We are very pleased to have done the “Opportunity Cost of Not Investing in Interpretation” report – it is so important to have clarity on these challenges and…

Hindia Mohamoud, Director, OLIP
Canada has been shaped by people who came from all over the world to build this country. Welcoming Ottawa Week offers a platform for Ottawa residents to celebrate both this…

Alex Munter, Chair of the OLIP Council and President and CEO of the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario and Ottawa Children’s Treatment Centre
I was happy to see integration to Algonquin territory and indigenous culture related programming in 2014 WOW. Please continue to involve local Aboriginal organisations and…

Linda Manning
WOW 2014 participant, Senior Fellow, University of Ottawa
OLIP helps to unite and share scarce resources for greater impact by working together in the field of student education.

Walter Piovesan
Associate Director of Education, Ottawa Carleton District School Board
The target beneficiary of the work of OLIP is the whole community. In this short period we have planted together important seeds for Ottawa’s development.   

Dick Stewart
OLIP Council Chair
All the WOW events that I went to were great – WOW does give a sense of a community trying to improve its attraction and retention!

Caroline Andrew
Professor, University of Ottawa
I’m really impressed with the level of energy and commitment around the Health and Wellbeing table and look forward to continuing collaboration between OLIP and OPH.

Marcela Tapia
Ottawa Public Health
The OLIP Council is committed to leadership.  In only a few years, we have a common vision and priorities, and are up to the task of implementing the Ottawa Immigration Strategy.

Salimatou Diallo
OLIP Council Vice Chair, Assemblée de la francophonie de l'Ontario
Welcoming Ottawa Week is wonderful platform to demonstrate our city’s longstanding openness to immigration and commitment to supporting newcomers’ successful integration. …

Jim Watson, Mayor of Ottawa
In our city’s history, immigrants have always played an important role. They build our economic prosperity, diversify our culture, contribute to our social vitality.

Jim Watson
Mayor of Ottawa

Multicultural Liaison Officer Program

March 1, 2013 How to Replicate

Subject of Analysis

Inclusive and Equitable Education, Intercultural Competency, Parent Engagement, Welcoming Schools


Wali Farah, Ikram Jama

Multicultural Liaison Officer Program: A Unique and Effective Service Delivery Model

In 1991, the Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization (OCISO) created the Multicultural Liaison Officer Program (MLO) in order to meet the needs of immigrant families in Ottawa schools. The MLO program has become efficient, effective and innovative model of service delivery to assist with the successful of integration of newcomer families and children into the Ottawa school system. The MLO program has been replicated all over Canada (Outside of Ottawa the program is known as Settlement Workers in the Schools –SWISS program). To meet the needs of French speaking newcomer families, OCISO later created the Agent de Liaison Multiculturelle (ALM). In 2012 the ALM program’s name was changed to Travailleuses et travailleurs d’établissement dans les écoles (TÉÉ).

MLO Program Approach

Schools are one of the first services that immigrant families connect with in the community. The program allows for settlement services to be provided on-site at schools and facilitates the interaction between students, parents, teachers, school administrators and a broad range of organizations, immigrant serving agencies, and settlement services, enabling all involved to work toward shared goals, such as quality of education for students, increased intercultural competence and awareness, and a smoother integration of immigrant and refugee families.

What makes the MLO program unique?

The success of the MLO program rests on the fact that it’s based on the recognition, to borrow an African proverb, “it takes a village to settle and integrate newcomers in our communities”. There are two important features that speak to the innovative nature of this program:

  •  Unique partnership between Ottawa School Boards, OCISO, the Federal Government and newcomer communities.
  • Providing settlement services on site (in the past settlement services were delivered in settlement agencies) which makes the program highly effective.

What Multicultural Liaison Officers do in the schools?      

  • Assess the needs of students and parents when they first come to the school
  • Orientate immigrant students and parents about the education system and their roles and responsibilities
  • Provide language and cultural interpretation at meetings involving staff members, parents, and students
  • Provide referrals to organizations that assist students and their families settle in Canada and liaise with the local community organizations to improve immigrant families’ access to community services
  • Contact parents about the educational and social development of their children and keep them informed about events at the school
  • Organize and deliver workshops for staff and all students to increase cross-cultural awareness and understanding
  • Encourage parents to get involved in the school
  • Liaise between the school and community about changes in the community’s demographic profile, partnership possibilities, and issues of concern
  • Help bridge cultural differences, mediate conflicts, and facilitate resolution
  • Coordinate OCISO’s summer programs, the Step Ahead and Now Programs, and other special projects.

Program Impact

Through daily interventions, outreach and information sharing the MLO program greatly contributes to student success, facilitates a relationship between the schools and new comer families, supports immigrant parents to become familiar and confident in dealing with the school system and supports the schools to create a welcoming environment for immigrant and refugee families.

Based on the MLO program success in Ottawa, CIC duplicated the model and launched the Settlement Workers in Schools program, which now has 225 settlement workers operating in schools across Canada.

The MLO program has become an important feature in many communities across the country and greatly contributes to creating welcoming communities for newcomers to Canada.