Our friendly, professional team of about 20 employees comes from a variety of linguistic and cultural backgrounds. We speak more than 15 languages, including Amharic, Arabic, Cantonese, Chokwe, French, German, Hebrew, Hindi, Korean, Lingala, Tigrinya, Mandarin, Punjabi, Russian, Sinhalese, Spanish and Tagalog.
Executive Director and Founder
I established Altered Minds Inc. as a non-profit company in 2005. It was a way to bring my diverse experience as a teacher, teacher trainer, language assessor, program developer, global nomad, and lover of cultures and languages together under one roof.
I chose the name “Altered Minds” because learning is a transformative process. When we travel or meet people from around the world and listen to their stories, we change. We become more open-minded, more caring and respectful.
Someone asked me recently, “What inspires you about your work?” My staff inspires me. Every day, when we share lunch or I hear laughter coming from one of the classrooms, I see how much my employees care about each other and about the participants in our programs.
Jacqueline T. Salamisan,
I have a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration, major in Accounting, and a Bachelor of Law degree. I worked as Project Accountant for USAID, CIDA and AUSAID. I also worked as Admin and Financial Officer in two International Non-Government Organisations – Leonard Cheshire International, Far Eastern Region Office, and Christian Blind Mission, CBR Office.
My motivational phrase of encouragement is “Work hard for what you want because it won’t come to you without a fight.” You have to be strong and courageous and know that you can do anything you put your mind to. If somebody puts you down or criticizes you, just keep on believing in yourself and turn it into something positive. Thanks to all the wonderful newcomers I’ve met at Entry Program for teaching me so much.
Cultural Communications and Soft Skills Facilitator
One of my professional highlights was becoming Dean of Students at age 27 at a private post-secondary college. I have over four years’ experience helping newcomers prepare for employment success in Manitoba. I’ve lived in Saskatchewan and Manitoba, and have travelled to Germany, Mexico, and Nicaragua. I am the child of refugees, and my parents had nothing when their families were relocated to southern Germany at the end of World War II. My family story is inspirational because it shows what can be achieved through a great plan and hard work.
Coordinator Employment Counselor
(MA in Translation & Interpretation, Philology, Education & English Language and Literature; PhD in Linguistics)
I was born and grew up in the USSR, a huge country with diverse people and many cultures living together. When I lived in Russia, for 10 years I worked as a university professor and an administrator of the department. I loved my work and my country. When we moved to Canada, I worked as an instructor for the University of Manitoba and volunteered for the Immigrant Centre until I got a one of a kind position with Altered Minds Inc. I coordinated hundreds of interpreters, arranged guest speaker presentations with various organization in the community, and taught Entry program.
The best part of my job is meeting people from all over the world and getting rich from their experience. When my young family of three came to Canada several years ago, we did not know a single person here and we had not been to Winnipeg before. Now, we have travelled all over Manitoba, Canada and the USA, we have met many great people and made some good friends. Canada has become our second home. I believe that we should keep on trying and doing our best in all the circumstances, we should trust ourselves and be open to other people’s support.
I am a Registered Social Worker with Manitoba College of Social Workers, and a member of the Canadian Association of Social Workers, Inc. Before coming to Winnipeg, I worked in the Philippines and Singapore as a Social Worker with the different sectors in the community. Prior to joining the SOPA team, I served as a Settlement Worker at the Salvation Army’s Barbara Mitchell Resource (Centre, assisting newcomers in the St. Vital area in Winnipeg. Today, I assist pre-arrival immigrants bound to Manitoba.
Job Search Strategies Facilitator
My passion is online education and curriculum design. I have extensive experience in delivering language, settlement and employment-related courses online. Besides holding a Master’s in Linguistics from my home country, I hold a TESL Certificate from University of Winnipeg and a Career and Academic Advising Certificate from University of Calgary. Helping people achieve their settlement, language, and career goals is what makes me go to work every day. On a personal note, I am a busy mom of 4 (3 kids + a husband). I love cats, cakes, and coffee:)
My favourite quote is “When life shuts a door, just open it again. That’s how doors work”.
Parmdeep Kaur Saini,
Computers for Life Instructor
I grew up in India where I worked as a teacher for 2 years before moving to Spain. I lived in Spain for over 10 years. I worked there as a restaurant assistant manager, cashier and stock clerk. I speak Punjabi, Hindi, Spanish and English. I moved to Canada in 2014 and started working as a cashier and office clerk. In 2017 I joined Altered minds Inc. – it’s like a dream come true. I am a very proud member of this family. I love meeting new people from different backgrounds, with their stories to be told. I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn – I love it.
Computers for Life Instructor
I first started working with Altered minds Inc. as an interpreter back in 2015. I speak English, Tigrigna, and Arabic. In 2017 I became a certified Interpreter (English-Arabic-English). I loved my job because I saw the benefits it provided for newcomers. Throughout my time with Altered minds Inc. I have held several other positions. I have worked as an Educational Assistant with Living English for Employment (LEE) and now as a computer skills instructor with Computers for Life (C4L).
Currently, I am working towards a Computer Science degree at the University of Winnipeg; however, I am always humbled whenever I discover that I don’t know the answer to a student’s question. It drives me to grow and learn, for my own sake and for the sake of my students. I am proud to be a member of a team with a mission to support and empower others to overcome and improve.
Walid Al Khattab,
Program Coordinator, Youth Drop-in Centre
I am a 27-year-old youth director at Manitoba Islamic Association, and I help coordinate AMI Youth Drop-In Centre. I am originally from Syria, and my goal is to become a lawyer. I have a degree in graphic design and currently hold a real estate license. I do a little bit of everything! On a personal note, I enjoy driving my motorcycle and taking my wife, Nour, to Neon Cone to get ice cream at the Forks!
Indigenous Youth Facilitator
I am an outgoing 26-year-old Ojibwe/Cree woman from Poplar River First Nation. I recently graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Indigenous Studies, and have studied my Music Degree over in Australia! I am super passionate about reconciliation, decolonization and talking a LOT about my Indigenous culture. My favorite pastime is playing guitar to my border collie, Annabelle, and trying to figure out my favorite flavor of iced lattes.
Newcomer Youth Facilitator
I am a 28-year-old passionate mental health advocate and immigrant from Iraq and Syria. I am currently studying for the Bachelor of Social Work and Indigenous Studies. I am a Red River College graduate of Child and Youth Care and currently work within the Louis Riel School Division. I love to read in my spare time and I am always drinking coffee or tea… like, always.