Award Recipients 2011

Congratulations to the 2011 Employer Excellence Award Recipients!

The following Ottawa employers were recognized at the 2011 Employer Council of Champions for their outstanding practices in recruitment and retention of skilled immigrants in their workplaces.


From left: François Baril, Vanier Community Service Centre; Donna Rennie, MBNA Canada; and Corinne Prince-St-Amand, Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

Citizenship and Immigration Canada – Large-Size Employer, Recruitment Category

In recognition of the Federal Internship for Newcomers (FIN) program, Citizenship and Immigration Canada received an award for the large-size employer, recruitment category. The FIN program provides qualified skilled immigrants with valuable paid work experience to help them integrate effectively into the Canadian workforce.

Job-ready candidates are recruited for the FIN program with the help of partnering immigrant serving agencies, LASI World SkillsService Intégration Travail Outaouais and World University Service of Canada.

To smooth the onboarding process, cross-cultural competency training is provided to all interns, managers and mentors. Each intern is paired with a mentor to help them pursue career development and build networks. Since its announcement to expand last spring, the Program has more than tripled in size, offering 71 work placements to newcomers. Participating departments and agencies have increased from two to eleven, and several other departments, agencies and crown corporations have confirmed their participation moving forward.

“Each intern, including the intern in our division, brought tremendous skills, talent, and knowledge to our department while supporting an enriched and diverse work environment. It has been a true honour to lead the coordination of the Program and participate as a Manager,” says Mary Da-Costa-Lauzon, Manager, Federal Internship for New Comers Program, Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

“Through this opportunity I gained invaluable experience working with a very competent and dynamic policy group at CIC, which eventually led to my permanent position. Today, I am humbled to say that the opportunity afforded through the internship has restored my ability to provide for myself, “ says Madut Majok, Policy Analyst, Citizenship and Immigration Canada and a graduate of Federal Internship for New Comers Program.

MBNA Canada Bank – Large-Size Employer, Retention Category

MBNA Canada Bank (MBNA) has made diversity one of its key business drivers, including hiring strategies to attract and retain skilled and professional immigrants. MBNA offers candidates unique employment opportunities in an environment that encourages them to gain experience and develop a career in the financial services industry.

MBNA has established five Associate Affinity Groups to eliminate barriers to inclusion. These groups facilitate networking, mentoring and development opportunities for its employees, as well as provide a consultative voice to help the bank develop its diversity and inclusion best practices. Recognizing that development of its employees is critical for its business; MBNA’s Tuition Reimbursement Program provides opportunities for eligible employees, including skilled immigrants, to complete post-secondary training to help enhance their opportunities for growth within the organization that will support MBNA’s business strategy.

“Sustaining a diverse and inclusive environment is a journey that makes us a better business, a better partner in the communities we serve and a better place to work,” says Donna Rennie, Senior Vice President – Human Resources Manager.

“During my on-boarding process, MBNA Canada was phenomenal in providing me coaching to excel in my job’” says Mayank Sharma, Strategies Analyst and skilled immigrant. “One day my manager asked me about my goals and aspirations. From that day onward, he guided me each and every step of the way to help me reach where I wanted to be.”

Vanier Community Service Centre – Small-Size Employer, Retention Category

Vanier Community Service Centre (VCSC) believes that its skilled immigrant staff is an asset to the organization as the centre serves an increasingly diverse client base. All of its job postings are made available to its entire network of immigrant serving agencies. The centre’s flexible recruitment process recognizes and values the qualifications and international experience of new Canadian candidates, giving equal opportunity for all candidates to be evaluated equitably.

VCSC organizes quarterly lunches with its senior management and its employees which allows for open exchange consultations to help create an inclusive workplace. Its Diversity Committee celebrates the richness of the centre’s international cultures through activities that includes diversity potlucks and lunch-and-learns. To encourage and support its employees to reach their full potential, access to training is available to all staff at every level of the organization. Skilled immigrants make up 43% of VCSC staff.

“Whether we are dealing with planning services or everyday activities, our immigrant colleagues enjoy sharing their expertise and know-how. One of the key contributors to the harmony and cohesion of our team is that there is no such thing as them or us,” says Michel Gervais, Executive Director

“The Vanier Community Service Centre gave me the opportunity to work in my area of expertise. I work in an inclusive environment where employees are encouraged to reach their full potential. I am proud to be part of the VCSC team,” says Joumana Azzi, Program Manager and skilled immigrant.


The Employer Excellence Awards recognize local employers for their innovative recruitment and retention policies, and promising practices around the integration of skilled immigrants into their organizations. The awards categories include small, medium and large private- and public-sector organizations and businesses in the National Capital Region.

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