PIRS Selected as B.C.’s Council of the Federation (COF) Literacy Award 2021 Recipient

Wednesday, September 8th, 2021

Pacific Immigrant Resources Society Selected as B.C.’s Council of the Federation (COF) Literacy Award 2021 Recipient

Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS) was thrilled and honoured to receive the 2021 British Columbia’s Council of the Federation (COF) Literacy Award on September 8th, 2021. The $500 award will be used to continue its literacy programming.

In 1975, as a part of the Immigrant Resources Project, an ESL program was first created to support immigrant mothers in Chinatown. The Project later became PIRS, one of the only charitable organizations in Vancouver and the Lower Mainland focusing specifically on the needs of migrant women and children. Since then, PIRS has provided low-barrier, culturally relevant, and trauma-informed services—including English and digital literacy education, children’s mental health education, the Kindergarten Transition Program, leadership programs for personal and career development, the Food Access Project, and childcare.

In British Columbia, around 700,000 people struggle with literacy, numeracy, and digital literacy. PIRS is unique in providing safe and accessible, women-only programs to migrant women that include quality childcare alongside literacy programs. In 2019-2020 alone before COVID, PIRS delivered 7 Community English Classes, with early years children programs attached to the classes, serving 663 moms and 429 children.

Available in multiple locations in the Lower Mainland, PIRS’ Community English Classes offer low-barrier English learning from pre-literacy to CLB 6 level speakers. PIRS also partners with Burnaby Neighborhood House (BNH) and Simon Fraser University (SFU) to offer the Digital Literacy Exchange Program, providing underrepresented target groups with digital literacy education.

“Literacy has been central to PIRS’ work since its inception in 1975 and has proven to be a critical skill to both immigrant women and their children, especially as they establish a sense of meaningfulness and belonging in their new communities.” said Kathy Price, board chair, Pacific Immigrant Resources Society. “PIRS interprets literacy widely and its work encompasses physical, family, financial and digital literacy as well as more traditional reading, writing and speaking. Literacy, in all its forms, is a key to access the opportunities that Canada offers.”