Every year, about this time, I take a few moments to reflect on MCIS’ accomplishments over the last fiscal year. I also take stock of how my leadership and those of others who work with me has evolved. Last year I actually realised that much clarity comes from stillness and so I actively practised being alert and attentive to occurrences, choosing to be responsive rather than reactive. This meant doing more long term proactive visioning and fewer reactive acts which result from not properly anticipating impending crises. It has taken MCIS a long time to make this conscious shift. In the past we had justified our acts based on funding uncertainties. This year our team decided to work ourselves out of that rut to assume a longer term vision. We began our sprint on the path to sustainability, which is taking the shape of a more concrete plan in the current fiscal year.
So what are the key initiatives which underpinned our pro-active approach?
We worked on several HR initiatives
We hired our Director of Finance and Operations, a position we had done without in the past. When that function was devolved from myself to an expert, there was a dramatic upgrade to the dashboard measures that we were able to track to help us plan our finances long term. It also cleared up a lot of my head space to do more strategic thinking.
We grew our talent pool and identified leaders for every one of our core activities. So we, besides our Directors, we now have Managers or Supervisors who are qualified to handle Interpretation, Translation, Resources Development, Business Development, IT and Operations, Social Impact Initiatives and Human Resources. Each of these leaders has well defined goals. In the last year, they all grew their teams as the demand for services continued to scale.
We formalized our Performance Management System which had run a pilot year. Post evaluation we implemented all that had worked with the score cards and performance measures for the year. This helped us track each individual’s productivity and to identify developmental goals. This set MCIS on the road towards a cohesive and common goal.
We engaged in several soul nourishing ventures which may not have received our attention in the past
With long term visioning came the desire to make a lasting impact on our local community.
Through our collaborative cookbook, Food for Language, we engaged our interpreter community to tell stories about the food experiences in the geographies they came from and to share recipes. In November 2013, we published our book which can still be purchased on Amazon. All proceeds continue to go to Sandgate Women’s Shelter to help them start up a Community Kitchen Initiative.
Two, we developed a free online training to address human trafficking. We launched our website helping traffickedpersons.org and its French counterpart, aiderlesvictimesdelatraitedepersonnes.org, in January 2014, and have over 1000 persons registered to take all or parts of the training. This training, which was commissioned by the Ministry of the Attorney General for Ontario, is available free of cost.
Three, we developed a collaborative project with Documentary Organisation of Canada (DOC), Toronto Chapter, to use the power of documentaries to help immigrant communities mobilise around issues that matter to them and effect social change. We selected 25 fellows who will learn about and screen documentaries and form film clubs in their communities over the next year.
We launched our new and improved technology platform
We invested time and effort to take a long term view of our technology needs and completed Phase 1 of the proposed 3 Phases of our upgrade. This meant transitioning into a new system and MCIS’ staff members were stupendous and showed great courage as they stress tested and then transitioned into the new system.
We developed our Online Interpreter Training in French
We made further strides to embrace bilingualism by supplementing a grant from Francophone Affairs, with MCIS’ earned income, to make the interpreter training program, with specialised modules on domestic violence, human trafficking and sexual violence, available in French. The training has been evaluated and is now available to the public at http://www.mymcis.org.
Through all this we grew our customer base, recruited and trained language professionals and continued to streamline service delivery to reduce our costs.
MCIS continued to enjoy the guidance and counsel of a magnificent board consisting of talented, committed and passionate professionals who gave unconditionally with their time and expertise. My colleagues on the staff team probably had the most difficult year in recent times, as they adapted to a new system and came through in spades, upbeat, cheerful and strong. There was a burst of energy that saw the fruition of the several interesting and creative initiatives that I have mentioned above. As always the staff team was assisted by a wonderful group of high calibre volunteers and interns.
Our beloved interpreters and translators continued to be our lifeblood, our reason for being. We thank you for earning us such a good name in the community with your professionalism, generosity and work ethic.
As always we have several funders to thank this year – the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration (MCI), the City of Toronto, Ontario Trillium Foundation and the Ministry of the Attorney General. We are extremely grateful to all of you for acknowledging and supporting the important work MCIS does.
We are the bridge that our service providers need to address communication barriers. Without naming you since you are too numerous, I want to thank you all for your dedication and commitment to use MCIS ‘ high quality language services for your clients.