48th Annual General Meeting: Celebrating Our Community of Champions

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On November 14th, we gathered for the 48th Annual General Meeting to celebrate our successes and share the invaluable lessons learned through the past year. The room buzzed with excitement as donors, funders, and community partners came together. The evening was made even more special by the presence of multiple generations of PIRS, including some of our founders and past Board members.

One of the highlights was hearing from Renuka Sarup Seru (Renu), PIRS’ current Vice-Chair, whose journey with PIRS started in the Building Bridges program as a participant. l

Renu shared the challenges she faced as a new immigrant in the early ’90s when employers did not recognize her qualifications and extensive professional experience from India. It was disheartening. During that difficult time, she learned about the Building Bridges program and decided to join. The group and program facilitators understood Renu’s challenges, having faced similar barriers in their own settlement processes.

Renu expressed, “The Building Bridges program helped me to gain confidence in myself, helped me to network, to enhance my employability skills and to normalize the [settlement] process.” While in the program, she secured a teaching position at UBC and later found a teaching and counseling job at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU). After 29 years of service at KPU, she retired last year. Renu returned to PIRS as a board member to give back and support other immigrant women in the community.

Renu’s story is not unique. Many of our long-time supporters began their journey with PIRS as program participants. We are grateful for their trust and continued support.

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It was also special to see our new generation of leaders – Childcare Leadership Group – present a thought-provoking Photovoice exhibition Through the Lens: A Photographic Exploration of Exclusion, Inclusion, and Belonging in the Childcare System, as part of the Building A Childcare System that Works for Immigrant and Refugee Women project. Touching on stories of discrimination, isolation, resilience, but also joy and empowerment, the exhibition offers an opportunity for community members and decision-makers to engage and learn from the lived experiences of immigrant and refugee women.

As we reflect on the highlights of this special evening, we extend our heartfelt gratitude to each supporter, funder and partner who has played a role in PIRS’ journey. Your support makes a tangible difference, creating ripples of positive impact in the lives of immigrant and refugee women and children we serve.

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From left to right: Angela Heino, Mariam Bouchoutrouch, Kathy Price, Fatima K. Ahmed, Sonam Swarup, Renuka Sarup Seru, Prerna Thaker.

Here are a few ways you can continue to make a difference:

  • Advocate for Sustained Funding: Talk to your MLA/MP about the importance of sustained funding for organizations like PIRS.
  • Contribute to PIRS’ Educational Bursary: Support the education and empowerment of immigrant and refugee women in our community.
  • Become a Donor/Monthly Donor: Join our community of supporters who make a lasting impact through regular contributions.
  • Support PIRS’ The Shoe Project: Stay tuned for ticket sales starting early December.
  • Read Our 2022-23 Annual Report: Gain insights into the impact of your support and the progress we’ve made together.

We are profoundly thankful for the incredible multigenerational community of champions that makes PIRS a family, and we look forward to continuing this journey of empowerment and positive change together with all of you.

Photography by Natalia Botero