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     PICS- Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society, SURREY, BC- Senior Services


NRI Vancouver PICS's new $30 million Seniors project of 125 beds under way with 24 hour emergency Services

Surrey, Vancouver, Oct. 16, 2015
Balwant Sanghera/ NRIpress-Club/Karen/Gary Singh      

Canada’s population is aging fast. Recent media reports indicate that in the next few years one out of every five Canadians will be 65 and over. As our seniors population goes up so does the need for special services. This is more so in case of housing. As a person grows older his/her housing needs also change drastically. People who were living independently in their own home environment may not be able to do so anymore because of family considerations. Also, there may be individuals who would like to maintain their independence away from their families. Then, there may be people who would benefit greatly from an assisted living situation. Thus, the need for facilities with independent living, assisted living etc. has become crucial in our communities.

In this regard, Progressive Intercultural Services Society (PICS) is way ahead of its times. This registered non-profit society serving the community since 1987 has a lot to be proud of PICS’ enthusiasm in meeting this challenge has been commendable. These efforts bore fruit in 2006 when PICS opened its 77 unit Independent Living Facility ,appropriately named Guru Nanak Niwas at 75A Avenue just north east of  120 Street (aka Scott Road)  in Surrey. This facility, built in co-operation with BC Housing Commission and South Fraser Health Region, was a major landmark. It was followed by a 49 unit Assisted Living Facility ,Day Program for seniors and the 8 bed Harmony House for battered women and their children. Currently, PICS is actively engaged in building a $30 million Multicultural Extended Seniors Care Home   with a provision for 125 beds fully equipped to care for the elderly who need personalized attention in a familiar setting. All of this has been made possible with the tireless efforts of one of PICS founders and CEO Charan Pal Gill, his dedicated Board of Directors, staff and volunteers.

     India Cultural Centre of Canada's Management visit PICS facilities

  In order to spread its message in the community, PICS management invites and encourages individuals and community groups to visit its facilities. As part of this outreach program, some members of India Cultural Centre of Canada’s Gurdwara Nanak Niwas Management Committee had an opportunity to visit these facilities. Administrator Inderjit Hundal, along with Director of Care Rajiv Mohindru and PICS Board Member Sarwan Randhawa were kind enough to give the visitors a guided tour of the facility on Thursday, October 1. The visitors were pleasantly surprised to learn about the high quality of care that the residents receive. Rajiv Mohindru mentioned that residents of these facilities are not only South Asians but also come from very diverse backgrounds representing 21 nationalities. More than 300 persons take advantage of the facilities’ Day Care Program.  

As people grow  old they need to stay even more active not only physically but also mentally and socially. This seems to be the guiding principle for everyone associated with these facilities. The facility has ample physical fitness equipment and areas to ensure that each one of its residents has an opportunity to exercise. Also, there are a number of common areas where residents get to see each other and engage in social activities. From time to time residents get to learn from health professionals who offer workshops on different physical, mental and emotional health subjects. Also, experts from other areas share their expertise .Furthermore, the residents get to go on outings to different places.

   PICS management and staff ensure that the meals provided to the residents are not only delicious but also nutritious .They make sure the food is non-processed and fresh as approved by a registered dietician. It was suggested that this facility’s 55 unionized employees prepare 75,000 meals a year. Meeting the personal, medical and social/emotional needs of the residents is always a top priority for the management and staff. The assisted living and more vulnerable/dependent residents are provided with a pendant whenever a resident needs help he/she can press the button on the pendant and a staff member will be with him/her within 15 seconds to help. The residents enjoy a stress free environment. This was quite evident by interacting with some of them. It gives them a new lease on life.

At the conclusion, guests- Mohan Singh Sandhu, Avtar Singh Sadhar, Chain Batth, Ubed Sidhu and Balwant Sanghera were joined by Charan Pal Gill,Sarwan Singh Randhawa, Inderjit Hundal,Jay Bains and Dr. Gurnam Singh Sanghera for a delicious and nutritious lunch. It was indeed a very pleasant and informational visit for all of us.


Charan Gill

Charan Gill is the founding president of Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society and for the past 23 years has been working as the CEO of the Society. Under his leadership, the Society has effectively addressed the socio-economic needs of the community at large. He has taken his many years of experience as a Social Worker and Community Activist to work on developing and implementing practical solutions to the community’s needs. For over 32 years, he has worked directly with immigrants, youth, seniors and the working poor.

PICS was established in 1987 as a one-man organization. It has now developed into amajor community organization with over 100 staff members.

Progressive Intercultural Community Services Society (PICS) stands out as one of the most prominent organizations that have been serving our community for more than 28 years. Dr. Gharib Singh Pannu, co-author of PICS Reflections printed in 2012 on the 25 th anniversary of this community service provider, captured its mission and accomplishments very well in these words: “…Over the years it (PICS) has grown by leaps and bounds, spread its wings in all directions and aspects of human activity, and in doing so touching the minds and hearts of people long established in the community as well as newcomers from so many different national, religious and cultural backgrounds.” PICS is a symbol of great pride not only for the South Asian community but also for the community at-large.  The driving force behind all of this is none other than the “Living Legend” Charan Pal Singh Gill and his team of very dedicated individuals.

This registered non-profit society serving the community since 1987 has a lot to be proud of. Its wide array of services include: Employment Programs, Settlement Services, Language Services, Social Programs, and Housing Services. All of this has made this organization as one of the most respected, multicultural and renowned organizations in the Metro Vancouver area. Its mission and vision statements are a true reflection of Canadian multiculturalism. PICS’ rise from a very humble start to a multimillion dollar organization with a large workforce is a reflection of its strong commitment to the community. Its transition from a service organization to the seniors housing market a few years ago was a big development for our community.

    PICS’ efforts in providing suitable housing for South Asian seniors was a commendable a accept a challenge. Whether it is standing up for the rights of farm workers or fighting against racism or building housing for seniors, he is there upfront leading the troops. This approach is clearly evident in PICS’ latest $30 million project already under way. This proposed Multicultural Extended Seniors Care Home will have 125 beds fully equipped to care for the elderly who need personalized attention in a setting which is familiar to them. Services offered at this Care Home will include 24 hour emergency response, social, leisure and recreational activities and assistance with daily living tasks                   

The fundraising for this ambitious project was kicked off on May, 28, 2015. This event drew more than 700 persons of diverse backgrounds as well as political and community leaders of every stripe. By the time the fundraiser was over, it raised more than $100,000. This is very rare and is a great tribute to the excellent work that PICS has been doing for the community. These facilities for seniors being spearheaded by PICS are a welcome development for the seniors. As the South Asian community has grown over the years so have the seniors numbers and needs. A large number of these seniors are looking for a place where they can spend the rest of their lives in a peaceful, friendly and inclusive environment. It is believed that the demand for these special facilities is so much that there is a long waiting list. In a sense, PICS has accepted this challenge and continues to work hard in meeting the special needs of our seniors. These initiatives, along with the multiple services provided by PICS for more than 28 years deserve our thanks and appreciation.

We offer many programs and services including language and settlement services, employment programs, housing for seniors, training, and programs for women and youth.

Charan, in his role as CEO of PICS, has also successfully established a multicultural seniors housing facility and adult day care centre. These housing projects are both innovative and unique and were a direct response to the changing familial dynamics within the Asian community.

Charan has been a tireless fighter for the farm workers for the past 30 years. He is a founding member and Secretary Treasurer of the Canadian Farm Workers Union (CFU). It was formed to address the deplorably unsafe work conditions on farms across BC. To directly combat emerging racism within BC in 1980, he established the BC Organization to Fight Racism, and prevented the KKK from moving their hatred to BC

Balwant Sanghera
(Balwant Sanghera is a retired School Psychologist and Community Activist. He is the founding member and Chairperson of South Asian Community Coalition Against Youth Violence)



Charan Gill is the founding president of Progressive Intercultural Community Services (PICS) Society.

Start with one-man organization. It has now developed into amajor community organization with over 100 staff members.