Our History

Group photo, Christmas event at PIRS

The story of PIRS

Founded in 1975 by a group of visionary women, including Beverly Nann and Carole Ann Soong, Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS) was established to address the settlement needs of isolated immigrant mothers through an ESL program with a preschool component. Almost 50 years later, PIRS is recognized as a pioneer and leader in the settlement field, offering a wide range of accessible, inclusive, low-barrier programs for immigrant and refugee women and their children that create a sense of belonging, meaningful participation and leadership.



The Immigrant Resources Project Began

In the spring of 1975, an application to the Secretary of State was made to begin a project called “The Immigrant Resources Project”, under the sponsorship of the Strathcona Community Centre Association. Beverly Nann, Carole Ann Soong and other visionaries saw the need for an ESL program with a preschool..Read More


The Project officially incorporated as “Pacific Immigrant Resources Society”

In 1984, the Project changed its name to become “Pacific Immigrant Resources Society” and officially incorporated as a non-profit society. For the first time, it established a Fundraising Committee to help the Society broaden its reach. With the help of the Board, its core staff and a great number of..Read More


PIRS defined its mission

By 1995, PIRS’ mission was focused to “ensure that immigrant women and preschoolers can participate fully in Canadian community life”.


PIRS partnered with S.U.C.C.E.S.S. to launch Moving Ahead

In 2012, PIRS launched its Moving Ahead program in partnership with S.U.C.C.E.S.S., a collaborative, holistic and participant-centered initiative which applies a “wraparound” approach to help support immigrant and refugee women through regular outreach and home visitation.


PIRS collaborated with MOSAIC to launch HIPPY

In 2013, PIRS launched HIPPY (Home Instruction for Parents of Preschool Youngsters) in collaboration with MOSAIC, our second home visiting program which extended our relationships with women and families who are yet unable to participate in mainstream services.


PIRS celebrated 40 years of service

2015 marked the celebration of PIRS’ 40th Anniversary. That year alone, 458 immigrant women and 34 children and 26 countries of origin participated in our programs.


PIRS piloted Community English for Refugees

In late 2015, PIRS set out to fill a gap and respond to the needs of newly arrived refugee women and their young children. Language Instruction for Newcomers (LINC) programs had long waitlists, especially for women who needed childcare. We wanted to be more flexible, responsive and use a trauma..Read More


PIRS partnered with VCC to deliver the Entry to Hospitality Careers for Women

PIRS partnered with Vancouver Community College to deliver the Entry to Hospitality Careers for Women, which trained a total of 33 immigrant and refugee women for entry-level positions in senior homes, kitchens, and hotels.


PIRS expanded Building Bridges to Burnaby

With new funding from Seedlings Foundation, we expanded the Building Bridges program into Burnaby and at the initiative of one of our graduates, Natalia Verand, we revived the International Women’s Networking Table, a mini-conference that brought over 70 women together to discuss health, leadership and positive communication.


PIRS partnered with VSB to deliver Vancouver Early Years Refugee Program

In the fall of 2016, PIRS partnered with the Vancouver School Board to deliver the Vancouver Early Years Refugee Program. The program includes a home visitor program and a refugee focused StrongStart program, and served 141 children from 100 families in 2016.


PIRS expanded programs, including Pop-Up Family and Celebration of Learning

2017 was a significant year for PIRS. We experienced considerable growth and our budget nearly doubled. Therefore, we were able to expand programs and pilot new ones. With new funding and generous donations, PIRS responded to the Syrian Refugee crisis by delivering a Pop-Up Family program to refugees living in..Read More


PIRS launched the Mobile Child Care Project and Learning Journeys

In 2019, PIRS launched 2 new exciting initiatives: the Mobile Child Care Project (later, Pop Up Child Care) and Learning Journeys. Pop Up Child Care aims to solve two problems: the need in service agencies and community organizations for occasional childcare services, and the high rate of unemployment in the..Read More


PIRS identified food access as one of the most pressing needs in our community

As part of the COVID-19 pandemic response in 2020, PIRS conducted a comprehensive needs assessment with over 350 participants and identified that food access was one of the most pressing needs in our community. As the result, thanks to generous donations and support of community partners, we started two community-based..Read More


PIRS started the Food Security Research Project with Kwantlen Polytechnic University and the Food Skills for Families program

In 2020-2021, 3,166 food hampers were delivered, providing 11,035 individual healthy meals. Following this project, Food Security Research Project in partnership with Institute for Sustainable Food Systems (ISFS) at Kwantlen Polytechnic University (KPU) and Food Skills For Families program were started.


PIRS started Building A Child Care System That Works for Immigrant and Refugee Women project as Canada’s $10aDay campaign rolled out

2022 was an important milestone in the development of Canada’s universal child care system. Since its very beginning in 1975, PIRS recognized the importance of child care for immigrant mothers. This is why our programs always provided high-quality care and early education for children while mothers were in class. As the..Read More
More info
Read more about our yearly milestones in our Annual General Meeting Reports.
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Women and children served

Since 1975, PIRS served 16,277 women and 8,595 children and counting.

Newcomer Support

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Women trained

75 women completed training programs in 2022 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.