Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions2016-10-12T14:42:44-04:00
Can I use OCISO as a reference on my resume for work or school?2017-10-29T10:35:02-04:00

OCISO is willing to provide references for volunteers who have completed a minimum of 40 hours of volunteer service.

If I am a student can I receive credits for my volunteer work with OCISO?2017-10-29T10:35:36-04:00

This depends on your academic institution and must be organized through your school. Students may wish to apply for a student placement with OCISO, however, students are encouraged to apply in advance and arrange a placement before the start of the semester.

Can I be reimbursed if I have to travel by car or bus to reach my volunteer location?2016-10-09T16:33:38-04:00

If transportation is a concern for you please contact the volunteer coordinator to arrange reimbursement. Volunteers that choose to use their own vehicle can receive reimbursement for travel when volunteering by filling out the mileage log form. Volunteers that use bus services can make a request for bus tickets.

I have lots of other commitments – do I have to volunteer at the same time every week?2017-10-29T10:38:17-04:00

Some volunteers like to have a fixed appointment with their service user, but others arrange appointments on a week by week basis, for example, if they work shifts. This is fine, as long as the volunteer is reliable and consistent, and keeps the volunteer coordinator updated.

How many hours per week are required from volunteers?2017-10-29T10:38:51-04:00

A volunteer is asked to provide a minimum of one to four hours per week on average. A commitment of three months minimum is expected of all volunteers who join OCISO in order to make this a worthwhile experience for all persons involved. A successful volunteer experience requires commitment on the part of both OCISO and the individual volunteer.

Do volunteers work both during the week and on weekends?2017-10-29T10:39:25-04:00

The schedule for most volunteer work at OCISO is generally between 9-5 and 5-8 pm. On rare occasions, for example special events or private tutoring, there may be some work scheduled for weekends. However, this is generally the exception not the norm.

Do I work with people of all different ages as a volunteer at OCISO?2017-10-29T10:40:55-04:00

Yes. Depending on your area of interest and your past experience, you can be assigned to work with children, youth, newcomer adults, or seniors groups. For example, experience in early childhood education can likely be a great match for parents needing childcare assistance while they are involved in learning English language instruction through the LINC.

If I am not able to work on the week scheduled for my volunteer role, is it possible to re-schedule for another time?2017-10-29T10:41:43-04:00

Yes. The volunteer position is flexible according to your schedule, although advance notice of absences is appreciated. The only exception is for childcare and classroom assignments. Commitment and punctuality are very important when working in coordination with families and teachers.

If I speak additional languages, is it possible to be assigned to work with persons who speak the same language(s)?2017-10-29T10:42:27-04:00

Yes. OCISO always strives to make the best possible match between volunteers and clients. Any attributes or skills that enhance the match between volunteer and newcomer client are taken into consideration during the volunteer assessment process.

What skills do I need in order to work as a volunteer?2017-10-29T10:42:56-04:00

Volunteers can contribute a variety of skills to the work at OCISO.  Of course, some volunteer opportunities are more specific and may require some specific skills and experience. For instance, teaching English may require language fluency or administrative support may involve working with software programs, spreadsheets, databases and word processing. The best OCISO volunteers are reliable, committed and passionate about helping newcomers in our communities

What do volunteers do at OCISO?2017-10-29T10:46:04-04:00

Volunteers provide support for the staff working at OCISO. There are a variety of programs that volunteers can participate in, including:

  • Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC)
  • Mentoring Programs – career and youth
  • Youth Program
  • Homework Tutor – for children, youth, and adults
  • Seniors’ and Women’s Programs
  • Conversation and social group activities
  • Reception/Administrative Assistance/Office Support
  • Tax Clinic
  • Seniors’ and Women’s Programs
  • Conversation and social group activities
  • Translation and Interpretation

There are enough activities available to match the unique interests of all volunteers who want to devote their talents, skills and time.

How do I apply to become a volunteer with OCISO?2017-10-29T10:47:28-04:00

Please read the descriptions of our various volunteering opportunities on to explore the many volunteer opportunities we offer. Please fill in an application form online and upload your resume. A volunteer coordinator will be in touch with you.

Does OCISO receive funding support for its work with newcomers to Canada?2017-10-29T10:48:19-04:00

OCISO operates as a non-profit organization in Canada and relies on funding from Canadian funding sources at the federal, provincial, and municipal level.  Some of OCISO’s funders include:

  • City of Ottawa
  • Community Foundation of Ottawa
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC)
  • Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration
  • Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services
  • Ontario Trillium Foundation
  • Ottawa-Carleton District School Board (OCDSB)
  • Status of Women Canada
  • United Way/Centraide Ottawa


How many people use the services at OCISO on a yearly basis?2017-11-06T12:20:10-05:00

Over 12,000 immigrants and refugees a year are supported through the programs and services offered at OCISO

Where is the OCISO office located in Ottawa?2017-10-29T10:49:38-04:00

OCISO staff work at three different locations across Ottawa. These locations include offices at:
• 959 Wellington St. (Settlement and Integration, Counselling, and Peers Programs)
• 945 Wellington St. (Administration, Community Economic Development, Multicultural Liaison Coordinators, YOCISO)
• YOCISO and LINC-Ottawa South at 1800 Bank St.

All OCISO offices are easily accessible by OC Transpo.

How many staff work at OCISO?2017-10-29T10:50:05-04:00

OCISO currently employs approximately 120 staff in a variety of departments. Our team come from many different parts of the world and speak many languages.

What type of programs and services does OCISO provide for newcomers to Canada?2017-10-29T10:50:38-04:00

OCISO offers a range of programs and services to help newcomers settle into their new life in Canada. These programs include:

  • The Settlement and Integration Program (SIP) provides multilingual and multicultural services in order to facilitate successful adaptation and integration process for immigrants and refugees.
  • The Community Economic Development (CED) program delivers career mentoring and networking programs to support newcomers to obtain employment in their field.
  • The Language Instruction for Newcomers to Canada (LINC) Program provides free English classes for adults.
  • The Counselling Program provides supportive guidance for persons who have experienced trauma and upheaval in leaving their homelands.
  • The Multicultural Liaison Officer (MLO) Program provides integration services in schools to newly arrived children and youth and their parents.
  • YOCISO programs assist immigrant youth, ages 13-24, with their settlement and integration process in Canada.
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Our Mission!

OCISO supports immigrants through the journey of making Canada their home by providing creative and responsive programs that are culturally and linguistically appropriate, by building community through mutual respect and partnerships, and by fostering healthy and inclusive spaces for open dialogue and healing.

What we do 🙂

We are community based non-profit organization that has been providing services in Ottawa since 1978. We are motivated by the stories of new immigrants, and we are there every stage of the journey. OCISO directly serves over 10,000 immigrants and refugees every year. Our work is augmented by the generous efforts of our enthusiastic, caring and talented staff, volunteers, both established and new Canadians.