On September 9, 2021, Mariam Bouchoutrouch, Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS)’ Executive Director, was interviewed by CBC for a segment on Radio Canada to discuss PIRS’ recent award, the Council of the Federation Literacy Award. To watch the full segment in French, visit Radio Canada.
PIRS is honoured and grateful to have been awarded the Council of the Federation Literacy Award for our outstanding achievement, innovative practice, and excellence in literacy. Literacy is central to the work of PIRS and has been since its inception. In 1975, an ESL program was created to support immigrant mothers in Chinatown; over 45 years later, literacy remains a critical skill for both immigrant women and their children as they establish a sense of meaning and belonging in their communities. PIRS interprets literacy widely—encompassing physical, familial, financial and digital literacy, as well as more traditional skills of reading, writing, and speaking. PIRS anticipates and addresses barriers to literacy for immigrant women by providing accessible quality childcare alongside English classes and by adopting a community-centred approach to programming.
PIRS Community English Classes, which serve about 700 migrant women per year, create a safe and accessible space to learn. In an annual evaluation survey, 93% of participants reported that the class made them feel more confident in speaking English. As their language levels progress, our participants may join our Moving Forward, LEAD, and Building Bridges programs for goal setting, pre-employment, and leadership skills development.
Immigrants come to Canada to make a better life for themselves and their families. PIRS delivers a range of programs that centre literacy at their core, because in the words of Kathy Price, PIRS Board Chair, “literacy, in all its forms, is a key to access the opportunities that Canada offers.”