, the New Life Centre has worked to build a caring and inclusive community, where the ideas and contributions of newcomers are respected and valued. Together, newcomers and neighbours, we support each other, learn from each other, and take action together for a more just and compassionate society.
The Mennonite New Life Centre comes into being under the leadership of founding directors Adolfo and Betty Puricelli.
A Board of Directors is formed, with representation from supporting Mennonite churches.
In partnership with the St Clair O Connor housing project, MNLCT opens a reception centre to offer temporary shelter to refugees arriving in Toronto.
MNLCT launches our LINC Program, to support refugees and immigrants in learning the English fluency needed to be successful in Canada.
MNLCT moves to 1774 Queen St E, a building shared with two Toronto Mennonite churches. Around this time, the Centre begins to respond to a new refugee movement from the former Yugoslavia.
MNLCT extends settlement services in Mandarin to a growing Chinese immigrant community.
MNLCT conducts a visioning process, identifying community engagement, employment and mental health as strategic priorities. Work begins on the development of the Newcomer Skills at Work Project, which combines employment mentoring and civic engagement strategies to support newcomers in contributing their skills to the labour market and their voice to the political process.
MNLCT opens a new office at 2600 Birchmount Rd, bringing its language and settlement services to a growing number of immigrants in Scarborough.
MNLCT celebrates its 25th anniversary by launching our first two internships for internationally trained psychologists, strengthening our mental health supports for refugees and immigrants struggling with different kinds of stress and trauma.
MNLCT opens a new office at 2737 Keele St, deepening its relationship with the Latin American community.
MNLCT launches the Bridge Training Program for Internationally Trained Psychologists and Allied Mental Health Professionals.
MNLCT amended its bylaws to better reflect its identity as an inclusive organization, and adopted a community-based membership structure.
MNLCT become the settlement partner to Aurora House to provide transitional and mental health supports to those in need.
The Toronto New Life Wellness Place opened its doors in June.
MNLCT opened a Finch office. The office is home to two bridging programs – Bridge to Registration and Employment in Mental Health (BREM) and Bridge to Employment in Media and Communications (BEMC) – as well as settlement and mental health counselling services.
MNLCT held a number of community events
- the Integration Through Recreation Celebration,
a Volunteer and Donor Appreciation Concert and Luncheon
- a Community Picnic in High Park
- the Giving with Love Fundraiser
- the Holiday Crafts and Food Marketplace
The COVID-19 global pandemic washed over our lives, our plans, and our dreams. We made the decision to pivot to full virtual services.
We launched an #AskMNLCT weekly webinar series. Participants could ask their most pressing questions.
MNLCT served 4500 people this year. We launched two new bridging programs:
- Bridge to Employment in Services for Immigrant Populations (BESIP)
- Bridge for Immigrant Women Reskilling into IT Coding Professions (C-Women)
MNLCT will celebrate its 40th anniversary!
Our Mennonite Heritage
Drawing on the inspiration of our Mennonite heritage, the New Life Centre seeks to be a place of community and mutual support for newcomers of a wide range of cultural and religious backgrounds.
The Mennonite New Life Centre originates in a strong tradition of peace and service work by Mennonite churches. Mennonite history is marked by a long series of migrations and movements driven by religious persecution, as well as the desire to maintain a distinct way of life based on values of peace and non-violence.
Mennonites therefore have a strong concern for immigrants and refugees, particularly the most vulnerable. At MNLCT, we welcome refugees from all sides of world conflicts, striving to be a place of healing and reconciliation. Our services offer victims of violence an opportunity to express and grieve their losses, while seeking hope and purpose for the future. Advocacy work gives expression to our call to build a better world, where violence and injustice would cease, and a better Canada, where all newcomers might experience compassion and fairness.
Our goal is to serve, not to convert. Clients are encouraged and supported in giving expression to their own values, and their own dreams for the future.
At the New Life Centre, we show our compassion for newcomers in practical ways by answering questions, helping with immigration needs, teaching English. Together, we build community, a place for the voice and participation of all.
by Luis Alberto Mata
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