one person at a time


Sonia Raquel Martins De Oliveira
Confident. Prepared for interviews. Ready to enter the labour market.


58% of COSTI clients are women.

Many immigrant women to Canada are well educated and experienced professionals, but are overlooked by employers because they are not able to articulate and clearly explain their past work experience. The aim of the Women’s Employment and Life Skills Workshops is to help develop self-confidence and to act as a bridge to employment.

Sonia Raquel Martins De Oliveira lived in Portugal for many years and returned to Canada in 2015. While she was thrilled to be back, she was overwhelmed – with credentials that go unrecognized in Canada, and with no Canadian work experience, she began to feel that she would not be able to build a productive and fulfilling life in Canada.

“The process of looking for employment and trying to fit into the Canadian workforce was quite challenging, so I decided to go to COSTI and ask for advice where I was told about the Women’s Employment and Life Skills program. I signed-up and learned a lot of valuable ‘how-to’s’ regarding résumé writing and interview skills. The interview skills component of the program was especially helpful considering that in Portugal the interview process is much more casual. Going for an interview in dark jeans and flashy jewelry is perfectly acceptable… in Canada, not so much!

The Assertiveness & Self-esteem Workshop was especially helpful. It’s difficult adapting to a different culture, even one that I was previously familiar with. One’s self-esteem does get shaken-up and through this training, I realized that both my studies and work experience are still useful.

My program colleagues (who came from Eritrea, India, Russia and Mexico) and I were taught the importance of promoting ourselves and our accomplishments as well as being assertive. This is quite important since we all came from different cultural backgrounds and for some of us, self-promotion and assertiveness is frowned upon. Many in the program received additional help in improving their English pronunciation, business writing and communication skills. Personally, the self-esteem and assertiveness training along with the interview skills component were the most valuable. With the support received from Cynthia Pichette, the Life Skills and Pre-Employment Consultant, I feel better prepared going to an interview. The program helped me change my mindset regarding the fact that I now know that I have a lot to offer the Canadian job market and my future employer!”


Over 1600 received counselling to cope with domestic abuse, attended support and trauma groups, or participated in the Lifeskills, Pathways to Success, or Women of Courage


2200 women registered for English classes and computer training courses at COSTI.

Services for Women

Operating with the shared objective of developing the full and equal p articipation of women in all facets of our communities, COSTI staff help women of diverse background and experiences in overcoming economic, health, legal and cultural barriers. The goal of COSTI’s programs and services for women is to address systemic and personal barriers that impact on immigrant women and provide a supportive environment that move women from a situation of dependency and isolation to a more empowered state.

Immigrant women have access to workshops on topics relevant to their wellbeing: health, parenting, domestic violence, etc. COSTI’s Trauma Group for Spanish-speaking Women offers individual and group counselling for Spanish-speaking women and their children experiencing trauma.

The Lifeskills Counselling Program provides workshops combined with individual counselling for women to improve their self-confidence and increase their employment potential. Located in the Region of Peel, Pathways to Success provides low-income women opportunities to explore self-employment and stabilize their personal and family situation. Women in need of housing support services are provided childminding and travel supports in order to access services.

Provides women with a college certificate in office administration. Combined with group counselling, life skills workshops and job search activities, women are prepared for employment. Offered in partnership with Humber College.


10 Gillingham Drive
Tel: 905-459-8855

700 Caledonia Road
Tel: 416-789-7925

760 College Street
Tel: 416-534-7400

1700 Wilson Avenue, Suite 105
Tel: 416-244-7714

6750 Winston Churchill Blvd., Unit 8A
Tel: 905-567-0482