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: 1. sexual and reproductive health services, and 2. 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


PIs: Dr. Shira Goldenberg, Dr. Ruth Lavergne and Dr. Mei-Ling Wiedmeyer

Key Team Members: Eloina Alberto, Stefanie MachadoElmira Tayyar

Melissa Braschel, Ruth Carrillo, Hanah Damot, Selamawit Hagos, Cecilia Sierra Heredia, Samira Karsiem,  Sandra Peterson, Refugio Reyes, Padmini Thakore, Dr. Germaine Tuyisenge


Susitha Wanigaratne


MOSAIC, Watari Counselling & Support Services Society, Sanctuary Health and Migrant Rights Network


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