Social Innovation and System Change

Women teaching a child the number 4

We recognize that immigrant and refugee women are the experts of their own lived experiences, and we aim to provide the platform to uplift their voices and expertise to affect the systems and policies that impact their lives. Together, we implement advocacy and social innovation projects to influence decision-making and address gender equity issues.

Current projects

Our current social innovation and system change projects include:

Youth Advisory Committee

PIRS Youth Advisory Committee is a leadership committee of young newcomer women aiming to understand and reduce barriers to higher education for newcomer youth. This project is funded by the Community-University Engagement Support (CUES) Fund through the UBC Community Engagement office. 

Download the Youth Advisory Committee flyer

Youth Advisory Committee

Building a Childcare System that Works for Immigrant and Refugee Women

The Building a Childcare System that Works for Immigrant and Refugee Women project is a 2.5-year PIRS initiative funded by Women and Gender Equality Canada. It supports a feminist response and recovery from the current impacts of COVID-19 through systemic change in the childcare sector.

Learn more about the Building a Childcare System that Works for Immigrant and Refugee Women project.

Immigrant Women Advisory Committee (IWAC)

The Immigrant Women Advisory Committee (IWAC) is a platform that takes small but meaningful actions to close service gaps and break down barriers for immigrant and refugee women to thrive in Canada. 

Learn more about Immigrant Women Advisory Committee (IWAC)

IWAC group - Diverse group of women smiling
Food Skills 600 x 400

Food Security Research Project  

The Food Security Research Project is a partnership with the Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS) at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) to research local food access among newcomers to Canada in the Metro Vancouver area in 2021. As a result of this project, we developed the Food Skills For Families program.

In 2022 we launched the Immigrant Women Food Policy Group to engage in further discussion and knowledge mobilization for policy change around this important issue.

Read the full project report

Substitute Child Care Staffing Solutions Research Study 

The Substitute Child Care Staffing Solutions Research Study is a comprehensive study of the need for and potential impact of a centralized substitute child care staffing service funded by the City of Vancouver in 2021.This research continues to be timely due to expansion of childcare services to accommodate the $10aDay Child CareBC program. The province is now facing critical workforce shortages.

PIRS collaborated with Dianne Wilmann and Associates on a qualitative, action research study. The goal was to understand:

  • how tensions within the broader childcare system play out in the realm of substitute childcare
  • the implications for immigrant and refugee women, who make up one third of the overall childcare workforce.

Download the PIRS Childcare Staffing Solutions Pilot Report

Woman playing with infant at childcare

Mobile Child Care Project  

The Mobile Child Care Project (also known as Pop-up Child Care) is a social service delivery that aims to improve the accessibility of childcare in Metro Vancouver. We do this by developing innovative solutions to help address gaps in the childcare system, while also providing equitable employment for immigrant women.

The project operates supervised, play-based child care in settlement agencies and provides substitute staff to licensed child care centres. While being connected and exposed to a variety of early learning environments, our childcare staff receive continuous training, mentorship, and support making their careers in the early learning and childcare industry more rewarding.

Past Projects

See our Past Projects.

More info
If you are interested in partnering on an initiative with us, please contact us at or at 604-298-5888.
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Women and children served

Since 1975, PIRS served 17,716 women and 9,116 children and counting.

Newcomer Support

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Women trained

84 women completed training programs in 2023 to become more effective leaders in their communities.

Women Leadership & Training

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Food hampers distributed

448 people continue to be served weekly through the emergency Food Hub.

Social Innovation & System Change

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We need donors like you to help newcomer women and their children thrive in Canada.