Annual Report

PeaceGeeks:
2019 Report to the Community

Our mission

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

In September, we launched a seven-language version of the Arrival Advisor app in British Columbia, Canada. Arrival Advisor is a free directory of relevant immigration, refugee, and community services to bridge knowledge barriers and ease newcomers’ settlement journey. In Jordan, our Meshkat Community project continues to shine a light on youth, women, and creative content creators to amplify their voices for peace and tolerance. In 2019, PeaceGeeks staff also travelled to Nova Scotia, Ottawa, California, New York, Washington, Spain, and Germany to learn from international peacebuilding peers, and share our knowledge.

2020 will be a transformative year for PeaceGeeks. As we welcome new leadership, transition key projects, and create a new three-year strategic plan, we look forward to the coming months with a continued passion for strengthening peace in local communities in Canada and across the globe.

Top 3 Finalist

2019 Vancouver User Experience Awards - UX for Good

5,450

Downloads of Arrival Advisor

51

Arrival Advisor Community Outreach Activities

855

Meshkat Workshop Participants in Jordan

A joint message from our Founder & Executive Director, Renee Black, and the Chairman of the Board of Directors, Simon Canning

2019 was PeaceGeeks’ most successful and defining year yet. As we approach 10 years in the peace and technology sector, we are taking the opportunity to reflect on our growth and accomplishments to date and look ahead to the future of the organization.

In March 2019, with generous support from the Province of British Columbia and the Google.org Impact Challenge Canada, we launched Arrival Advisor, our free, multilingual mobile app for newcomers to British Columbia. Arrival Advisor offers immigrants and refugees relevant, timely information about the various services they’ll need to access as they navigate their settlement journey in Canada.

In November 2019, we screened one of our forthcoming original shorts at the Sochi International Film Festival and received a Special Mention prize. Written and produced by Meshkat Community, our flagship PeaceGeeks Jordan project, The Box miniseries dives deep into issues that lie at the intersection of technology and contemporary Arab society: how they can impact our self-awareness, our relationships, and the communities around us. The full Arabic-language miniseries launched in Spring 2020 and is accessible to everyone for free on YouTube.

These are just two highlights that cap an incredible year at PeaceGeeks. As you read through the rest of the Annual Report, you will learn about the myriad ways in which our staff are fiercely committed to building and leveraging digital tools to empower communities in the pursuit of peace. We have also strengthened our internal processes to best support our organization’s growth and development, including introducing a new Human Resources policy, revising our financial structures,and preparing to roll out a new strategic plan to carry us through the next several years.

As we look at taking the organization through the next decade, we are excited to announce another definitive moment for the PeaceGeeks family. Our Founder and Executive Director, Renee, has decided to step down in Spring 2020.

After an extensive search, we are thrilled to welcome our new Chief Executive Officer, Jennifer Freeman. Jennifer comes back to Canada with over 15 years experience in conflict zones, refugee settlements, nonprofits and at universities, learning from and with peace leaders from over 55 countries. She has been at the forefront of re-energizing and restructuring organizations, developing strategic initiatives and public-private partnerships that bring technology to enhance the safety, security and agency of peacebuilders around the world. Our comprehensive succession plan will ensure a seamless transition from Renee to Jennifer. We are very confident that Jennifer will lead us through our next phase of empowering communities in the pursuit of peace.

On behalf of the board of directors, I want to thank Renee for her perseverance and tireless work ethic. Renee inspired local action that solved local challenges, facilitated access to information, advanced the rights of women, immigrants, refugees and communities everywhere. As well, her ability to build a strong, diverse team who live and breathe PeaceGeeks’ values of compassion and collaboration are the foundations that Jennifer has to work with.

Finally, we want to extend a heartfelt thank you to our generous donors and supporters, our passionate corps of volunteers, and our numerous community partners in Canada, Jordan, the Middle East, and across the globe.

We simply could not do what we do without every one of you.

Sincerely,

Renee Black

Renee Black

Executive Director and Founder
Simon Canning

Simon Canning

Chairman of the Board of Directors

What we do

Supporting settlement in Canada

Project Highlight:

Arrival Advisor British Columbia

This past March, we launched the beta version of Arrival Advisor across British Columbia. Arrival Advisor is a free mobile application designed specifically for newcomers to Canada that offers them a comprehensive directory of services to help ease their settlement journey.

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

PeaceGeeks presents Arrival Advisor at the Newcomer Expo

Arrival Advisor has already been downloaded nearly 5,600 times by immigrants and refugees living in BC. The app helps guide them to register for healthcare, enroll in English courses or further education, learn about tenant’s rights and immigration procedures, sign their children up in school, and much more. The full version launched in September in seven languages including the original English, French, and Arabic, as well as Chinese (Traditional and Simplified), Tagalog, Punjabi, and Korean. Completely anonymous, Arrival Advisor’s information is saved to a user’s phone allowing them to use it offline, and syncs with maps to help users navigate to services. Users can fill out a short questionnaire about their circumstances to streamline the information available on the app and then bookmark their most relevant topics. As part of our commitment to data privacy and security, users do not need to provide personal information or create a profile to use the app.

Arrival Advisor finalist of Vancouver User Experience Awards 2019

Arrival Advisor was also a top 3 finalist for the 2019 Vancouver User Experience Awards in the UX for Good category. We are currently working on improving functionality and implementing new, user-requested features with the app. 2020 will be another great year for Arrival Advisor.

Learn More
Funded by
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
Arrival Advisor Launch Party
Project Highlight:

MentorApp

In 2019, we also began working on our MentorApp Project which seeks to understand and help address employment barriers faced by newcomers in British Columbia.

Snapp (Skilled Newcomers and Professionals Partnership) is a co-created digital platform that strengthens newcomers’ access to relevant mentors and helps newcomers participate in the local labour force at a skills-appropriate level.

MentorApp PeaceGeeks Partner Organizations
MentorApp Design Process

At every stage of the project, we are working in close partnership with settlement sector stakeholders to develop a digital tool that benefits frontline service providers and newcomers alike. We are now in the middle of our design, development, and testing stage and will be piloting the first version of Snapp through the summer of 2020.

Learn More
Funded by
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
PeaceGeeks Arrival Advisor
Project Highlight:

Settlement 2.0

We are entering the final stages of the Settlement 2.0 research project. Over the last 15 months, this project has explored the enabling conditions necessary to establish more innovative and collaborative practices within the settlement sector to support settlement workers, service providers and newcomers. Settlement 2.0 began with a Canada-wide situational analysis to assess the current state of the sector.

PeaceGeeks' Settlement 2.0 Workshop Facilitated by Simon Fraser University Public Square
PeaceGeeks' Settlement 2.0 Report Cover

In phase 2, we partnered with SFU Public Square to conduct a series of community consultations across BC’s Lower Mainland to spark dialogue about current innovations and collaborative models taking place. These two phases formed the basis of a series of peer-reviewed, actionable recommendations that were delivered to the federal government in March 2020 to develop a vision and action plan for exploring how technology and innovation can best facilitate settlement outcomes for supporting newcomers.

Learn More
Funded by
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada

One of the highlights of our year was a visit from the Honourable Ahmed Hussen in April, who at that time served as the Cabinet Minister for Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship. Minister Hussen toured our Vancouver office, spoke with our team about our settlement projects and the power of technology, and met with members of our Newcomer Advisory Board.

“The best thing about Arrival Advisor is you don’t need to go somewhere to access more information—all the information you need is here at your fingertips. It's helpful and resourceful for people who have been here for two to three months, two to three years, or even before you arrive in Canada.”

Munifa
Munifa Newcomer to BC

What we do

Shining a light on peace and technology in Jordan

Project Highlight:

Meshkat Community

In Amman, Jordan, our team entered its third year of programming on the Meshkat Community Project. Meshkat is an Arabic word for the alcove in the wall where lanterns are traditionally placed to safely illuminate homes. Our project creates space for youth, women, community members, and local leaders to engage in conversations around peace, tolerance, and resilience. We focus on building peace and strengthening social cohesion through artistic mediums and within digital spaces. We have supported up and coming artists with financial grants to create content that offers narratives of peace, love, tolerance, and diversity; hosted authors on our Arabic-language website; and run social media campaigns to bring awareness to bullying, violence against women, and days of peace.

PeaceGeeks Meshkat Community Wahaj Alliance
PeaceGeeks Meshkat Community Wahaj Alliance

One of our flagship Meshkat programs is the Wahaj Alliance. Wahaj, Arabic for “bright light,” is a coalition of eight Jordanian community-based organizations dedicated to empowering youth and women, often through creative media. Together, we align our strategic priorities and collaborate on facilitating workshops and training sessions for community members to learn more about local challenges and work together to problem-solve. By working together, the Wahaj Alliance can better engage with the community on a deeper level to affect sustainable, positive change from the ground up.

PeaceGeeks Meshkat Community Digital Youth Network Participant
PeaceGeeks Meshkat Community Digital Youth Network
PeaceGeeks Meshkat Community Digital Youth Network

We are also incredibly proud of our youth cohort, who participate in the Digital Youth Network. They learn, share, create, and engage with their networks, producing new ideas to promote peace and positive youth action in the Jordan region. Our youth attend workshops where they learn practical skills to increase their digital literacy and technical knowledge, and learn how to engage in proactive dialogue about local social challenges. By supporting youth participation in their communities in positive and proactive ways today, we’re fostering a more peaceful and active society for tomorrow.

Throughout 2019, Meshkat Community partnered with the Jordanian film community to produce an original miniseries that launched on YouTube in the spring of 2020. The five episodes address issues that lie at the intersection of technology and peace, encouraging conversations about social and cultural challenges that have impacts on not only Jordanian communities but also many Arab societies. We screened an episode at the Sochi International Film Festival in December and were thrilled to receive a special mention prize in the Short Film category.

Samaa, Meshkat Peace Awards Winner

We started the Meshkat Community project in Jordan in 2017, when ISIS was at the height of its power in the Middle East North Africa region leveraging digital tools and platforms to radicalize and recruit Jordanian youth. We wanted to create a space for communities at risk of violent extremism in Jordan to come together and build peace using digital tools for good. Fortunately, ISIS is no longer an active threat, and Meshkat Community is now an established brand for digital peace in the region. We’re proud of our legacy work empowering communities to build their capacities and strengthen their resilience through the use of technology for good.

Learn More
Funded by
Global Affairs Canada
PeaceGeeks Meshkat Community Workshop

“Through Meshkat Community, I met several other creative artists and I was able to develop new ideas and transform them into tangible content. Working with Meshkat is a unique experience that allows you to develop your ideas in a unique and inspiring environment.”

Banan Zareed
Banan Zareed Artist-in-Residence

Donors, sponsors & partners

Partners for peace

Our projects would not be possible without these supporters.

Major Funding Partners

  • Google.org Impact Challenge
  • LEAP | Pecaut Centre for Social Impact
  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada
  • Province of British Columbia

Signature Donor

  • Black Family Foundation

Project Partners - Canada

  • bc211
  • Province of British Columbia, Ministry of Jobs, Trade, and Technology
  • The Affiliation of Multicultural Societies and Service Agencies
  • Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC
  • Burnaby Family Life
  • Burnaby Intercultural Planning Table
  • Immigrant Employment Council of BC
  • Immigrant Services Society of BC
  • Central Okanagan Local Immigration Partnership
  • Kiwassa
  • Little Mountain Neighbourhood House
  • MOSAIC
  • Options Community Services
  • Ottawa Community Immigrant Services Organization
  • Pacific Immigrant Resources Society
  • Réseau en Immigration Francophone de la Colombie-Britannique
  • Simon Fraser University International
  • Simon Fraser University Public Square
  • South Okanagan-Similkameen Local Immigration Partnership (SOSLIP)
  • South Vancouver Neighbourhood House
  • SUCCESS
  • Surrey Local Immigration Partnership
  • Vancouver Economic Commission
  • Vancouver Immigration Partnership
  • VAST Vancouver
  • YWCA Metro Vancouver

Project Partners - Jordan

  • Arab Women Organization
  • The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development
  • Kharabeesh
  • Liwan
  • Nawafth
  • NAYA Community Network
  • Proximity International
  • Qaf for Community Development
  • Qudorat
  • Stage for Training and Production
  • Tech Tribes
  • Vardot
  • Working Women Association

Project Partners - International

  • Community Empowerment for Progress Organization
  • International Criminal Court
  • UN Refugee Agency

Community Supporters, Donors and Partners

  • Affinity Bridge
  • Archive Digital
  • CanTrust
  • Jumpstart Refugee Talent
  • JVS Toronto
  • Left
  • McCarthy Tétrault
  • Toronto Region Immigrant Employment Council
  • Unbounce

We would especially like to extend a heartfelt thank you to our unbelievable family of dedicated and passionate volunteers. Our volunteers help facilitate everything we do, from recruitment to social media, accounting, blogging, analytics, development, event support, photography and videography and so much more. Thank you, to each and every one of our volunteers who have contributed to PeaceGeeks throughout 2019.

How we operate

Our financials

Funding by year

Source of funding

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.