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The George Sisters Bursary: A Stepping Stone for Immigrant and Refugee Women to Access Higher Education and Employment

November 29, 2022

Financial barriers place continuing education out of reach for many immigrant and refugee women, stifling their growth and preventing them from using the skills they have. This is why PIRS is deeply grateful to Patsy and Crissy George for establishing The George Sisters Bursary to support women in upgrading their credentials to allow them to work in Canada or to access higher education for the first time to increase skills and employability.

We are honored to introduce you to these powerful activists and philanthropists!

Born in Kerala, India, Crissy and Patsy came to Canada to pursue higher education. Throughout their career they worked as frontline social workers, and both sisters have been change makers and leaders in the field of social work and champions of human rights and social justice. They are widely recognized for their contributions to humanity and for their effort to uplift the conditions of the disadvantaged. 

Patsy received numerous distinctions including Order of British Columbia, Order of Canada, Woman of Our Times Award, and honorary Doctorate degrees from University of British Columbia and University of the Fraser Valley.

Patsy and Crissy helped to found local community service organizations, including Vancouver Association for Survivors of Torture, Burnaby Neighborhood House and… PIRS! Patsy George was a founding member and chair of the Board of Directors, dedicating almost a decade of her leadership and guidance to PIRS between 1981 and 1989. 

Together, the sisters established an endowment to start the George Sisters Bursary in 2006 for female university students in social work and social studies, female international students pursuing higher education, and for immigrant and refugee women in the community to support skills upgrading, professional development and career advancement in Canada. 

In 2020, PIRS was chosen by Patsy and Crissy to administer the bursary. Since then, over $9,000 were distributed and 9 women received funds to upgrade their skills, credentials and pursue meaningful employment. 

Carolina Macias Gallardo was one of the first recipients of the George Sisters Bursary in 2020. Carolina is a Building Bridges program graduate and is currently a second year student of the Airport Operations program in BCIT. The bursary helped her pay the tuition. She is currently working a part-time job at YVR and is busier than ever! Reflecting on her journey, Carolina says:

“I have always been passionate about aviation. The aviation industry creates many job opportunities in our communities and brings economic prosperity to our country. As a newcomer woman to Canada, I am very proud to work at YVR and be part of such a resilient industry. My commitment to safety gives me the inspiration to continue improving professionally and serving the public to the best of my ability.

I want to express my gratitude for the financial support provided by Patsy and Crissy George. Thank you for believing in me and supporting in the pursuit of a meaningful career in Canada.

On behalf of our community, and from the bottom of our hearts, PIRS thanks Patsy and Crissy George for their dedication to empower immigrant and refugee women to reach their full potential. We are humbled by their support and committed to follow in their footsteps.

Photo of Patsy and Crissy George by the University of the Fraser Valley