The Kinsmen Foundation Past & Present


The Kinsmen Foundation of BC has been a ‘leader’ in the support of people with severe physical disabilities for over 60 years. As we look forward to our future, we pause to review our past:



Kinsmen & Kinette Clubs assist the Red Cross in providing short-term loans of basic medical equipment. Kinsmen Club of Vancouver purchases and donates the land to Dr. Strong to provide the site for the future G. F. Strong Regional Rehabilitation Centre. First Office of BC Polio Fund opened at Hornby & Smithe and Bruce Grey, Kinsmen from West Vancouver Kinsmen Club is first President of the Kinsmen Foundation.



In response to the Polio Epidemic service clubs (Kinsmen) raised funds for iron lungs and other equipment in BC – In 1952 BC Polio Fund officially incorporated as a Foundation-forerunner to the Kinsmen Rehabilitation Foundation of BC Also in 1952 the Kinsmen officially endowed a Chair in Neurological Research at UBC and provided the funding for the Kinsmen Tower. In 1955 the Foundation changed its mandate from finding a cure for polio to rehabilitation for the support of those who were afflicted with Polio. On the May long-weekend in 1968, the Kinsmen and Kinettes of District Five resolved to make the Foundation it’s District Project, and the name Mother’s March was changed to Kinsmen’s Mother’s March. At this time, the President of the Foundation was also added to the District Council as an member of the District Board.



More funding for equipment is necessary for survivors of polio and other disabilities. Service organizations like Kinsmen provide funding to disability groups, governments, hospitals, George Pearson Centre and G. F. Strong Regional Rehabilitation Centre.

In 1973 the Kinsmen Rehabilitation Foundation moved to its new office and building on West 12th Avenue in Vancouver. In 1973, the world’s first electronic device was given to Mrs. Jo Kelly, and in 1975 the Kinsmen Rehab Foundation won the very prestigious Canadian Readers Digest Award for work with people with disabilities. In that year the Foundation also ran the ‘first ever’ province-wide lottery, known as the KIN/Win Lottery. It was also in this time period that the Foundation introduced the very popular “Kids on the Block” education puppet program through all of the schools in BC. The Foundation was also involved in providing funding for a special room at Ronald McDonald House and was one of the main supporters for the Noble House Project. An accessible residence to provide independence and a better quality of life for disabled adults.

The need for all types of Assistive Device equipment became more widespread and apparent. More service organizations helped the Kinsmen to raise funds independently for people with disabilities. New programs were being developed recognizing the need for more expertise and consumer information including:
• Technology for Independent Living (TIL) – Kinsmen Foundation Providing environmental controls and communication devices
• Disabled Living Resource Centre – Kinsmen Foundation Offices – technical aids equipment information and displays
• I Can Talk Too Program – Funding assistance from Kinsmen to Sunnyhill Hospital providing communication aids for children
• Computer Comfort Program – Funding from Kinsmen provided to Neil Squire Foundation.
• Other Organizations — The Kinsmen Foundation provided funding and assistance to such organizations as Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), Muscular Dystrophy (MD), BC Paraplegic Association, BC Lions Society for Children with Disabilities, Spina Bifida, Red Cross, Cerebral Palsy Association of BC, CKNW Orphan’s Fund just to name a few.


The Red Cross responds to a Ministry of Health request to develop a proposal for an equipment loan program for clients living in care facilities. The Ministry declines to fund the project. The Kinsmen Foundation provides early equipment to help Red Cross start up the program. The Kinsmen Foundation was actively involved with a number of organizations working on advocating for people with disabilities. At this time there were a number of reports completed, that were never acted upon by government. Reports like the Blair Richardson Report identifying the need for the Health Ministry to be involved in provisions to chronically disabled or chronically ill adults and children. This report was shelved without any recommendations acted upon. Or the Community Care Consultation and Mandate Review Project. Finally in 1989 following the Assistive Devices Task Force Report that focused on communication aids and computers and delivered by TAIGRE (Technical Aids Interest Group in Rehab and Education) made some headway and SETBC (Special Education Technology BC) was established with support from the Kinsmen Foundation, and government finally agreed to support the programs.


Technology for Independent Living Program (TIL) now funded by Ministries of Health and Human Resources and the Kinsmen Foundation transferred the program to the management of the BC Paraplegic Association, and ultimately to the BC Coalition for People With Disabilities, where it currently resides, and continues to be supported in a big way by the Kinsmen Foundation of BC.


Continuing Care funds the Aids to Independent Living Program at the Kinsmen Rehabilitation Foundation of BC. The program provides long term loans to low income seniors in the Lower Mainland Region of BC.


The Aids to Independent Living Program transfers from the Kinsmen Foundation to the Red Cross. The Kinsmen Foundation ceases to provide long term equipment loans to British Columbians.


Establishment of the first comprehensive community based home ventilator program at Technology for Independent Living (TIL) and the PROP (Provincial Respiratory Outreach Program) funded by Ministry of Health Services, and supported by Kinsmen.


Provincial Equipment and Assistive Devices Committee (PEADC) established, with Kinsmen Foundation as a participating partner.


Establishment of the BC Personal Supports Council and Personal Supports Network. Also establishment of the Equipment Assistive Technology Initiative (EATI) Program with Super Navigators providing the kind of information and assistance to help those most in need of support these programs were supported by the Kinsmen Foundation.