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The Chinese Professionals Association of Canada (CPAC) Education

For those unfamiliar with Ontario's education system, making sense of it can be difficult.

The Chinese Professionals Association of Canada (CPAC) is helping to sort through the confusion by hosting an Education Day on Sunday, Oct. 17 at Earl Haig Secondary School. Running from noon to 6 p.m., the event, in its second year, will include seminars, workshops and keynote speeches.

"The education system in Canada is very unique in the world," said Howard Shen, president of CPAC and CPAC Education Foundation. "These families are deeply concerned that they do not have the knowledge and pertinent information on the Canadian education systems and other relevant services."

While CPAC offers settlement, education and employment services to immigrants throughout the year, Shen considers Education Day to be the "crown jewel" of his community events. More than a dozen workshops on topics related to career development and education will be held throughout the day, concluding with a job fair and information booths from universities and colleges in Ontario.

Last year's event was considered by Shen to be a big success and he expects more than 1,000 participants to attend this time around. One special attendee will be Provincial Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Michael Chan, who will be addressing the participants in the main auditorium at the beginning of the day.

Events like this were rare when Shen first came to Canada from China about 20 years ago.

"As a newcomer at that time, the most challenging things for me were a lack of Canadian experience, knowledge of Canadian culture and a local education," said Shen.

He is trying to address all of those issues through his work with CPAC so that newer immigrants can be put on the fast track to success. Legislation in Ontario has helped to improve fair access to professional positions, but Shen's work is far from complete. With the help of organizations like CPAC, success for immigrants is much more attainable than it was decades ago.

"I think the opportunities for new immigrants have been significantly increased in the past one to two decades in Canada," said Shen. "New immigrants have been contributing a lot to Canada's economic and social development. Meanwhile, Canada also provides a great growing place for these newcomers."

Education Day is a free event, but those interested must pick up tickets from participating HSBC branches or the CPAC office, located at 4168 Finch Ave. E. (source:Inside Toronto)

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