Annual Report

PeaceGeeks:
2018 Year in Review

We build digital tools to empower communities in the pursuit of peace.

We’re building a free, multilingual app for newcomers to Canada to ease their settlement by providing access to relevant information and services, from healthcare to English courses to learning about their rights as new Canadians. We partner with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Turkey and Jordan to bring real-time live-saving information about immediate resources needs to refugees through a mobile app. We’re amplifying voices for peace in Jordan by empowering youth to build social cohesion through conversation and through media and visual arts. We host local events in Vancouver to spark conversations about current events and issues and seek solutions at the community level.

1278

Meshkat Workshop Participants in Jordan

153000

Newcomers who will be served by Arrival Advisor

85000

Unique users of Services Advisor
Simon Canning

Letter from our Board Chair

PeaceGeeks builds digital tools to empower communities in the pursuit of peace.

As Chairman of the Board of Directors, it is my privilege to lead PeaceGeeks to deliver positive impacts to the communities we serve. In 2018, we welcomed three new Board Members to our ranks, from the accounting, project management, and digital security sectors. We are now more confident than ever before in our diverse and well-balanced Board, and are looking to expand further in 2019 as PeaceGeeks continues to grow and develop.

Our Board of Directors consistently strives to improve PeaceGeeks’ Governance policies and model, based on the core values of transparency, accountability, and sustainability. In 2018 we strengthened both our financial reporting practices and our project capacities by bringing on key staff members. New staff members contributed to a restructuring of project management roles so we could delve deeper into our current projects and plan proactively for the future of our permanent programs. We also extended our hands for assistance in areas where we felt we needed expert input: to this end we contracted financial professionals to look after our routine accounting and funder reporting.

We enhanced our key messaging platforms and materials in 2018 by initiating a thorough review of past materials, a consolidation of those materials, and a refresh for the present and future of the organization. This undertaking will continue through the first few months of 2019, and coincide with the development of a long-term strategic plan to guide PeaceGeeks through the end of its first decade and into its teenage years.

We are excited to have brought to our ranks a full time Fund Development Manager, so we can begin focusing on improving the state of our core funding and ensuring our longevity, and the sustainability of our programs.

2019 is shaping up to be another pivotal year for us at PeaceGeeks. From the ground up, we are continuing to refine and develop our practices, principles, and programs to best serve at-risk communities here at home in Vancouver, across Canada, and around the globe.

I am constantly moved by our small-but-mighty staff, our incredible Board of Directors, our dedicated and passionate volunteers, and all those who devote their time, skills, and resources at many and various levels to PeaceGeeks.

I hope you too will be inspired to join or support us in 2019!

Sincerely,
Simon Canning

Chair of the Board of Directors
Renee Black

Letter from our Founder and Executive Director

2018 was another year of unprecedented growth for PeaceGeeks.

After we won the Google.org Impact Challenge funding in 2017, we set to work building a groundbreaking mobile app that would tangibly assist all newcomers to Canada — immigrants and refugees alike — by connecting them with a user-friendly directory of important services and relevant information to ease their settlement journey. To this end, the app will be available in seven languages, does not require personal information or a login profile, is useable offline and compatible with in-phone mapping applications. Arrival Advisor is set to launch in March 2019 across Metro Vancouver and throughout British Columbia. We hope to scale the app across Canada, and are currently seeking cooperation and support for that phase of the project.

Approaching the end of its second year in operation, our Meshkat Community Project in Jordan is reaching more people and communities. Between April and December, we hosted nearly 1,300 workshop participants to strengthen community capacity, build social cohesion, and respond proactively to extremism in online spaces. We hosted our first annual Peace Award ceremony, honouring artists and individuals who promote positive narratives of peace or social justice through their work, and we are continuing to build a sustainable foundation for Meshkat programming in Jordan with the intention to continue beyond 2020.

We were fortunate to receive new and vital funding support from the Government of British Columbia, and Immigration, Refugees, & Citizenship Canada, that will go a long way toward funding our Canada-based programs through 2021.

Our team has grown from two full-time staff to 14 in under two years. We have built a phenomenal team that is focused on ensuring we make a positive and sustainable impact on the communities we serve around the world.

None of our accomplishments would be possible without the incredible support from our donors, volunteers, and community partners. We thank you all for your ongoing belief in our mission to build digital tools and empower communities to strive for peace.

2019 will be a defining year for us. As we launch Arrival Advisor in British Columbia and further develop Meshkat in Jordan, we will have a better sense for what we are doing well, and where we have opportunities to strengthen our impact, scale our projects, and expand our horizons. We will be inviting an external evaluator to constructively assess our projects on the ground, and help us develop and implement a five-year strategic plan by the end of 2019. I will travel to Jordan to celebrate PeaceGeeks’ second annual Peace Awards. PeaceGeeks will present at the National Metropolis Conference in Halifax on the intersecting themes of technology and innovation in the Canadian settlement sector. We hope also to present at the International Metropolis Conference in Ottawa in June.

As with any not-for-profit organization, going through a period of growth and transition as we experienced in 2018 is not without its challenges. We are committed to understanding what we are doing well and where there is a need for reflection as we seek to strengthen our foundation going forward.

Sincerely,
Renee Black

Executive Director and Founder

Programs & Project Highlights

🇨🇦
Canada

Connecting communities at risk

Whether in humanitarian crisis situations or countries of permanent resettlement, poor access to information is a critical setback for people rebuilding their lives.

In Jordan, Turkey and Canada, PeaceGeeks helps immigrants, refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) connect to their most urgent services. We supply real-time information and locations of life-saving humanitarian services like food, water, and shelter, for displaced and crisis-affected communities. We also support newcomers to successfully resettle by helping them navigate their most relevant and timely resources.

Funded by
Project Highlight:

Arrival Advisor British Columbia

Leveraging our knowledge and experience from our partnership with the UNHCR to build Services Advisor in the Middle East North Africa (MENA) Region, we spent all of 2018 feverishly building its Canadian counterpart: Arrival Advisor. Arrival Advisor is a free mobile application designed specifically for newcomers to Canada that offers them a comprehensive directory of services and information to help ease their settlement journey.

PeaceGeeks worked closely with newcomers, local immigration partnerships (LIPs), and frontline settlement sector workers to develop a practical and sustainable tool that will serve individuals and families across British Columbia.

Arrival Advisor will help the more than 153,000 immigrants and refugees living in BC to find out how to register for healthcare, enroll in English courses or further education, learn about tenant’s rights and immigration procedures, register their children in school, and so much more. Arrival Advisor will be available in English, French, and Arabic to start, with Chinese, Tagalog, Punjabi, and Korean to follow. Arrival Advisor’s information is saved to a user’s phone so they can use it offline, and it syncs to their Maps so they can navigate their way to services.

Arrival Advisor is also completely anonymous. Users can fill out a short questionnaire about their circumstances to streamline the amount of information available on the app and then bookmark their most relevant topics, but they do not need to offer any personal information or create a profile to do so. PeaceGeeks is passionate about protecting data privacy.

We were fortunate to receive additional funding from the Government of British Columbia to develop Arrival Advisor. Thanks to the support of the Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Jobs, Trade and Technology, and from Google.org and LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact, we are thrilled to be launching Arrival Advisor in March 2019, and are seeking opportunities to expand the app across Canada in the near future.

Learn More

Engaging Global Citizens

From political interference to humanitarian innovation to the increasing imperative of data privacy, global security and conflict are increasingly intersecting with online spaces and technology, in ways that we as an international community have yet to fully acknowledge, understand, or address.

PeaceGeeks hosts events that invite people of all backgrounds, including human rights and development practitioners, innovators, the private sector, civil society, and the general public, to learn and engage in dialogue about how communities can play a role in addressing emerging peace and human rights issues.

Partners and Sponsors
Program Highlight:

PeaceTalks

Since its inception in 2011, PeaceGeeks has hosted PeaceTalks: a free speaker series taking place in Vancouver that highlight important global and local issues related to contemporary conflicts and social issues, peace-building, and the role of technology in humanitarian work.

In April 2018, we partnered with Simon Fraser University and the British Consulate-General in Vancouver to host a panel dialogue with three members of the White Helmets, the unarmed Syrian organization made up of volunteers who conduct urban search and rescue of civilians injured by bombings or trapped under the rubble of destroyed buildings. The White Helmets have saved over 100,000 lives since the outbreak of the Syrian conflict, and earned Nobel Peace Prize nominations in 2016 and 2017.

At PeaceGeeks, we are honoured to bring individuals, groups, and the community together to engage in meaningful dialogue surrounding contemporary international issues that are often much closer to home than we think them to be. We partnered with UNHCR Canada in September to present a PeaceTalk on media and refugee narratives. In October, we reached a milestone 40 PeaceTalks to date, with a PeaceTalk delving into the impacts of threats to independent journalism in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as it faced a historic election in December. But threats to independent journalism, corrupted elections, and increasing socio-political polarization are occuring far closer to home too. That’s why we host PeaceTalks: to spark local conversations about issues that span borders, and seek solutions together.

In the first half of 2019, we will be partnering with Digital Justice Labs to host further PeaceTalks in Vancouver focusing on the increasing importance of data privacy, and the intersection between human rights and digital security.

Our 2018 PeaceTalks were made possible by partnership with Simon Fraser University, British Consulate-General of Vancouver, Amnesty International, UNHCR Canada, Bunia Actualité, and African Students' Association. Over 340 people in total registered to attend the talks.

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Programs & Project Highlights

🇯🇴
Jordan

Amplifying voices for peace

Digital tools, social media, gaming, bots, videos, and misinformation play an increasingly prominent role in inciting and escalating social divides and violence.

PeaceGeeks collaborates with citizens and civil society organizations to amplify constructive dialogue and digital content that strengthens social cohesion and community resilience. We convene and facilitate creative and locally-relevant community action, particularly among youth and women, to prevent the continued escalation of online hate, violence, extremism, and polarization.

Funded by
Project Highlight:

Meshkat Community

Since mid-2017, Meshkat Community has amplified voices for peace to combat online hate and extremism in Jordan. The program aims to strengthen social cohesion and foster constructive dialogue by building the skills, networks, and knowledge of citizens - with a particular focus on youth, women, and ethnic minorities. Our mission is to increase creative and peaceful citizen engagement to challenge hate, violence, and extremism in online spaces.

Through workshops, incubation programs, and online platforms, community members learn to use the power of locally-created content — cartoons, drawings, murals, music, audio, films, performing arts, theatre performances, blogs, poetry, scripts, prose, case studies, social media posts, and online campaigns — to spark conversation on how to build a more peaceful and inclusive world.

Meshkat runs a series of programs including Content Development, Digital Engagement, and Community Capacity Building. These programs concurrently operate a myriad of activities, including production of a YouTube series, creating and supporting a Digital Peace Youth Network, an Artists-in-Residence initiative, a competition called the Peace Awards, maintaining a website and social media accounts that disseminate peace-focused content, facilitating capacity-building and community resilience workshops, and convening and supporting collaborative efforts of local civil society organizations.

Through 2019, we will be exploring which aspects of the multifaceted program are most beneficial and useful to at-risk groups in Jordan, so that we can ensure we are serving community needs to the best of our capacity, and engaging with local citizens and civil society in a fruitful way. The Meshkat program is funded by Global Affairs Canada through 2021. In 2019, we are exploring how to extend Meshkat’s duration in Jordan.

Learn More
  • The workshops I attended with Meshkat Community gave me an opportunity to understand different perspectives and gain better awareness of collective opinions on the social challenges we face. Meshkat helped me to become more involved in and to help build a network of people and institutions with the same passions and interest in tolerance and acceptance of others.

    Bushra Abbas
    Bushra Abbas Meshkat Community Artist-in-Residence
  • PeaceTalks are a phenomenal way to engage publicly with salient and immediate issues affecting the lives of people globally while considering tangible options for changemakers. In fact, Global Affairs-funded Meshkat Community--a creative and locally-significant projects addressing conflict and intolerance in Jordan--all started with a single PeaceTalk! By unpacking the intricacies of challenges facing peace in the world, these talks bring together expert opinion with the spirit of collaborative action using the most innovative and sustainable means.

    Dr. Adel Iskandar
    Dr. Adel Iskandar Assistant Professor, Simon Fraser University
  • People go to new places and lose everything they have had in their previous places. People get really puzzled, very frustrated, and distressed. Now I think this tool, Arrival Advisor, will solve most of the problems for newcomers.

    Petros Faltamo
    Petros Faltamo Newcomer to British Columbia
  • I think Arrival Advisor is really important because the sooner we can get information in people’s hands to help them navigate their new community and their new life in Canada, the more likely they are to be successful.

    Patrick MacKenzie
    Patrick MacKenzie CEO, Immigrant Employment Council of BC

Donors, sponsors & partners

Partners for peace

Our projects would not be possible without these supporters.

Major Funding Partners

Google.org Impact Chalenge LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact Global Affairs Canada Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Jobs, Trade, and Technology

Signature Donor

Key & Project Partners

Arrival Advisor Partners

Meshkat Community Local Partners

Meshkat Community Wajah Alliance Partners

Community Sponsors, Donors and Partners

Financials

Our efficiency

Funding by year

Source of funding

Lean & Efficient

Thank you!

PeaceGeeks would not be possible without our incredible partners, donors and supporters. Stay engaged by following us on social media, or consider making a gift to fuel our mission to advance peace and humanitarian action.