COR Stories: Marvelous’ Journey to Canada and COR

Marvelous was born and raised in Nigeria — a multinational state inhabited by more than 250 ethnic groups speaking 500 distinct languages, all identifying with a wide variety of cultures. Marvelous immigrated to Canada to pursue her tertiary education. She chose Canada as her destination because it offers a world-class education. Another reason why she chose Canada was because of the multiculturalism that exists in the country.

Part of settling down in a new country means going through the rigorous immigration process. Marvelous shared that the process for her study permit was fairly straight forward, but it demanded a lot of patience and also hoping for the best as many people who seek immigration to Canada get refused every year. According to information from Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), 30 percent of all study permit applications to Canada are rejected.

Asked about the biggest culture shock Marvelous had to face upon her arrival to Canada, Marvelous replied that she didn’t really face cultural shock. “Personally, I had done lots of research before coming to Canada and it helped me in my journey as a student and as a professional.” But even with doing research, nobody is ever prepared for the harsh winter weather! Marvelous said that she easily adapted to the weather once she got used to it. She also shared that she would have liked to know about the tax system in Canada. The tax system differs from country to country and Canada remains one of the countries where people pay higher taxes. On a positive note, healthcare, education and paid leaves for new parents are what attracts people to come to Canada.

Even though it was not always easy to adapt, Marvelous shared that if she has to do it all over again, she would still choose Canada. “It’s a welcoming place to be in for all cultural diversity, and a place to further intellectual abilities” mentioned Marvelous.

If there is one thing Marvelous misses about her country, it’s the food! It’s difficult to get everything she is used to eating in Nigeria.

Asked about how she joined COR, Marvelous shared that she started her journey with COR as a job coach with the 4to40 Initiative and really like helping the people we support in such an important part of their lives. “The fact that I am able to fulfill my dream of supporting people and getting paid for it makes it easy to work at COR” shared Marvelous. “I love that the pillars of gentle teaching are embedded at the core of COR, it positively changes the face of caring and supporting people” shared Marvelous about our philosophy of gentleness.

For future goals, Marvelous hopes to fully settle down in Regina, get a degree and advance her career at COR. Marvelous aspires to become a leader at COR.

Thank you Marvelous for sharing your journey to Canada, we are grateful to have you as part of our team and we pride ourselves on knowing that you love what you do and that your purpose connects with our purpose at COR.


Written by Joana Valamootoo

COR Stories: Paramisher Singh’s Journey to Canada and COR

Paramisher Singh was born and raised in Punjab, India. Punjab is a state in the northwest region of India and is one of the most prosperous states. The name Punjab is made of two words Punj (Five) + Aab (Water) i.e., land of five rivers. Param was 18 years old when he immigrated to Canada in 2018 to pursue his studies as a Continuing Care Assistant at the Parkland College in Yorkton.

Param shared that the journey to Canada was relatively easy and straight forward. After completing Grade 12 in India, Param said he didn’t know what he wanted to do and didn’t really have a sense of direction. A friend of his dad, who is an immigration agent, talked to his dad about Canada and soon the plan was becoming a reality and he was applying for his study permit. “I had excellent scores for Grade 12, good scores for English Language test and this contributed to making the process smooth and easy for me,” said Param.

Param also said that the decision to go to Canada was not his decision, but a family decision and he was excited to come to Canada. Soon, he was preparing to immigrate to Canada to start his new life. The training at Parkland College was fairly easy and he managed to get over 90% in all his courses. He was staying in an apartment with two other people who become his close friends. They were both older than Param, and it really helped because of the good advice he got from them. Param shared he was young, innocent and naïve and having these two friends in the beginning of his journey made a positive impact early on. He also made friends with three Canadian girls at Parkland College where he was studying, and they introduced him to the Canadian culture and helped him navigate the uncertainty of being a new immigrant. “I also had good teachers that were very accepting of differences” mentioned Param.

When Param came to Canada, he had long hair and wore a turban. He shared that he had never experienced overt racism, but he shared that people look at him differently when he wears his turban. “People also asked me questions, such as: Do I travel on camels in India? Are there cars in India? I don’t mind people asking me questions. I think the more you look different, the more people look at you and have questions” Param shared.

While studying at Parkland College, Param started his first part-time job at Walmart. “It was just a job; it was not related to my purpose or what I really wanted to do, but I did enjoy it,” said Param. After his studies were completed in Yorkton, Param applied for a job at COR and got an interview. “I remember meeting Rory McCorriston and after my interview, he told me there will be another interview and I asked him if it was possible to do the second interview on the same day as I live in Yorkton.” Rory made a couple of calls and then he told Param that he will be able to do the second interview on the same day. “A few days later, I got a call from Rory and he informed me that I got the job,” Param shared proudly. I got ready and moved to Regina to start work at COR.

The first day in Regina did not go as planned. Param had an accident and he had no car to drive, but fortunately he was able to borrow a car from a friend. Param shared it was a very stressful time of his life. Eventually, after a few months, he was able to buy another car.

Param shared that settling in Regina was tough as he didn’t know anyone and he didn’t instantly make friends. He was renting a room in a basement and it was not a nice place. He felt depressed and moved to an apartment to live with another roommate. “My roommate is Canadian and he became my friend and to this date, he is one of my best friends” shared Param. His roommate moved out when he got married. Now Param lives with his sister, who also works at COR.

After 4 years in Regina, Param mentioned that he now feels a part of the community. He has a good circle of both Canadian and Indian friends. “I do not think it would have been that easy if I was not working at COR, with the culture of gentleness, I feel like most people at COR accept me for who I am and appreciate me. I feel that sense of belonging in the workplace and I know that it is not like that in every workplace,” said Param.

Asked if he has any regrets coming to Canada and Param said that he made the right decision for the opportunity that Canada provides. At the same time, it was not only his decision, it was a family decision for him to come to Canada. “I do wonder how life would have been if I had decided to stay in India”, mentioned Param. At the same time, change is the only thing that is constant and Param shared that he would not have been the person he is now, if he didn’t make those decisions. He shared that he is self-reliant, self-independent, financially independent and age-wise he is mature for his age and mentally strong to overcome any life challenges. “I know my family will always be there for me, but I know I can depend on myself” shared Param. He confesses that it has both pros and cons; coming here at a young age and living by yourself can make one person grow distant with family. The solitude one person lives when they immigrate alone to Canada means also getting used to being lonely and understanding personal space and healthy boundaries. “At some point, I needed to change to adapt and I could not stick to who I was, I made changes to adapt” shared Param.

Like thousands of immigrants who come to Canada for a better future and opportunities, Param was brave enough to make a decision that would change his life and also change the lives of other people he interacts with in Canada and at COR. Param shares that working at COR is living his purpose and he feels fulfilled and happy to make a difference.

Thank you Param for being you, for making a difference every day at COR, we see you and we are grateful to have you as part of our COR family.


Written by Joana Valamootoo

COR Stories: Tayef Ahmed’s Journey to Canada and COR

Tayef Ahmed immigrated from Bangladesh to Canada to pursue his studies. He said that he was planning to study abroad, and while researching different places, Tayef felt that Canada was very welcoming and it was a good attraction for international students from across the globe. Thinking about the economy, programs of study, and future potential of him settling down, Canada was his top priority for his undergraduate studies. Tayef is now studying at the University of Regina. Besides being a full-time student, Tayef works as an Executive Director at a nonprofit in Regina. Tayef also has a very important role at COR; he is the Executive Services Coordinator — performing support to the COR Board of Directors.

Before joining COR, Tayef heard about COR from some of his friends who was working at COR. He shared that he honestly never thought of working at COR since his field of study is completely different than what COR does. However, a colleague of his at the U of R asked him if he was interested in a part time board secretarial position, but never mentioned the organization. She then passed Tayef’s information to another person who was connected with a COR board member who then passed his info to Amanda. Tayef was excited about the position and felt it was a great opportunity to work for COR’s Board of Directors. “Within my portfolio, I like the fact that I get to assist the senior management and the board in making important decisions for the organization,” said Tayef.

Tayef also appreciates the culture at COR and he feels a sense of belonging. The best thing he likes about COR is how welcoming it is. “To me the philosophy of gentle teaching is to see someone as a complete human. Gentle Teaching makes you understand how to think and treat others with dignity and respect” mentioned Tayef.

The immigration process was something that Tayef always looks back as a learning opportunity for his personal growth. “I was a 19-year-old student thinking about moving to a new country far from home. It was not an easy decision” mentioned Tayef.

He shared that it even got harder when he started doing everything on his own. He struggled with preparing all the required documents and filling out the application forms. Some of the things that he had to go through to prove himself as a genuine applicant were unreasonable in his opinion, but he still felt obliged to follow the instructions given by the Ministry of Immigration and Citizenship Canada. “It was stressful, but an experience that shaped my future so I regret nothing. From applying to university, to receiving the confirmation of visa, it took me about 7 months” said Tayef.

Tayef’s biggest culture shock was actually our city – Regina. He shared that he loves everything about this treaty 4 territory, but his expectation was it would be a bigger city. Also, pretty much everything was different than what he anticipated. “I was young and open to learn new things, so that open mindset helped me to integrate easily” mentioned Tayef.

The weather was another culture shock for Tayef; he had to be patient and persevere through the challenges the weather was throwing his way. It was not just the weather, rather Regina is not very accessible in winter. For example, waiting for the bus, grocery shopping when it is so cold has been difficult for Tayef.

Tayef also shared that since he was a full-time student, his focus was on his studies, and that’s where he experienced some struggles. Apart from that, managing finances— accommodating high expenses were some of his daily struggles. “When I look back on those days, I reminds myself what it took to be where I am now. There were days I walked and waited for a bus for over an hour in minus 40 degrees. There were days that I could not afford to buy a coffee; and there were years that I could not even think of being outside of Regina for vacations” shared Tayef.

Tayef connected with community and felt included because of his decision to volunteer in the community with different non-profits, and he shared this has helped him meet many people.

In 2019, Tayef also started a nonprofit on his own called “You Should Garden”. Tayef was motivated to start a community garden at the university as many university students are affected by food insecurity and “there are a lot of students in poverty and they are not getting enough food to eat,”Ahmed said. Tayef organizes Regina Seedy Saturday, a yearly event for gardeners to buy, sell, and exchange seeds. He actively serves on nonprofit boards, including: The Heritage Community Association and The Carillon Newspaper.

Tayef also shared that he would have loved to know the history of this country and all about Canada’s past treatment of Indigenous people before coming here. “My first 6 months here, I was pretty ignorant toward the Indigenous people because I knew nothing about them, nor about Canada’s past whatsoever. My learning journey started with a class— INDG 100— that I took during my second semester. I would like if every university made an Indigenous Studies class mandatory for all international students. It would be incredible.” said Tayef. In 2019, Tayef suggested the U of R add this in their Academic Plan.

Asked whether he would choose Canada all over again, Tayef admits that he is not sure. He shares that with the recent tuition increases and considering the overall economy, it would have been a hard decision to make. However, Canada would have likely remained his top priority.

Tayef does not miss anything in particular in his country of origin. He shares the Canada feels like home to him. “During my first and second year, I somewhat missed some of my friends and the fun I had with them. My family travelled/lived abroad so I did not get to spend much time with them; otherwise, I would have probably missed them. I know that some people miss the food and culture; but I just feel the multiculturalism in Canada fills all of my needs” shared Tayef.

Asked about where he finds himself in 5 years and he said that he wants to be in a place where he can make a positive impact on more people’s lives and by being in a position where he gets to serve people.

Thank you, Tayef, for choosing COR and for making a difference in our organization. Your achievement and contribution to the organization is something we are proud of.


Written by Joana Valamootoo

COR Stories: Caterine Varel’s Journey to Canada and COR

Caterine Varel immigrated from Guatemala with her family in 2006. Guatemala is a country in Central America, south of Mexico that borders the Pacific Ocean and has a short coastline on the Gulf of Honduras in the Caribbean Sea. It is also bordered by Belize, El Salvador and Honduras.

Caterine and her family were victims of organized crime that threatened the safety of her entire family. Caterine said that her mother and sister were brave enough to contact authorities which led to people being arrested, but then they realized the situation was much bigger; those arrested were part a larger crime network and no matter where they decided to go in Guatemala their lives would be threatened. For this reason, Caterine and her family came to Canada under the protected persons agreement between Canada and Guatemala. This program is also known as humanitarian and compassionate considerations helping people that are affected by violence and persecutions to seek protection in Canada.

Caterine shared that it was not an easy decision to leave her country. She said that her family loved their beautiful country, but unfortunately they had to leave the lives they had behind and seek international protection, which mean starting all over somewhere new. At that time, they had the choice to seek protection from both Australia and Canada  and applied for both. It was a long process, but Canada was first to give them approval. When they heard that they were going to come to Canada, they were relieved and looking forward to starting a new life!

Caterine said that they were ready for the challenges of immigrating to a new country, but it proved more difficult than they thought. “My biggest culture shock was that we arrived in Canada with zero English and it was difficult to communicate with people, to connect and integrate in the community. The first 2 years was the most difficult. I felt isolated at school because of the language barrier. I could not communicate with anyone and it was really tough to make friends, but I was determined and never lost hope that I will be accepted in this community,” said Caterine.

What helped Caterine to adapt was the love and companionship of her family. She could relate to them as they were all experiencing the same things in their lives. Caterine said that her focus was on her education and learning English in order to integrate and be included. She is also grateful for the help her family received from “good people in the community”. They assisted her family with resources and connected her to newcomer organizations to provide her with assistance at school. She also received help to find employment and started to participate in community activities and events that helped her connect with community. By attending more activities and events in the community, she started to learn English; little by little she was able to have a conversation in English.

“Without a doubt, the most difficult culture shock is to adapt to the harsh winter in Saskatchewan. I still find it hard in winter” shared Caterine. She also shares that she loves that Canada has 4 seasons, while in Guatemala there are only 2 seasons – summer and winter! The cold weather in Guatemala is mild and it’s mostly rainy. “One thing I wished I’d known before coming is how the economy works.” She added that in Guatemala they do not declare tax and this was confusing for her to understand the system at first.

Caterine also misses the food from Guatemala. She said that it’s not so easy to find everything they had in Guatemala here in a Saskatchewan grocery store. “There are different spices that are impossible to find here. I miss the traditional food from my country.”

Asked if she would choose Canada again if she had to make a decision today and she said that she would definitely choose Canada all over again; for Caterine, Canada is a land of opportunity and she feel blessed to have a second chance of living here in Saskatchewan with her family.

Caterine was referred by her sister who previously worked at COR.

“I chose COR when I learned about the way we provide care to people, especially the philosophy of Gentleness that is not just to provide care, but to actually care about the people we support. Working here just makes me feel good. It is not just about work, it is about care and giving care to others who need it the most. I feel that working at COR is rewarding in so many ways because I am able to give back to the community that gave my family and me a second chance at living a good life full of opportunities. Being able to give back makes me feel special” said Caterine.

Asked about her dreams and goals, Caterine said that she hopes to finish her education at Saskatchewan Polytechnic in 5 years and become a lab technician. She also wants to have a little family of her own. But, for now, she wants to concentrate on her career at COR and her education as she knows education is the key to opening doors in our society. She wants to continue working and serving the community.

Thank you, Caterine, for choosing COR. We are grateful to have you and your family here and we hope to build more memories with you.


Written by Joana Valamootoo

COR Stories: Amr Eisa’s Journey to Canada and to COR

Amr Eisa is a Canadian with origins from Sudan. As part of his studies at the University of Regina, Amr joined COR as a practicum student in 2022. Amr’s parents were born in Sudan and moved to Regina when Amr was only 8 years old.

After moving to the UK for a short time, Amr’s parents set their sights on Regina. “I’ve had the pleasure of being able to go back to Sudan and spend summers there periodically, and I feel the main reason they chose to immigrate was to give a better life for their children,” said Amr. He also mentioned that his parents moved to Canada to have a peaceful life. Being safe is an important foundational layer upon which we build our lives. In places where geopolitical unrest is prevalent, this sense of safety can be threatened. “Again, when we are in circumstances of insecurity, it is often tough to reach one’s potential. My parents found it important that their children had a sense of autonomy over their lives, thus, they set out to a place where this would be possible” shared Amr. He also believes with autonomy comes opportunity, allowing one to have much more avenues to achieve what they deem success. If you ask any immigrant why they choose to move to another country, the answers they will give most often are for a peaceful life and to have more opportunities to succeed. Canada remains one of the countries where people still have a good quality of life.

The journey of immigrating to Canada was quite lengthy and difficult for Amr’s parents. Depending on where you are born and type of agreement your country of origin and Canada have impacts the length and complexity of the immigration journey.  “Being the eldest child, I’ve been able to witness the immigration process of some of my relatives and I can attest to that sentiment! It seems like a lot of paperwork, forms and medical exams need to be done before immigrating to Canada,” said Amr. According to Amr, the welcoming nature of the Canadians made it worth it!

Amr shared that his experience with schooling in Canada has been great. “I went to a smaller school from Grade 2 to Grade 12, where I was able to connect with many other people of different backgrounds, but similar faith. I think this is also part of what made it easier to adapt to Canada – finding people who I could relate to” shared Amr. Many of the friends Amr made in elementary school are still some of his closest friends today.

Being a young boy when he moved here, the biggest shock was the differences in the hobbies of the other children of his age. Coming from the UK, he absolutely loved soccer, but Amr quickly learned that other kids were more enamoured with football, basketball, and hockey. It took a little while but he eventually grew to widen his horizons in terms of sports and hobbies. “I believe a big part of adapting is having the desire to immerse yourself within the community. By being present in the community and seeking out new experiences and relationships, you will eventually find where you can fit in” shared Amr.

Out of all the culture shock, the weather was definitely the hardest to adapt to for Amr. “I believe I am still adapting to it! The culture was super easy to adapt to – I find that people in Canada love to talk about their background, whether they are native to Canada or not. Learning about the many cultures present within Canada and also being given an opportunity to teach about my culture made the adaptation seamless” shared Amr.

Amr has one regret though, he wishes he would still have the British accent, but with the years of being here in Canada he has lost the British accent. Amr also attended the UofR and got his Bachelor in Kinesiology; he really enjoyed his time at the university and made many friends.

Amr is very grateful for the choice his parents made to immigrate to Canada. “The people here are wonderful, welcoming, and open-minded. The landscape is vast and scenic, and the opportunities are endless” mentioned Amr. “I feel very lucky to grow up in an environment in which many different cultures are present. I think being surrounded by a variety of people worked wonders to opening my mind and enriching my worldview”.

Amr also confessed that he has never experienced overt racism. However, he is aware of others’ experiences and it is definitely something that is still present in our society. “I believe it is important to remember that with connection and conversation, minds can be changed” shared Amr.

Amr initially did his fieldwork with Ben Morris at the COR Studio last summer which was a super enjoyable time according to him. Amr shared that Ben was a big part in showing him how to transfer skills and passions he already has in activities he was creating; while also giving Amr constructive criticism on how to improve. “Ben and the folks at the studio played a huge role in welcoming me to COR and finding out where I fit in. From helping out at the studio, assisting at Short Breaks, and facilitating a mindfulness class, it felt great to build genuine relationships with the folks that COR supports. After completing my fieldwork, I had no choice but to apply to be a support worker! I found a niche where I can help people be the best version of themselve while fostering connections “shared Amr.

Amr believes in the world we live in, organisations like COR are absolutely vital. “Being a part of an organisation that challenges the status quo and our current care model is amazing! It seems that the ‘human element’ is something that is overlooked in providing care/support”. “COR, with its philosophy of gentle teaching not only includes the human element, but emphasizes it. The genuine relationships built within COR are a testament to this! I am very lucky to be supporting with COR” shared Amr.

Amr sees himself continuing his journey through academics while continuing to build relationships with the CORfam!

Thank you, Amr, for choosing COR, we are happy and grateful that your parents choose Canada. Having you part of our organization only enhances it and we hope you continue to build both professional and personal relationship here at COR and with the CORfam.

Written by Joana Valamootoo

COR Named One of Canada’s Most Admired Award Winners (2023)

Announcing the 2023 Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures™, Canada’s Most Admired CEO™, and Canada’s Most Admired CPCO™ Winners

TORONTONov. 23, 2023 /CNW/ – Waterstone Human Capital, Canada’s leading cultural talent advisory firm, has announced the 2023 winners of the Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures™, Canada’s Most Admired CEO™, and Canada’s Most Admired Chief People and Culture Officer™ (CPCO) program. This national program recognizes best-in-class Canadian organizations, CEOs, and CPCOs for fostering high performance corporate cultures that help sustain a competitive advantage.

“The 2023 Canada’s Most Admired award recipients exemplify how culture drives performance, especially in the face of economic uncertainty and other recruitment and retention challenges,” says Marty Parker, President and CEO of Waterstone Human Capital and Chair of the Canada’s Most Admired™ program. “This year’s winners are leveraging culture to drive growth and success in today’s highly competitive talent market through the acquisition, retention, and optimization of high-performance leaders, teams, and corporate cultures.”

Award winners are recognized in five categories including Enterprise, Mid-Market, Growth, Emerging, and the Non-Profit and Broader Public Sector. New for 2023, Waterstone Human Capital launched the Canada’s Most Admired CPCO™ Awards, which shine a spotlight on CPCOs across Canada who drive the people and talent strategy of their organizations to achieve exceptional growth and performance. The Canada’s Most Admired CEO program has also grown to include a Social Purpose Innovator award, given out in partnership with MacKay CEO Forums.

“This year’s winning leaders and organizations actively craft culture in alignment with their purpose and values every day, and help drive culture as competitive advantage,” says Parker. “On behalf of Waterstone Human Capital and our partners, we look forward to celebrating this year’s winners and the impact culture is having on their success.”

Canada’s Most Admired™ CEOs of 2023

  • Enterprise: Curtis Stange, President and CEO, ATB Financial (Edmonton, AB)
  • Mid-Market: Ratana Stephens, Co-Founder and CEO (Retired), Nature’s Path Foods (Richmond, BC)
  • Growth: Chief Terry Paul, CEO, Membertou Development Corporation (Membertou, NS)
  • EmergingRebecca Kacaba, CEO and Co-Founder, DealMaker (Toronto, ON)
  • Non-Profit and Broader Public Sector: Jennifer Gillivan, President and CEO, IWK Foundation (Halifax, NS)
  • MacKay CEO Forums Social Purpose Innovator: Rob Miller, CEO and Co-Founder, Miller Titerle Law Corporation (Vancouver, BC)

Canada’s Most Admired™ CPCOs of 2023

  • Enterprise: Norm Sabapathy, Executive Vice President, People, Communications and Technology, Cadillac Fairview Corporation (Toronto, ON)
  • Mid-Market: Cheryl Kerrigan, Chief People Officer, BlueCat (Toronto, ON)
  • Growth: Christine Vigna, Chief People Officer, Dejero Labs Inc. (Waterloo, ON)
  • Emerging: Stephanie Silver, VP, People and Culture, North Strategic, Notch Video and MSL Group (Toronto, ON)
  • Non-Profit and Broader Public Sector: Shaun Simms, Chief People, Communications and Strategy Officer, Ottawa Community Housing (Ottawa, ON)

Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2023 – Enterprise

  • AstraZeneca Canada (Mississauga, ON)
  • Bruce Power (Tiverton, ON)
  • Canadian Western Bank Financial Group (Edmonton, AB)
  • Celestica (Toronto, ON)
  • High Liner Foods (Lunenburg, NS)
  • Loblaw Companies Limited (Brampton, ON)
  • Maple Leaf Foods (Mississauga, ON)
  • Purolator (Mississauga, ON)
  • SAP Canada (Toronto, ON)
  • STEMCELL Technologies (Vancouver, BC)

Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2023 – Mid-Market

  • Behaviour Interactive (Montreal, QC)
  • D2L Corporation (Kitchener, ON)
  • East Side Games (Vancouver, BC)
  • First West Credit Union (Langley, BC)
  • G Adventures (Toronto, ON)
  • Interac Corp (Toronto, ON)
  • Massilly North America Inc. (Brantford, ON)
  • Monos (North Vancouver, BC)
  • Odlum Brown Limited (Vancouver, BC)
  • Rümi Powered by ATCO (Calgary, AB)

Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2023 – Growth

  • Big Blue Bubble Inc. (London, ON)
  • Centra Windows (Langley, BC)
  • Det’on Cho Group of Companies (Yellowknife, NT)
  • East Coast Credit Union (Dartmouth, NS)
  • Hazelview Investments (Toronto, ON)
  • HomeStars (Toronto, ON)
  • Igloo Software (Kitchener, ON)
  • Inline Group Inc. (Edmonton, AB)
  • Loopio (Toronto, ON)
  • Xperigo (Markham, ON)

Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2023 – Emerging 

  • Gestisoft Inc. (Montreal, QC)
  • Henderson Partners LLP (Oakville, ON)
  • Iversoft Solutions Inc. (Orleans, ON)
  • Kognitive Tech Inc. (Toronto, ON)
  • Kudos® (Calgary, AB)
  • Numinus Wellness (Vancouver, BC)
  • Pagefreezer (Vancouver, BC)
  • PurposeMed (Calgary, AB)
  • SureCall (Calgary, AB)
  • The Poirier Group (Toronto, ON)

Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures of 2023 – Non-Profit and Broader Public Sector

  • BCAA (Burnaby, BC)
  • Canuck Place Children’s Hospice (Vancouver, BC)
  • Creative Options Regina (Regina, SK)
  • Egg Farmers of Canada (Ottawa, ON)
  • Kids Help Phone (Toronto, ON)
  • NorQuest College (Edmonton, AB)
  • Ottawa Community Housing (Ottawa, ON)
  • Scarborough Health Network (Scarborough, ON)
  • Standards Council of Canada (Ottawa, ON)
  • Vancouver Airport Authority (Richmond, BC)

Awards Celebration

The Canada’s Most Admired Corporate Cultures™, Canada’s Most Admired CEO™, and Canada’s Most Admired CPCO™ awards will be presented at an awards celebration in Toronto on Thursday, April 18, 2024.

For more information, visit:

COR Stories: Mouhamed Habib Niang’s Journey to Canada

Born and raised in Saint-Louis, Senegal, Mouhamed Habib Niang moved to Canada in January 2019 to attend college. Senegal, officially the Republic of Senegal, is a country in West Africa, on the Atlantic Ocean coastline. Senegal is well known for its official language which is French. Senegal is also known as a multilingual country with 36 languages spoken.

Mouhamed like many international students, came to Canada to obtain a world-renowned diploma and to gain international exposure. Mouhamed also added that international students in Canada enjoy the same rights and freedoms that protect all Canadians which are: respect for human rights, equality, diversity, and a stable and peaceful society. It was because of these attributes that made Mouhamed choose Canada.

When asked about the immigration process, Mouhamed stated that it was very straightforward. “I only followed the steps given by immigration so that I can process my case as quickly as possible without slowing down. The procedure involves obtaining an accepted letter from a Canadian university, applying for a visa using the letter provided by the university, and undergoing a medical test. “It only took 3 months before I obtained my visa to come to Canada,” added Mohammed.

Mouhamed remembers his first day as if it was yesterday, and he added that without a doubt, the cold weather was his first cultural shock.  “My sister who was already in Canada, came to pick me at the airport on the 15th of January 2019 and she brought a winter jacket for me, telling me that it was minus 35 degrees outside. I remember telling her, I won’t need the jacket as I have a hoodie, without realizing how cold it can get in winter because I have never lived it before”. “Once I was outside, I recalled, running back inside. I had never experienced that type of cold weather before and I will never forget that day. It was nice to see the world differently, and at the same time, it’s a funny memory I will cherish in my life”.

Mouhamed also shared that his second and most important cultural shock was the language. “I barely spoke English before arriving in Canada. So, my vocabulary and comprehension were not so good. I had difficulties understanding people who speak English very fluently and quickly”.  Although Mouhamed speaks French in his country of origin, it was still a little difficult even in French. “I had a little trouble understanding the Quebec or Franco-Manitoban accent” shared Mouhamed.

“I also avoided eye contact when talking with my professors in college and this was mainly out of respect and it’s also a cultural difference between Canada and my birth country” shared Mouhamed. Soon, Mouhamed learned that in Canada, avoiding eye contact when talking to someone was a sign of disrespect and it also meant that the individual does not care about the conversation. This was a learning curve for Mouhamed and he understood how culture can change between countries and from country to country.

Mouhamed also shared that what has helped him and his friends from Senegal to connecrt with the community was a project that was being conducted at the Universite de Saint-Boniface where he was studying in Manitoba. This 3-year research project was carried out in collaboration with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) and several community partners working for the settlement and integration of newcomers in Manitoba. Mouhamed received settlement and integration services as part of this project. He also got the opportunity to learn from other immigrants who came to Canada before him as well as from other organizations and employer information sessions.

“It is part of a series of projects on the themes of immigration, integration, inclusion and identity. This project has helped me and my friends from Senegal to let people know that we love Canadian culture and respect the traditions and culture, but we also shared that we do not want to be judged for things we do based on our culture or religion” added Mouhamed.

Asked if there is one thing, he would have liked to know before coming to Canada, Mouhamed said that he would have liked to know that even though English and French are both the main languages, he would have liked to know that English is the language mostly spoken by people in Canada. He also shared that if he had known that Rugby and American Football were the main sports here in Canada, he would have been more serious about it in Senegal to increase his chances of playing in the CFL.

Mouhamed stated that if he had to do it all over again, without any doubts, he will. “Canada is a land of opportunities and there are so many employment opportunities. And, you can achieve your goals and become anything you want or have a career that you want. There are no limits” added Mouhamed.

While life is good here in Regina, Mouhamed said he truly misses his parents, siblings and the traditional food.

Mouhamed shared that many times people have referred to him as being an altruistic person. He was a volunteer in an association that cares for sick and disabled people in small villages in Senegal. In that association, Mouhamed shared that he had the opportunity to learn more about people and develop a love for helping people.

“Working at COR is more than a job to me, the fact that I get up in the morning thinking that I’m going to see this person and we are going to have a good time together, doing activities together, and helping them feel safe and comfortable is more than a job to me, it brings me genuine happiness. And of course, everything I do, I always try to remain professional at all times”.

Asked where Mouhamed see himself in 5 years and he shared that he will like to have a long career at COR and if the opportunity was presented to him, he is also interested to work in Human Resources, as he has a degree that field.

Thank you for choosing to be part of our COR family, we are grateful that you choose COR and we look forward to seeing you accomplish great things at COR and in your life.


Written by Joana Valamootoo

COR Stories: Faith’s Journey to Canada

Faith Isaac is from the Igbo tribe in the Eastern part of Nigeria. She is the second child of four children and the first daughter within her family. Faith immigrated to Regina, Saskatchewan from Nigeria in 2022 to pursue her master’s degree. She chose Canada as her destination as it is well-known for being one of the friendliest and inclusive environments for people from different parts of the world. There is significant diversity within Canada and within schools that encouraged Faith to pursue her education, including the University of Regina.

The immigration process can be difficult and overwhelming for many people, but for Faith it was smooth; her study visa was approved in just 10 days and she had no bad experience during her application process!

When Faith came to Regina, the first few months were difficult. She experienced significant cultural shock and felt lonely, but adapting to the harsh winter was the biggest cultural shock she had to work through. She also remembered this experience as if it happened yesterday, having vehicles wait for pedestrians to cross over the roads was something she will never forget. It is something she never experienced in her home country and she really appreciates that. To Faith, it shows the value human lives have here in this beautiful country called Canada.

Asked about her integration, Faith said that what helped her to integrate into the community was the gift of good friends and a good support system. Her friends made her transition phase seamless. As an international student, Faith said that she would have loved to know that one requires some form of ‘superpower’ to combine school and work here in Canada. If only she knew how difficult it would be to combine education with work life, she said she would have prepared herself mentally for the struggles of being a student and making ends meet at the same time.

Despite the challenges and cultural shock that comes with immigrating to a new country, Faith said that she would happily choose Canada all over again. “Canada feels like a home away from home to me”, said Faith. She continues by saying that she had made many friends and met many kind people here.  She also expressed that she has met some people that have supported her in making her transition and integration easy and smooth. There is a big community of supports for immigrants and if you look in the right place, you will find someone, or an organization, to help you settle down and be part of the Canadian community.

Faith also expressed that she has never experienced racism in Regina, or at least she has not identified any behavior of racism towards her, although, she has friends who are from other countries that share their personal experiences with racism. Fortunately, she has yet to experience it herself.

Immigration helps to create a more diverse and vibrant country, each person you meet has a different story and while many immigrants come to Canada for the world class education system, many immigrants also come to Canada as refugees. Canada has long been, and continues to be, a land of immigrants. Since the time of Confederation, Canada has welcomed more than 17 million immigrants. Immigration is a big part of Canada’s DNA and what makes Canada a great country is the coming together of many different cultures living together and appreciating what everyone brings to the table. Canada is a new home, far from home, for many people.

Faith was referred to COR by good friend and became connected to our 4to40 Initiative where she provides support with job coaching. Faith has a growing passion to serve and support people with intellectual disabilities and is motivated to make a difference in the lives of others.

We are proud to have Faith join our COR family and are grateful for her kindness, caring personality and dedication to the people we support. Thank you for sharing your story and welcome to your new home! 🙂


Story by: Faith Isaac

Written by: Joana Valamootoo

COR Stories: Pete’s Triumph Over Adversity and His Path to COR

Pete MacNaughton is not only a Key Support Worker at COR, Pete wears many hats in the community; Pete is a pastor at the Chris Lutheran Church; a firm advocate for the most vulnerable people of our society such as the people affected by homelessness; a volunteer for many important causes and has also been one of the people on the Pride Committee for many years. Pete is equally known for his beautiful personality and his beautiful smile. Pete was born in Regina and raised in Fort Qu’appelle for a number of years before moving again to Regina. Pete also comes from a religious family; Pete’s dad is a pastor. Pete has not always been the happy and smiling individual that we know at COR, Pete had a difficult childhood and adolescence stemming up from being born in a dysfunctional family as he described but also struggling with his self-identity as a gay man.

Pete was 4 years old when he came to the realization that he was different from other boys in his pre-k class. He was already aware that he has an attraction for boys. Asked about how he knew this at such a tender age and he said that he felt special around boys and deep down in his heart, he knew he was different. “When I got older, around the age of 8 or 9, I tried to really control the attractions I felt for boys, I tried to make myself attracted to girls,” said Pete. During the 70s and 80s, it was more than taboo to talk about sexuality, yet alone, talking about being interested with the same sex as yourself. “There were a lot of stigmas and shame with being gay” mentioned Pete.

Even though, he tried his best to cover up his homosexuality, Pete said everyone knew he was gay. “I have been called all types of words, kids told me I should have been a girl and I was a misfit. I felt rejected in Grade 5 and Grade 6” shared Pete.

Pete shared that he was constantly bullied in High School. “I even had a gym coach who made fun of me and made the kids laugh at me. I was called a “Fag” on a daily basis”. Pete remembered an incident that took place during recess. “I was bullied by a kid and one day the kid told me that I smell “fag” and in return I told the kid that the smell was coming from him and advise to use a deodorant”. Pete said he didn’t know where he got the courage to tell him that and all the kids laugh at the boy that was bullying him. That afternoon, after school, Pete was physically assaulted by that boy. Pete said that day he felt good about himself for standing against bullying and for being able to stand up for himself. But soon, he realizes that he was alone and thoughts of killing himself started to come to his mind more and more. At this moment in time, he started to experience mental health. He felt that he was living a nightmare and that there were no better days to come for him and there was no way his life was going to get better or ever be normal. Pete lived with a lot of stress and depression.

Pete said that his mother used to attend AL-Anon group- Al-Anon is a fellowship group designed to help people who are affected by a loved one’s drinking behavior. The support group is also commonly referred to as the Al-Anon Family Group. Pete’s dad was a pastor, but his dad also had an alcohol addiction problem and it really disrupted their lives at home. “Mom used to come home and tell me what she has learned from this group and she also learns about mental health and how to cope with mental health issues during crisis and this really helps me with my mental health”, shared Pete. At this point, Pete said he felt safe with his mom but he didn’t feel safe outside of the home.

Pete shared that he felt so lonely that he befriended a teacher and one day the teacher told him to go away and go play with other kids. “I compensate those feelings of loneliness and feeling isolated with overeating, I had nobody on my side, I felt the pressure of the world on my shoulders, I am grateful though I had my mother and my family from my mother’s side”. Pete said that her mother knew but they never talked about it when he was small.

Pete also shared that he didn’t want to bother his mother with his problems, he mentioned that mom was already going through a lot with dad’s alcohol addiction.

Pete grew up in a religious family, later at university, he steps away from his Christian faith community because he knew he will never be accepted as a gay man. Pete started to learn about the 2 spirited individual from the indigenous faith led community. His perception at that time was that the Indigenous community was more welcoming towards the gay people and towards differences. “I so wanted to fit in and to be part of the community,” said Pete. He also mentioned that he tried to stay away from his own Roman Catholic faith.

Pete has not yet come out as a gay man, but he was starting to want to be in a relationship. But it was not easy at that time, “I had a friend that I came out to him and he was my boyfriend”, said Pete. “At this point, he was the only person that knew I was gay,” said Pete.

At university, Pete thought there will be many conversations, he soon realizes that he was there to learn only what the lecturers wanted them to learn and this didn’t motivate him to continue studying at the university. Even though, he was getting over 95% of my papers, he felt that he was never going to learn anything that really matters to him. Pete dropped out of university and started working at a cleaning company. The owner-a woman told Pete that he can mentor him not be gay. Pete shares that he was young and naïve and thought that he needed someone to save him. Soon, Pete realized that again he was in a dysfunctional relationship with his employer but for years Pete worked at this cleaning company.

Pete finally came out as a gay man at the age of 25 years old. Pete shared that he felt pressured to come out as he has started to join the Pride Community to organize Pride, and as his dad was the pastor at the church, he felt it was important to let his dad know that he was part of the community and he is gay. Pete didn’t want anyone telling his dad other than him. His dad told him that it was okay as long as people are not aware that he was gay.

Pete shared that his coming out was very liberating and it was also very uplifting. It has been a long road and there were and there are still many battles to win. It was as if some of the pressure and sadness were released.
Pete started going to a bar to meet people but didn’t feel safe and even to this day, he confesses he does not feel safe in bars. His first relationship was with an artist and it lasted only 6 months and he went into a depression again. During the same time, he was working 90 hours per week, he didn’t have much time to socialize and felt like a hermit.

Soon, he was in a depression and everything seem to go the opposite way, something was missing in his life and Pete knew that he had to reconnect with his catholic faith, and he shared that he felt a heavy weight lifted from his shoulder. Pete started to research to find out how he can be part of the church as a gay man. With time and perseverance, Pete has finally found his way with his faith and as a gay man in the church setting. It took many years of suffering and being isolated from everybody.

Pete shared that when he met his boyfriend, Dan, everything sort of fell into place and it gives him confidence in himself. “Being queer is part of my identity”, said Pete. Dan helped Pete with key decision about his professional life and told him to apply at Turning Leaf. At Turning Leaf, he finally found his calling, which is to help and support people with intellectual disabilities.

Later, Pete applied and was hired at COR, where Pete said he feels like he belongs and will one day retire from COR.

“Gentle Teaching is my language, it’s what I believe and what I preach, finding myself so in line with my faith in my workplace is in itself a blessing” mentioned Pete.

Asked about have we can all embrace acceptance of the LGBTQIAS in our society, Pete states that we need to eat patriarchy, male dominance, everything that is the opposite of gentle teaching. “Gentle teaching is all about love and sin is the absence of love,” said Pete. Pete goes further saying that if we all embrace gentle teaching in our lives, we will be more accepting of our differences.

Pete also said that loving ourselves is fundamental, this is the only way to break barriers. “We also need to recognize that privilege in our society is killing our planet and is killing love”.

Pete recognized that his experience in this world as a gay person made him support people at COR with honesty and integrity. “COR is so in line with every fiber of who I am as a person”.

Pete shared that he was lucky to have his mother as an ally, who always accepted him and accept him as he is and never asked him to change. “I recognised that I am lucky this way, some people do not have anyone supporting them, as a white man, I am privilege too, I know that it is tough for gay people that are also people of color and it might be harder for people in other countries,” said Pete.

Asked if it is easier to come out now and Pete said that it is easier for white men to come out; according to Pete, transgender people suffered more than anyone and people of color equally have to go through a lot to come out and sometimes they simply never come out as a gay person fearing for what might happen. Pete said that in his experience upper class and middle-class white men and white women can come out more easily than other people.

Pete also wants the world to know that vulnerability is something we all have in common. Embracing our vulnerability is how we make the change. According to Pete, we cannot embrace vulnerability if we are still in privilege mode. We need to accept first that we are in a place of power and privilege and that change starts with us. Pete also said that gentle teaching is not only what he uses at work but it is part of his existence. “Gentle Teaching is at the core of who I am as a human being”, said Pete.

Pete will soon step into an important part of his life; Pete is happy to share that he is getting married to the love of his life. If you see him, please take some time to congratulate him as this is a big phase of his life. Sometimes marriage is taken for granted as it is easily accessible but in many countries’ marriage between people of the same sexes are still not legal, in some countries, it is even considered a crime and has serious consequences.

Pete, we love having you as part of our COR family, thank you for being you and for changing the world one person at a time. We wish you the best and congratulation for your upcoming wedding. We look forward to celebrate you and your achievement in the organization.

Written by Joana Valamootoo

Meet The COR Family: Lindsay Surtees

Hi, I’m Lindsay! I am a Registered Nurse and have been in my position with the COR Health Team for a little over a year. I have been involved in the disability sector for the past 15 years in varying capacities. I first heard about COR while working at a summer camp for individuals with disabilities. My journey with COR started nearly 10 years ago when I moved to Regina to attend the U of R. I left Regina in early 2014 to pursue some other goals and opportunities in Alberta, but returned in 2018 to attend nursing school. As soon as I returned to Regina, I knew I would like to be involved with COR again, as I had had a very positive experience as a support years earlier. I was thrilled to get to join the same team and reunite with the individuals I had supported previously! I went back into a support role while I attended University. Once I graduated nursing school, I spent some time working in the Emergency Room before joining the COR Health Team in early 2022. I feel very fortunate that I have the opportunity to combine my passion for supporting individuals with disabilities with my nursing and healthcare education/experience in my role with COR!

I have had many, many positive experiences and opportunities during my time with COR. Individuals with disabilities experience greater health disparities than those without. In my role with the health team, I am given the opportunity to collaborate with other healthcare professionals to advocate for better health outcomes for those we support. Being a small part of something that helps lead to healthier and happy lives for those supported is very rewarding. I am proud to be a part of an organization that values relationships, community and connection. COR has given me many opportunities to learn and grow into a better support, a better person and a better nurse.

My advice for prospective COR candidates would be to come in with an open mind and a willingness to learn! Supporting COR is fun, rewarding, challenging and enriching. There are so many opportunities within COR to grow, connect, engage and learn.

fun facts about me:

-I’m almost always listening to a podcast

-I use to work as a whitewater raft guide

-I coach CrossFit

-I LOVE reality TV shows

-I am trained as an End of Life Doula