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Vancouver’s PeaceGeeks in running for Google prize with refugee app

Vancouver based PeaceGeeks win Google Impact Challenge
WATCH UPDATE: PeaceGeeks is one of the five $750K prize winners in the Google Impact Challenge.

A Vancouver-based non-profit is vying for the top spot in Google Canada’s Impact Challenge, with an eye to use the prize money to improve the lives of immigrants and refugees in the city.

PeaceGeeks, an organization that harnesses the power of Canada’s tech sector for humanitarian causes worldwide, is one of ten groups in the national competition.

If they win, the plan is to create a new app called Pathways, a spin-off of Services Advisor, their current app being used by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Jordan, Turkey and Somalia.

Peacegeeks executive director Renee Black says Pathways would help newcomers plan their journey even before they arrive in Canada.

“This is also a tool that can also help resettlement workers to do their work a little bit more and to help people visualize what their pathway is,” Black says.

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WATCH: A new made-in-B.C. app hopes to connect new arrivals to this country with the services they need. Nadia Stewart explain how the project by the PeaceGeeks could also be recognized by Google.

New app helps immigrants find services
New app helps immigrants find services

The money would also be used to develop new initiatives — including language training that would begin once newcomers know Canada will be their new home.

“If I know I’m coming to Canada in three months and I can connect with somebody via Skype to do conversational English before I get here, wouldn’t that be helpful in trying to get somebody up and running before they arrive?” Black says.

The UNHCR estimates there are over 65 million refugees worldwide. In B.C., it’s expected 40,000 immigrants and refugees will arrive this year.

Two other organizations in the province are competing in the challenge: The Victoria Hand Project and one to better assist doctors in diagnosing Pneumonia in children.