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Elizabeth Gryte Tribute 2007

Elizabeth Gryte Tribute 2007



Throughout her professional...

Throughout her professional
and personal life, Elizabeth
Gryte demonstrated an
uncommon dedication and
commitment to easing the
settlement process for
refugees and immigrants upon
their arrival in Canada. For the last decade, Elizabeth
held the position of Manager
and, more recently, Director of
Settlement Programs for the
Ontario Region of Citizenship
and Immigration Canada (CIC). This is a tribute to Elizabeth, presented at the 2007 OCASI Professional Development Conference.



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    Elizabeth Gryte Tribute 2007 Elizabeth Gryte Tribute 2007 Presentation Transcript

    • Elizabeth Gryte 1948-2007 A Tribute
    • Throughout her professional and personal life, Elizabeth Gryte demonstrated an uncommon dedication and commitment to easing the settlement process for refugees and immigrants upon their arrival in Canada.
    • For the last decade, Elizabeth held the position of Manager and, more recently, Director of Settlement Programs for the Ontario Region of Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC)
    • Ratna Omidvar – Former President, OCASI I will forever remember Elizabeth for her wonderful jewellery and flamboyant colours. She had this wonderful silver necklace with a frog and I was always mesmerised by it. In the last few years Elizabeth and I connected on a personal level on a whole bunch of things, books, poetry, travel and pottery. We spent a lovely evening in Oslo talking about Canadian books.
    • But we spent most of our time talking about her passion - immigrants and refugees. In her office she had all these mementoes that she had received from refugees and there was always a wonderful and very personal story attached to each of them. She was so dedicated to their well being.
    • For this and so much more, I will always remember Elizabeth with great respect, fondness and admiration. Ratna Omidvar - Executive Director, Maytree Foundation
    • Kemi Jacobs - Former Director, OCASI Elizabeth was a consistent champion for immigration to Canada and was instrumental in the creation of several programs which provided critical supports to newcomers.
    • Although Elizabeth was often the 'face' of Citizenship and Immigration Canada to many advocates who pushed for improved services for newcomers, and that ' face', was (by definition) often on the opposite side of the line, Elizabeth's commitment to settlement was never questioned. Kemi Jacobs – Toronto Community Housing Corporation
    • Maisie Lo – OCASI Director When I started my career in settlement many years ago, I did not know much about CIC. I did know someone named Elizabeth Gryte. Whenever I saw her, whether in meetings or conferences, I knew that she would bring along ideas, thoughts or information that mattered. To me, she was CIC.
    • She was part of the era when the settlement sector laid foundation, gained ground and beat all odds. We were all in it together. You cannot think of those years without thinking of Elizabeth. Maisie Lo - WoodGreen Community Services
    • Tim Owen – Former Director, OCASI I knew Elizabeth for more than 20 years, but she was always full of surprises. It might have been because of her modest nature, but she kept much of herself private. This is a shame, because she had a naturally generous, creative and caring personality.
    • Perhaps oddly for a career civil servant, she had little patience for the safety of the routine, or for doing things the way they had always been done. She was always open to new ideas, and creative approaches. She challenged her colleagues, at CIC, and us in the community, to do things differently, to do things better, and to ensure our focus was on the needs of our clients.
    • It is hard to think of her without also remembering Kerry Reade. In the late 1980's the two of them were instrumental in creating many of the programs we take for granted today, including the Reception Centres, LINC, and settlement programs in the schools. They imagined how things could be better, and never tired of working to do just that. Timothy Owen – World Education Services (WES)
    • Howard Sinclair Jones – Founding Executive Director, OCASI At the Memorial for Elizabeth in Toronto a couple of weeks ago, Mike Malloy mentioned Elizabeth's quot;lookquot;... her unnerving ability to put you in your place by staring you in the eye, often with a few carefully- chosen words!
    • My most vivid memory of this was at a Canadian Council for Refugees conference in the late 1980s. I was a member of a panel asked to comment on some aspect of settlement policy -- I can't remember what some 20 years later, nor quite what I said -- but what I do remember is feeling particularly grouchy that morning. Even at the best of times I could be a bit undiplomatic about certain aspects of federal settlement policy - and 9:00 a.m. was not the best of times for me!
    • Anyway, after we finished, I was filing out of the room with about 200 people and found myself next to Elizabeth. Somewhat embarrassed I blurted out, quot;Hi Elizabeth! How are you? Did you enjoy that?quot; At which she gave me THE LOOK, got a twinkle in her eye and replied: quot;What do you think I am? A masochist?“ I never asked Elizabeth such a stupid question again! “Elizabeth’s Look” – Fond Memories, from Howy Sinclair- Jones…
    • Axelle Janczur – OCASI Director Think way back to 1984 or 85, thereabouts… Elizabeth Gryte was the ISAP officer for the Centre for Spanish Speaking Peoples in Toronto...picture her in a mini-skirt and thigh high black boots...big auburn hair.... She was a lot of fun and told us stories about her escapades hitchhiking around Guatemala when she was attached to a consular office in Central America.
    • These were my first experiences working with CIC and she influenced my attitude immensely. She was warm and compassionate, self-deprecating and always ready for a laugh. She was very fair and reasonable and very appreciative of the work the agency was doing with immigrants and refugees in Toronto. I think her personal experiences helped to inform her professionally.
    • Another memory I have is, again, many years ago....1988 maybe. A journalist called me with questions about some immigration or refugee related issue that was hot at the time. I was not experienced in talking to the media, actually I was flattered by the call and I was frank and honest about issues he raised. This was then used against CIC as part of a story they were doing - and it was a good example of my words being used out of context to further a
    • particular story line. When the story was published, Elizabeth called me and ripped a strip out of my hide - and then she proceeded to give me very good advice for how to deal with the media in the future. She taught me the best lesson about media relations that I ever received in my life and stays with me to this day. I think she quoted Churchill to me ... something about him having said that everyone has to eat their own words at some point in their lives.
    • Every time I speak to the media now (and since then it has been many times in my professional life), I remember Elizabeth and thank her for that lesson. Axelle Janczur – Access Alliance Multicultural Health Centre
    • Fatima Filippi – OCASI Director My circle of learning with Elizabeth Gryte began in the late 1980’s at one of the very first CIC-SPO meetings. I remembered her bright burgundy red lipstick and funky teddy bear necklace. I thought that we SPOs had a “softy” who would support us.
    • After the meeting, the SPOs left with only a few wounds and our pride still intact. I learned that we needed to do our homework and be prepared to take just as much constructive criticism as we handed out. I later had the opportunity to work with Elizabeth on a working group to address the discrimination that immigrant women faced when trying to access federally funded English language classes.
    • Elizabeth was passionate and determined to make changes; she did not hide her feelings for the policies of the day. She insisted that we forge ahead and think critically about our recommendations. Elizabeth was instrumental in setting up Settlement Language Programme (SLP) for Immigrant Women; the forerunner to LINC. And in March 2007, my circle of learning was completed when I last saw Elizabeth at the first LINC Co-ordinator’s Conference in Toronto.
    • Elizabeth gave the group a history of the LINC programme and its birth from the Charter Challenge. I was impressed. Again I was reminded of her long standing commitment to address the barriers faced by immigrant women, while improving standards for everyone else along the way. Fatima Filippi – Rexdale Women’s Centre
    • Elizabeth dedicated her long and successful career to improving the lives of newcomers. Elizabeth’s charm, wit and intellect will not soon be forgotten. Her passing is a great loss and her presence will be truly missed. Reza Shahbazi – OCASI Director, and New Canadians’ Centre of Excellence Inc.
    • Passion and Creativity….what a fantastic combination! These qualities were evident in Elizabeth’s work and in her art. The more I learn about her private self since her passing, the more I have come to appreciate these qualities and the more I admire her as a woman, as an artist and as an individual committed to supporting immigrants and refugees in Canada. May she rest in peace. Josie Di Zio – OCASI Director, and COSTI Immigrant Services
    • Elizabeth was loved by some and disliked by others, often misunderstood. She was a friend to the sector who gave her all to ensure immigrants and refugees had access to community services. May she rest in peace in the knowledge her legacy lives on. Lucya Spencer – Former President, OCASI, Immigrant Women’s Services of Ottawa
    • I respect and admire her commitment and dedication in helping immigrants and refugees to settle in Canada. She will be missed. Stephen Lam – Former Director OCASI, Catholic Community Service of York Region
    • Elizabeth gave a lot for the cause of immigrants and refugees. She supported innovations in the sector and in many ways, was a strong supporter of building community capacity in the sector. We will miss her dearly. Carl Nicholson – Former Director, OCASI Catholic Immigration Centre, Ottawa
    • Yew Lee – Former President, OCASI I met Elizabeth for the first time in the mid-80’s when she came to Ottawa to visit the OCISO. Another esteemed colleague, the late Kerry Reade, introduced her to me. At that time Elizabeth shared her experiences on the frontline, working with refugees in Winnipeg and in Edmonton.
    • She spoke passionately about how churches and agencies rallied together to help new immigrant families, and about the struggles of her immigrant family. Elizabeth had profound insights into the friendships that often occur when “old Canadians” and “new Canadians” meet. This insight continued to inform her work throughout her exceptional career, and as the Director of Settlement in Ontario.
    • As the Director of Settlement, Elizabeth’s accomplishments are manifold, and well known to all of us in this sector. I was shocked when I heard that Elizabeth had died, …and I still struggle with sadness and disbelief that she is not here with us today. Elizabeth, we have shared many struggles and successes together.
    • We shared in the promise that there must be less suffering for those that arrive on our shores. We shared in the promise that life can be much better for immigrants… And we continue to believe – that we can make it so. We will all miss you Elizabeth. Yew Lee – Former President, OCASI
    • Mario Calla – Former Director, OCASI Elizabeth Gryte was an exceptional individual and an exceptional civil servant. Her passion for her work made a significant difference in the lives of thousands of immigrants. One vivid memory I have of Elizabeth is of her going to Pearson Airport at midnight to greet the arrival of a group of political refugees from Cuba.
    • She followed them to the COSTI Reception Centre where she worked with staff into the early morning hours photocopying documents and ensuring that everyone had a warm meal. Passion and conviction drove everything she did. I will miss her greatly. Mario Calla – COSTI Immigrant Services
    • Morteza Jafarpour – Former Director, OCASI During the last 25 years, when Elizabeth worked for CIC, she contributed significantly to the wellbeing of immigrants and refugees in Ontario and throughout Canada. She never failed to express that her main commitment and loyalty was to the wellbeing of immigrants and refugees. She admired innovation and challenged hypocrisy.
    • For those of us who have had the privilege of working with her, we enjoyed her wisdom and were challenged by her whenever we were trapped in our inaction and limitation. Elizabeth was a mentor, coach and a role model for many of us. She was a beacon for many of us who wished to dream and aspire to greater accomplishments.
    • She not only helped us to envision the dream but generously she taught us how to live it. For many of us she has been larger and deeper than life, just wonderful! We will miss her! Morteza Jafarpour – Settlement and Integration Services Organization