IRIS aims to understand the health experiences of immigrants and migrants (im/migrants) in British Columbia. We hope to generate recommendations for policies, programs, and practices that improve health, well-being and access to health services in BC for people who are im/migrants. The IRIS Project uses a research design that combines interviews with im/migrant community members and quantitative data from health and immigration administration to focus on two research areas: sexual and reproductive health services, and COVID-related testing and primary care.

Community engagement is the backbone of the IRIS Project, where we build and sustain ongoing relationships with im/migrant community members (including most of our research team members) and community-based organizations working with im/migrant communities. This includes people who come from different countries, speak multiple languages (like English, Farsi, Spanish, and Tigrinya), and have different immigration journeys, such as people with precarious im/migration status, refugees, workers and students. The IRIS Project was developed in response to serious concerns about barriers to health access and struggles within the Canadian health care system, and the need for responses in health research, service delivery, and policy that meaningfully address their needs. The IRIS research team collaborates with im/migrant communities to develop findings we hope will inform policies and programmes to better address the health needs and rights of im/migrants.

Research Objectives

IRIS aims to describe and analyze the individual, social, structural, and immigration-specific factors shaping im/migrants’ access to health services over the course of arrival and making a life in British Columbia.

About IRIS


Trainees & Staff: Cecilia Sierra Heredia, Elmira Tayyar, Eloina Alberto, Maggie Hammel-Smith Grassby, Padmini Thakore, Refugio Reyes, Ruth Carrillo, Samira Karsiem, Sandra Peterson, Selamawit Hagos, Stefanie Machado

Co-Principal Investigators: Dr. Shira Goldenberg, Dr. Ruth Lavergne, Dr. Mei-Ling Wiedmeyer

Co-Investigators & collaborators: Dr. Andrea Krusi, Dr. Germaine Tuyisenge, Dr. Kate Shannon, Dr. Mark Gilbert, Dr. Susitha Wanigaratne, Dr. Rolando Barrios

We are extremely grateful to the IRIS study participants and community partners for their time, trust, courage, and valuable contributions to this research, as well as our study staff for their expertise. Some of our former team members are not listed above, but their efforts, knowledge, and contributions have fundamentally shaped our work and findings, and we thank them for the time they spent with us.


Healthiest Babies Possible, MAP, MOSAIC Youth Services, Pacific Immigrant Resources Society, SUCCESS, Umbrella Multicultural Health Co-Op


Migrant Rights Network, MOSAIC, Sanctuary Health, Watari


Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR), Michael Smith Health Research BC , Vancouver Foundation, Simon Fraser University