History of PICS

Let’s go down memory lane to remember some of the important milestones in PICS journey. Mr. Charan Gill, Founder and Founding CEO of PICS Society (1987-2017).

Important Milestones

Society is Incorporated.
Envisioned by community worker Mr. Charan Gill, PICS was incorporated in 1987 by eight individuals who contributed $10.00 each. Born from the farm worker activist movement, spearheaded at the time by organizations such as Canadian Farmworker’s Union, BC Organization to Fight Racism and Deol Agricultural Society, the Society was initially named Progressive Indo-Canadian Community Services. As time progressed and the need to serve a broad spectrum of people, mainly new immigrants grew, Progressive Indo-Canadian Community Services took on a new name Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) to reflect the people it served and programs it delivered.

PICS has since inception been at the forefront of social justice causes. The mission and vision have always been to promote harmony and intercultural understanding so that a healthy and just society is built. And therefore, working towards this objective PICS has always striven to identify gaps that existed and accordingly conceived and devised programs to serve people. PICS core programs and services, namely the Settlement and Employment Programs were launched in the early 90s, and have helped thousands of clients across Metro Vancouver.

Homebound Women’s Program starts. This was a fantastic program for women focusing on English Language Instruction and also offered workshops on human rights issues, domestic violence and labour laws.

PICS hosts a conference commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Komagata Maru. The conference brought together human rights leaders, academics, activists and political leaders who for the very first time reflected on Canada’s racist past.
edit button to change this text.

PICS buys an office. PICS purchases its own building in Surrey on 124th street and 80th Avenue. Mohinder Kang (Board of Director) and Charan Gill used their homes as collateral in order to secure the mortgage. This building housed Canadian Farmworkers Union, Deol Agricultural Society and Rainbow Community Health Cooperative for almost two decades.

Legal Advocacy program starts to help farmworkers. PICS received funding to develop handbooks for farmworkers. These books were especially designed to help farmworkers keep records of their employee hours and contained important information and contact numbers in case of legal disputes. By the time the funding ended in 2012 these handbooks had been developed in several languages including Punjabi, Spanish and Chinese.

PICS starts it’s very first Job Search program. This was the beginning of PICS’s robust employment programs which have since grown into a number of successful programs.

PICS receives its first major funding to start the all-important English Language Services called LINK. Spectrum of Settlement services were also broadened and quickly became hugely popular with new immigrants.

Rainbow Health Cooperative Program begins. There was a huge need for a program offering primary health care, family counselling, drug and alcohol counselling, emergency dental clinic, dental clinic for seniors, annual health fairs and many more services.
PICS opens an office Vancouver and begins offering Employment Assistance Services in the office.

PICS brings traditional North Indian festival of Teeyan to the community by organizing this festival on a large scale for women. For the first time, women took leadership in organizing a festival of this nature and on such a big platform. This also proved to be a great way for them to interact and share stories.
PICS was recipient of the Cultural Diversity Award for Business.

2002 & 2007                                                                                                                                                                                                                             

Guru Nanak Niwas Seniors Housing and Assisted Living – PICS opens it’s first Independent Seniors Housing facility in 2002 followed by the first ever culturally sensitive Assisted living facility for seniors in Surrey in 2007. Both these housing units are extremely popular and house seniors from as many as 17 different cultures. PICS Assisted Living facility meets the needs of all residents by providing them with culturally appropriate services.

PICS becomes the first Community organization with whom the Canadian Armed Forces partners to open their recruiting office within PICS. This initiative went a long way in raising awareness about Canadian Armed Forces in the local community here in Surrey.

PICS starts a Colony Farm as part of a Sustainable Agriculture Training Centre (SATC) which aimed to provide organic farming training to farm workers, future farmers and the general population.

PICS hosts its first ever Annual Mega Job Fair from its former Head office on 124th street and 80th Avenue in Surrey. It has grown into one of the largest job fairs in the Lower Mainland, with over 100 Exhibitors – it attracts over 4,000 attendees from all walks of life. A wonderful networking and marketing initiative, BC Small Business Expo, was added to the Mega Job Fair as all businesses are vital to our communities and are the backbone of a healthy economy.

Popular Indo-Canadian artist, Jarnail Singh, completed a large outdoor mural measuring 16 ft x 18 ft and covering two levels of the six-storey PICS seniors housing facility in Surrey. The mural depicts the infamous incident of 1914 when 376 Indian emigrants aboard the ship Komagata Maru were barred entry despite having valid passports.

PICS celebrates its 20th anniversary. PICS has been in service for 20 years, helping new immigrants settle their new lives in Canada.

PICS moves again! Since PICS had grown considerably since 1987, offices on 124th street and 80th Avenue were not enough to house the growing staff. PICS therefore bought brand new offices on 127th street and 80th avenue in Surrey. This is where PICS Head Office is currently located.

PICS was a finalist in the not-for-profit category for the 14th Annual Cultural DIVERSEcity awards for business, sponsored by the Community Resources Society.

Certificate of Recognition & Appreciation was presented to PICS by UBC, Punjabi Diabetes Health Forum (iCON – Intercultural Online Health Network).

PICS was recognized by the United Way of the Lower Mainland (UWLM) for 10 Years of Excellence.

PICS Society starts PACE College to support clients in getting training.

PICS opens Harmony House. Understanding the need that existed in our community to help women fleeing domestic violence, PICS successfully lobbied and received grants to open a 2nd stage transition home for women called Harmony House. Sadly, but truly Harmony House since its inception has always been full. It can accommodate 10 people including kids. PICS Harmony House was the recipient of The Surrey Homelessness & Housing Society’s annual grants.

Province of BC, Certificate of Congratulations presented to PICS (Finalist) Not-for-profit (over $500,000) 14th Annual Surrey Business Excellence Awards.

PICS celebrates its 25th Anniversary.

PICS becomes subcontractor for WorkBC services in several Employment Service Centres (ESCs) in Surrey, Delta, White Rock, and Vancouver.

Certificate of Appreciation, presented to PICS from the Province of BC (2001-2013)


PICS receives a three-year accreditation from Commission of Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

PICS is a recipient of Disability Alliance BC’s (DABC) annual Outstanding Employer of the Year Award.

AMSSA’s Service Recognition Volunteer Award is presented to PICS President of the Board, Resham (Paul) Dosanjh.

The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities BCCPD selected PICS as its Honorary Mention winner, BCCPD’s Inaugural Outstanding Employer of the Year Awards.

PICS starts working towards building PICS Diversity Village, a revolutionary senior care community providing urgently needed long-term care for seniors from all walks of life. Based on the latest state-of-the-art model of care, this facility will deliver customized services for each patient, respecting their culture and lifestyle and giving them a home away from home. Down payment is made for two cares of land in Cloverdale.

PICS is recipient of the BC Multicultural Awards under Organization Award Category.

PICS received a Certificate of Appreciation from the University of Victoria in Support of Self-Management Programs.

PICS Assisted Living facility in Surrey scored an overall satisfaction rate of 89.6%, the highest rate of satisfaction among all 32 facilities surveyed by Fraser Health Authority.

The City of Surrey asked PICS to purchase an adjacent property to have alternate access to our proposed facility from 175A Street.

Certificate of Appreciation was presented to PICS for Community Volunteer Income Tax Program (2017, 2018, 2019).

Certificate of Appreciation was presented to PICS in support of AAJ Magazine’s Canada 150 Tour.

The two acres land was purchased with a mortgage from Vancity.

PICS Founding CEO, Charan Gill retires after 30 years of service and Satbir Cheema becomes the new CEO of PICS Society.

PICS shuts down PACE College.

PICS celebrates its 30th anniversary.

PICS opens its Surrey Annex office at #1 – 12743, 80th Avenue next door to its Head Office.

PICS is awarded a Certificate of Recognition for the Untapped BC Workplace Inclusion Awards – Workplace Diversity & Inclusion Champion: Social Enterprise and Non-Profit.

PICS opens a fully licensed Day Care Centre located on 6050 – 176 on Cloverdale Rodeo Grounds.

PICS Head Office location achieved Accessibility Certification from the Rick Hansen Foundation (RHF).

PICS received a certificate of Thanks for supporting First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition for helping put children and youth first in BC (2018, 2019).

PICS received the 2019 Inclusive Employer Award in the Not-for-Profits category at the 5th Annual Inclusive Employer Awards organized by the Rotary Club of Surrey.

PICS Assisted Living facility was again declared #1 facility in all of BC by Fraser Health Authority for the overall Quality of Service and Satisfaction level.

A Recognition Plaque was presented to PICS for supporting professional development by providing practicum opportunities to students from Sprott Shaw College.

PICS Society hosted its very first Walk For A Drug and Gang Free Surrey at Surrey City Hall to help create awareness about the rise of gang violence and drug abuse in Surrey and the importance of providing programs, services and support systems to tackle this problem.

Canadian Eyesight Global Organization presented PICS with a Certificate of Appreciation in support of their 30th Anniversary celebration.

PICS Diversity Village project is approved by the Provincial Government. The total approved budget for the project is $58.27 million with BC Housing providing $53.27 million and PICS required to fundraise the remaining $5 million as the community’s contribution to the project.

PICS Board unanimously passed a special resolution to name the facility as “Guru Nanak Diversity Village”.

PICS received The Federation of Community Social Services of BC (FCSSBC) Award of Excellence.

PICS organizes its first Virtual Mega Job Fair.

PICS receives $100,000 worth of daily use items from IKEA for distribution to needy persons.

PICS opens it’s new office at #203, 12899 – 80 Avenue in Surrey to run its PBLMT Immigrant Greenhouse Production Technician Social Innovation Project.

A new office is opened in Victoria at 1564 Fort Street, Victoria for the Foreign Credential Recognition (FCR) Program.