The Pacific Immigrant Resources Society (PIRS) is the recipient of B.C.’s 2021 Council of the Federation Literacy Award for its leadership and focus on creating inclusive literacy programs for refugee and immigrant women and children.

“Literacy empowers people. It is crucial in all of our daily lives, enabling us to do things that most of us take for granted, such as reading a story to a child or applying online for a job,” said Josie Osborne, Minister of Municipal Affairs. “My heartfelt congratulations go to PIRS for its exemplary work in helping women and their families develop literacy skills, while building strong community connections to support their well-being.”

Located in Vancouver, PIRS provides immigrant women and children who live anywhere in the Lower Mainland opportunities to access education and community services to help them participate fully in their communities. PIRS focuses on flexible and inclusive community-based English literacy and learning programs that respond to people’s individual needs and reduce barriers for women by providing programs with built-in child care services.

“PIRS is honoured to be selected as the recipient of B.C.’s 2021 Council of the Federation Literacy Award,” said Kathy Price, board chair, PIRS. “Literacy has been central to PIRS’s 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. 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 accessing the opportunities that Canada offers.”

PIRS demonstrates leadership through innovative partnerships. This includes its digital literacy program and teaching other service providers to apply trauma-informed perspectives and practices to help newcomers improve their overall sense of well-being. Through ongoing community outreach, conversations with learners and formal assessment, PIRS ensures its literacy programs remain responsive and relevant to the needs of participants.

“Congratulations to PIRS on winning the 2021 Council of the Federation Literacy Award,” said Margaret Sutherland, executive director, Decoda Literacy Solutions. “It is exciting to see this low-barrier, culturally relevant and trauma-informed approach to developing English literacy skills honoured, as we know that people with stronger literacy skills are more likely to enjoy better health, have better job opportunities and be more engaged in their community.”

Council of the Federation Literacy medallions and honorariums are awarded yearly to educators, volunteers, learners, community organizations and businesses in each of Canada’s provinces and territories on Sept. 8, International Literacy Day. The award recognizes individuals and organizations for their outstanding achievement, innovative practices and excellence in literacy.

Quick Facts:

  • An estimated 700,000 people in British Columbia have significant challenges with literacy, numeracy and digital literacy.
  • The Province supports literacy in partnership with Decoda Literacy Solutions. Decoda provides resources, training and funds to support community-based literacy and learning initiatives in communities throughout British Columbia.

Learn More:

For more information about Pacific Immigrant Resources Society, visit:

For more information about B.C.’s Council of the Federation Literacy Award, visit:

For more information about the Council of the Federation, visit:

For more information about Decoda Literacy Solutions, visit:

For a French translation, visit: