In this project, Norquest College "developed a series of self-assessment tools to streamline access to services in the settlement sector. The resources have also been designed to help measure digital literacy skills among newcomers, settlement service practitioners and LINC instructors."

This webinar recording provides a useful overview of the project, findings, and outcomes:

Resources created by the project include:

You can download a literature review they conducted that synthesizes current and past research on how service delivery modalities impact different types of learners and a final report with their findings.

Highlights from their findings:

Recommendations and Further Research

The Arrival Advisor app, created by PeaceGeeks, provides information and services Newcomers need to settle, such as finding a job, learning English, connecting with local community, and more.

Arrival Advisor in British Columbia is available in: English, French, Arabic, Chinese (Simplified and Traditional), Farsi, Korean, Punjabi, Tagalog, and Ukrainian

Arrival advisor in Manitoba is available in: English, French, and Arabic

In 2023 the app will launch nationally, through content collaborations with organizations coast-to-coast. It will rebrand as Welcome to Canada.

PeaceGeeks is a nonprofit organization based in Vancouver, Canada that builds digital tools to empower communities in the pursuit of peace.

Watch the video overview below from the 2021 Sharing Settlement and Integration Practices that Work project and download their full project backgrounder and brief for more information.

Sharing Settlement and Integration Practices that Work is a Pathways to Prosperity project "to share innovative promising practices in immigrant settlement and integration with an empirical basis for their effectiveness."

"The Jane Finch Community Research Partnership was created in 2016 as a result of ongoing engagement between members of the Jane Finch community and York University faculty and librarians. Our goal is to address the historical
research relationships that have existed and
continue to exist between the Black Creek Jane Finch community, York University and other academic institutions. Our work has been focused on creating a community procedure for reviewing
and approving research in the Jane Finch
community, establishing a Jane Finch Research Collection which makes research more readily accessible for Community members and developing resources for researchers looking to conduct research in the community.

The principles in this document are intended to be used as a guide to support and strengthen research relationships between academic institutions, researchers, students, community members, residents and organizations in the Jane Finch community.

The principles summarize the Jane Finch Community Research Partnerships expectations regarding respectful and ethical behaviour by researchers who work in the community and helps ensure that all research on or involving members from the Jane Finch community gives respect to the community and to community members’ perspectives, knowledge and values.

This document was developed to:

  • Protect community members from potential harms related to participation in academic research
  • Facilitate accountability in academic research
  • Focus on the community so academic research is respectful, just and beneficial to the community
  • Encourage academic institutions and their members to make research accessible and create opportunities for the community to fully participate, collaborate and engage with research"

[pdf-embedder url="" title="Principles for Conducting Research in the Jane Finch Community (2021)"]

Download Principles for Conducting Research in the Jane Finch Community.

Six years in development, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) Solferino Academy has launched the Data Playbook v1, "a social learning toolkit to help people along the data journey. There are 10 modules and 120 brief exercises, games, scenarios, slides, and checklists to help teams improve their data skills. We embedded data protection and responsible data use across all the contents.

The Data playbook is like a Swiss knife for any organisation that wants to strengthen its data capacity. It contains versatile and comprehensive building blocks to support your organisation’s data journey."

V1 was created for and by RCRC volunteers and staff. The Playbook cites the Responsible Data Forum, School of Data, Aspiration, Centre for Humanitarian Data, and Fabriders in the credit and on applicable contents.

What you'll find:

List of Data Playbook modules


"The playbook approach uses a ‘pick-and-choose’ model rather than something to be ‘read and used’ from cover to cover in a sequential order. It is for teams to improve their data skills. There is a guiding table of contents for the whole Playbook. Each module also has a ‘cover page’ to give you guidance on how to use the content in the module, and sometimes, across modules. We also created some draft ‘curriculum /workshop templates’ to demonstrate how various teams might use the playbook as part of their planning for individual workshops or even over months at a time.

We have sequenced Data Playbook Modules from 1 to 10. A project team or trainer could follow this sequence if they were on a journey of discovering how to utilise data to strengthen the effectiveness of humanitarian action.

All the exercises, slide decks, and handouts are organised in the Data Playbook by topical modules. They are discreet pieces and each could be used on its own Each exercise and handout has a unique identifier to help you find them. Each item was created and reviewed by RCRC colleagues. Most of the content has been tested throughout the last 5 years."

5 steps to build a learning session with your team/organization

  1. Talk with your team and make a plan
  2. Download, translate and revise the content
  3. Modify and add your own examples
  4. Organize your team meeting or workshop
  5. Give the IFRC team feedback on how you used the Data Playbook and how you modified it

More information:

Watch this overview to learn more:

and this video for information about how to get started: "There are multiple ways to use the playbook. You can use specific exercises or modules or you can review example workshop templates. We highly recommend you modify the content to suit your needs."

Download the entire Playbook (701 pages) (24 MB):

[pdf-embedder url="" title="Red Cross Red Crescent Data Playbook v1"]

Promising Practices in Accessing Virtual Mental Health: Supporting Refugees during COVID-19 is a project that started during the pandemic and is funded by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Ontario Ministry of Health.


"The social conditions experienced by recently arrived refugees may expose them to increased stress and subsequently, greater distress, than other Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. Refugee newcomers are also typically underserved by mental health services. For most recent refugees, access to health care is through referral by settlement workers, case workers, sponsors, or primary healthcare providers, who often struggle to identify culturally and linguistically appropriate mental healthcare for their clients. With the transition to virtual healthcare, refugees and those referring them may find mental health care even less accessible. As virtual care rapidly expands, service providers are struggling to learn how to identify which services are appropriate and accessible for their clients. By supporting referring service providers, as well as refugee newcomers themselves, we can improve our ability to connect vulnerable newcomers to needed mental health services."

On that page are some useful project backgrounders, along with resources for service providers created by other service providers, and a number of multilingual resources for Newcomers.

Resources for service providers include:

  1. Online counselling agreement from Windsor Counselling Services (PDF)
  2. Tips for Zoom meetings from Calgary Catholic Immigration Society (CCIS) (PDF)
  3. Child and youth therapy considerations and decision tree from CCIS (PDF)
  4. CRR guidelines for video therapy from CCIS (PDF)
  5. Interpreter guidelines for video calling from CCIS (PDF)
  6. Interpreter debrief form from CCIS (PDF)
  7. COVID-19 needs assessment from ISSofBC (PDF)
  8. The Immigrant and Refugee Mental Health Project (website)

You can also access a webinar recording from March 16, 2021:  Reducing barriers to accessing virtual mental health care for recent refugees and other newcomers: "This webinar featured a panel of experts from Ontario and BC discussing access to virtual mental health care for refugees and other newcomers to Canada, during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. Topics include barriers to access and the strategies service providers can use to overcome them."

They recently released a report I thought would be of interest:

Assessing Virtual Mental Health Access for Refugees during the COVID-19 Pandemic Using the Levesque Client-Centered Framework: What Have We Learned and How Will We Plan for the Future?

Read a research snapshot of this report to help you determine what you can learn from it.


"During the COVID-19 pandemic, mental health services rapidly transitioned to virtual care. Although such services can improve access for underserved populations, they may also present unique challenges, especially for refugee newcomers. This study examined the multidimensional nature of access to virtual mental health (VMH) care for refugee newcomers during the COVID-19 pandemic, using Levesque et al.’s Client-Centered Framework for Assessing Access to Health Care. One hundred and eight structured and semi structured interviews were conducted in four Canadian provinces (8 community leaders, 37 newcomer clients, 63 mental health or service providers or managers). Deductive qualitative analysis, based on the Client-Centered Framework, identified several overarching themes: challenges due to the cost and complexity of using technology; comfort for VMH outside clinical settings; sustainability post-COVID-19; and communication and the therapeutic alliance. Mental health organizations, community organizations, and service providers can improve access to (virtual) mental health care for refugee newcomers by addressing cultural and structural barriers, tailoring services, and offering choice and flexibility to newcomers."


I've written about Digital Navigators as a Good Idea previously. A similar initiative out of the UK is Digital Champions.

Digital Champions help people to do things online like:

Core Digital Champion training includes:

The aim is that, with support from Digital Champions, learners will be able to use the internet safely, confidently and effectively.

As part of the ACS-Metropolis Institute's Envisioning the Future of the Immigrant Serving Sector project the Digital Champions pilot will bring this Digital Inclusion and Equity initiative to the Canadian Settlement Sector.

The ACS’ Metropolis Institute, funded by WES Mariam Assefa, is piloting a Digital Champions program for the purpose of promoting digital equity for newcomers and immigrants starting in Nova Scotia, with the intention to be scaled across Canada’s settlement sector. They are working closely with GEO Nova Scotia, which provides those in need with internet services and devices whenever and wherever possible, and the Mhor Collective based out of Scotland. The provide Digital Champion training through Connecting Scotland. These are a group of experts in the field of digital equity and inclusion for many types of social purpose organisations, and primary delivery practitioners and pioneers of the widespread Digital Champions model across the United Kingdom.

Watch an introduction and overview to the project:

The pilot program is co-designed with the Mhor Collective and representatives from the Canadian Settlement sector to ensure that client needs are being met and the material is relevant in the Canadian settlement context. It applies the evidence-based Digital Champions approach towards digital equity using a Train-the-Trainer approach, enabling service provider organisation (SPO) frontline staff and others working closely with newcomers, to deliver simple yet powerful training to their clients. They are also pooling together many crucial tools and resources. As per the Mhor Collective’s promise, Champions “don’t need to be digital experts, just patient communicators with a commitment to helping the people they stand alongside”.

The kinds of things that Digital Champions might help learners to do include:


The beauty of the idea lies in its simplicity and ability to be scaled. Participants are trained to become Digital Champions over the course of a 2.5-hour long core training session which covers topics related to safety, security and confidentiality, first steps for those new to the internet, overcoming fears and exploring new ideas, and the idea of digital inequality as a social justice issue. They then delivered  tailored learnings to clients in need and/or who may still have questions about internet usage. In some cases, clients receiving Digital Champions learnings from staff may be empowered to become trainers themselves, widening this network. In addition to learning core digital skills, modules tailored to the settlement sector include digital skills related to settlement sector priorities, sharing key, localized resources related to employment search, housing, access to health, education and more.

As they scale out to the rest of Canada, ACS-Metropolis welcomes as many enthusiastic partners as possible to begin growing their network of Digital Champions!

To contact ACS-Metropolis staff, please email Lisa, Sarah or Erika.

Some Digital Champion resources:

Digital Champions Network
Launched in 2013 and managed by Digital Unite, the network provides essential tools and accessible support to help Digital Champions wherever they are based promote confident and continued use of the internet across society.

400 technology guides you can use today with Newcomers
Looking for a specific technology guide to help a client or co-worker learn the basics? Don't reinvent, borrow! UK-based Digital Unite has over 400 technology how-to guides that cover a whole host of digital topics. Written by subject matter experts and updated regularly, the guides are perfect for supporting others with digital skills or improving your own knowledge.

Remote Digital Championing
Guides covering some tips and techniques for providing remote support to learners, an increasingly important service in times of social isolation.

Digital Champions Scotland
The Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO) resources and information for Digital Champions.


The Newcomer Research Network (NRN) at the University of Calgary is an interdisciplinary community of researchers from the Faculties of Education, Nursing, Arts, Social Work and Medicine who work to advance and advocate for research that will inform intercultural practices supporting newcomers across the University of Calgary and the surrounding communities, nationally and internationally, through interdisciplinary collaborative partnerships.

Find out more in this journal article.

More information from the article:


"As immigration to Canada increases, so, too, do the complexities associated with serving various groups of newcomers, including immigrants, refugees, temporary foreign workers and international students. A range of stakeholder groups, such as grassroots community organisations, immigrant service provider organisations and academic researchers, have developed knowledge about how to best serve newcomers as they integrate into life in Canada. To date, there have been few opportunities for members of these and other stakeholder groups to work together to ensure that the needs of newcomers are being efficiently met. In this article, we describe a multi-step process of reciprocal knowledge engagement involving diverse stakeholders and led by the Newcomer Research Network at the University of Calgary. This engagement has the ultimate goal of developing a knowledge mobilisation hub focused on building capacity in community-engaged research with newcomers. In order to understand how we will reach this goal, this article outlines the efforts, priorities, challenges and important lessons learned that occurred as part of the multi-step process undertaken to establish a knowledge exchange with newcomer communities at its core."


"At the University of Calgary, there has been a concerted effort to develop a strategy that encourages, recognises and rewards work in knowledge mobilisation, knowledge translation and community-engaged scholarship. Termed knowledge engagement, the university defines it as ‘a dynamic and reciprocal process in which multiple stakeholders (including diverse groups such as corporations, community organizations, health and social service providers, academics, policy and decision makers, government, and public at large) come together to address mutually identified problems. The purpose of this deliberate engagement is for the co-creation, synthesis, and application of knowledge and evidence to benefit the community at large.’ It is within this context that the work described in this contribution is currently taking place...

The Newcomer Research Network (NRN) at the University of Calgary is an interdisciplinary community of researchers from the Faculties of Education, Nursing, Arts, Social Work and Medicine who work to advance and advocate for research that will inform intercultural practices supporting newcomers across the University of Calgary and the surrounding communities, nationally and internationally, through interdisciplinary collaborative partnerships. Since its establishment in 2016, the NRN has signed memoranda of understanding with SPO partners, including the Alberta Association of Immigrant Serving Agencies (AAISA), Immigrant Services Calgary (ISC) and the Calgary Local Immigration Partnership (CLIP). The NRN has also put forward a multi-pronged vision, the central aspects of which include:

Find out more about the Newcomer Research Network (NRN) at the University of Calgary.

This guide was developed by the Hamilton Immigration Partnership Council (HIPC). It is based on a report conducted in partnership with McMaster University Research Shop. This Good Idea complements and is related to Ethical Considerations in Research with People in Situations of Forced Migration.

Why it was needed

From the report: "HIPC and its members are regularly approached by researchers from local and regional post-secondary institutions to assist with recruiting newcomers for their studies. Research, when done well, can lead to policy changes, new programs or services, and other opportunities to improve settlement and integration for Hamilton’s newcomer communities. However, when approached with limited cultural awareness, insensitivity to lived experiences, or unrealistic expectations, research with newcomers can unintentionally be harmful to or unpleasant for those involved. Many newcomers face barriers in their settlement experiences, often in the form of limited work experience, unrecognized job credentials and poor language proficiency. Therefore, it is important the research community works to remove these as opposed to reinforces them.

To help prepare prospective researchers for their interactions with the newcomer community and service providers, HIPC has collaborated with the McMaster Research Shop to create this guide. We draw inspiration from similar guides created for communities experiencing frequent researcher-newcomer interactions, such as Vancouver’s “Research 101: A Manifesto for Ethical Research in the Downtown Eastside.” Our goal was to gather local perspectives on how researchers can treat newcomer communities with the respect and decency they deserve, and how the
research process be improved for those involved."

Defining meaningful and inclusive

Meaningful research focuses on what’s important to the community. The goal is for the research to have a positive impact.

Inclusive research is when all members of the target population are given a chance to participate. Researchers put supports in place to make sure this happens.

Doing Research with Newcomers created three guides:

For Newcomers - provides them with information about common practices and your their if they decide to participate in research. Sections include:

For Researchers - a guide to inclusive and meaningful research with newcomers. Sections include:

For Service Providers - A Guide to Inclusive and Meaningful Research with Newcomers: Intake Form. This intake form was designed to assist community and service provider organizations when approached by researchers wanting to build partnerships or to recruit newcomer participants for their studies. It is a fillable PDF form you can ask researchers to complete when they approach you about a potential research project. You could also extract the questions and put them into a Word or other document.

[pdf-embedder url="" title="ALG65201 HIPC Newcomers Guide"]



Since the pandemic started, many organizations have pivoted possibilities and options to create digital specialist roles. These new positions were filled by admin staff or settlement practitioners whose roles changed to incorporate digital support and orientation for both clients and colleagues. Digital Navigators are emerging as an essential role in the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector and in the future of a hybrid service delivery model.

What does it take to be a Digital Navigator? Flip through this activity to learn more!


The National Digital Inclusion Alliance defines Digital Navigators as “individuals who address the whole digital inclusion process — home connectivity, devices, and digital skills — with community members through repeated interaction”. Their site provides practical tools and documents that SPOs can use to collect information about technology needs of the community and clients, assess community members’ digital skills, conduct follow-up surveys.

The Digital Literacy Alliance describes digital navigators as an adaptation of traditional digital inclusion roles that will specifically provide remote one-to-one dedicated support to the community. Digital Navigators help citizens identify their internet, device, and training needs, walk them through their options, support them in filling out required paperwork or online forms if necessary, and provide “warm handoffs” (a handoff that is conducted in person (virtual, f2f, or via phone), between two practitioners (within the same organization, or between organizations) with the client directly involved) for additional training or technical support as needed.

In the context of supporting digital skills for the adult workforce, DigitalUS (2020) described digital navigators as “trained staff or volunteers who help learner-workers secure internet access and/or devices and start to use them to help them meet their goals. Those goals can include using an online learning program to reskill, access services, apply for a job, support their children in school, and more. The navigators coach participants in- person at drop-in locations or virtually (through phone hotlines or online chats/meetings) using techniques intentionally designed to develop the confidence and abilities needed to become agile, lifelong learners of new technologies, an essential component for digital resilience”. Their Digital Navigator Resource Hub & Digital Navigator Toolkit provide useful and practical tips and steps about the digital navigator model.

In the healthcare context, digital navigators are regarded as "new team members" in clinical teams in the digital care setting, where they provide app assessment and recommendation, application setup and troubleshooting, and app data preview and analysis for clinicians to support clinical care.

Researchers created a “10-hour curriculum designed to train digital navigators across 5 domains: (1) core smartphone skills, (2) basic technology trouble-shooting, (3) app evaluation, (4) clinical terminology and data, and (5) engagement techniques.”

The report Digital Navigators: Lynchpin in Equitable Reskilling & Recovery Efforts highlights the need for a long-term approach that makes digital navigation services central in any learning and working environment: “For the new learn and work ecosystem to be more equitable, we must figure out the long-term solution so that digital navigation services become a core, funded delivery model and that the systems are in place to ensure that they are effective and affordable at scale.”

Additional information

Simply put:

  • Digital Navigators provide individualized or small group assistance based on learner goals, help learner-workers resolve emerging tech problems with accuracy and efficiency; and provide information so they can make their own decisions.
  • Digital Navigators are individuals who address the whole digital inclusion process — home connectivity, devices, and digital skills — with community members through repeated interactions.
  • Digital Navigators help learner-workers secure connectivity to reliable internet; access low-cost devices; offer tech support; provide referrals to digital literacy and upskilling programs; provide foundational digital skills; and provide upskilling and job training support.

Creating and building the Digital Navigators approach has been a multi-partner and multifaceted approach.

The Salt Lake City Public Library (SLCPL) partnered with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), the Urban Libraries Council (ULC) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) to bridge the Digital Divide in Salt Lake City through the launch of a Digital Navigators pilot project in the Fall of 2020. The goal of the program model was to provide one-to-one basic digital inclusion services — connectivity assistance, device assistance, basic digital skills support — over the phone. The Digital Navigator program with SLCPL served as a pilot project to gather findings and best practices to strengthen a replicable open source model for other public libraries and community-based organizations.

World Education Inc works with Digital US Coalition partners to develop new models for offering “digital navigator” services; coordinate pilots that started in July to demonstrate impact and replicability; and develop training materials, an online resource hub, and a community of practice to facilitate national scaling. The project leadership continues to contribute to and learn from the Digital Navigator working group, coordinated by NDIA, and partially underwritten by Digital US.

The Digital Navigator services model offers flexibility not only in terms of where, how, and when services are offered but also in regards to who provides the service.  Digital Navigators can be trained and dedicated staff, or people for whom it is just a component of their job as a part of their work (such as Settlement Practitioners or Language teachers), or volunteers that help learner-workers (whether through phone, hotlines, or at drop-in locations) secure affordable internet access, devices, and foundational training so learner-workers can meet their personal and career goals. Foundational digital skills can be offered directly or through referrals to learning programs that can help learner-workers upskill, access critical services, search for, or apply for a job.

A model for the Immigrant and Refugee-serving sector?

In your work, you play a key role in systems navigation. Like general Settlement work, as a Digital Navigator you’re helping Newcomers navigate the digital system.

Instead of employment, health, housing, or community systems, here we’re focusing on digital literacy systems.

Digital navigators are trusted guides who assist community members in internet adoption and the use of computing devices.

Digital navigation services include ongoing assistance with accessing affordable internet access, device acquisition, technical skills, and application (app and software) support.

The Digital Navigator in our context helps provide digital literacy skills orientation or training for Newcomers. The Digital Navigator is an advocate and support person who educates and onboards Newcomers so they can make informed decisions about using technology.

This help is provided in person or over the telephone but can also include email, text/digital messaging, video chat, and other communication methods that work for the Newcomer.

Additionally, Digital Navigators play an important role finding and making referrals to programs and facilitating enrollment in digital literacy classes, workshops, upskilling opportunities, critical services, or helping people navigate community resources and services.

Digital Navigators follow up with Newcomers to track progress and to ensure goals have been met.

As I mentioned, it’s a new layer of systems navigation that we all must become more knowledgeable about. It is important that front line workers learn to be substantially knowledgeable about digital devices and platforms and prepare for digital transformation readiness.

Like the hybrid model, you were already a Digital Navigator before the pandemic. And many of you have become Digital Navigators now. Run a workshop on how to use LinkedIn for job search? Digital navigation. Support someone to download and complete a government form? Digital navigation. Over the past years has your organization provided support to Newcomers around devices, internet connections, or digital literacy training (whether you offered it or referred Newcomers to the community)? Digital navigation. Our question is whether the Digital Navigator model is something we want to formalize and integrate into our work with Newcomers.

My suggestion is yes. A 2022 report on Digital Navigators in the United States looked at how helpful digital navigators have been. They interviewed the leaders of more than 40 digital navigator programs and conducted a nationwide survey of over 1,500 digital navigator users. Researchers found some important outcomes for digital navigator users:

  • 66% overcame adoption barriers and have an internet connection and device
  • 86% strengthened their digital skills
  • 80% feel more confident or safer using technology

It’s a model that works. It can work for us.

Backgrounders, resources, and training guides

The Digital Navigators' Toolkit provides a useful backgrounder as well as useful information about assessing the need for a Digital Navigator program, how to hire and train Digital Navigators, as well as evaluate their impact.

What is a "Digital Navigator"? provides an overview of how Digital Navigators have worked and their impact in Philadelphia.

Training Guide is for orienting new Digital Navigators to their role - It was developed for a digital navigator program.

Design and Implementation Resources from Digital US:

The Role of Digital Navigators in Promoting Clinical Care and Technology Integration into Practice - As the role of technology expands in healthcare, so does the need to support its implementation and integration into the clinic. The concept of a new team member, the digital navigator, able to assume this role is introduced as a solution. With a digital navigator, any clinic today can take advantage of digital health and smartphone tools to augment and expand existing telehealth and face to face care. The role of a digital navigator is suitable as an entry level healthcare role, additional training for an experienced clinician, and well suited to peer specialists. To facilitate the training of digital navigators, we draw upon our experience in creating the role and across health education to introduce a 10-h curriculum designed to train digital navigators across 5 domains: (1) core smartphone skills, (2) basic technology troubleshooting, (3) app evaluation, (4) clinical terminology and data, and (5) engagement techniques. This paper outlines the curricular content, skills, and modules for this training.

The Role of Digital Navigators in Promoting Clinical Care and Technology Integration into Practice - modules image large

(click to open larger view)

Digital Navigator Training Appendix - This supplementary Appendix to the to above document provides step by step instructions and resources for each module.