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The Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) was founded in 1987 and aims to end Canada’s HIV epidemic by leading national strategies to increase prevention, testing, treatment and linkage to care, and to end HIV stigma.
Over the past three and a half decades, CANFAR has invested more than $24 million in close to 500 grants to HIV/AIDS research projects that have led to tremendous breakthroughs in HIV prevention, testing, access to treatment, stigma, and the search for a cure. In addition, CANFAR annually reaches thousands of Canadian youth and educators through its national HIV youth awareness programs.
CANFAR is proud of the national role it has played in funding all areas of HIV/AIDS research. Over the past three decades, our donors have supported research that has changed the lives of those who are living with HIV. Some of these breakthroughs have included, but are not limited to: the development of preventative medications, the improvement of the quality of life for new mothers living with HIV, and discoveries of new ways for testing HIV treatments.
To learn more about CANFAR’s four areas of priority, please click here.
On October 26, 1987, CANFAR’s incorporation papers are signed, and the Canadian Foundation for AIDS Research (CANFAR) is officially established.
Food for Thought
CANFAR holds the first Food for Thought gala dinner and raises $150,000. The CANFAR Board of Directors is formed and CANFAR hires its first paid employee.
The first World AIDS Day
In 1988, the very first World AIDS Day was held. To this day, World AIDS Day marks an annual day of solidarity and recognition of the global impact of HIV/AIDS.
Bluma Appel elected CANFAR Chair and the Scientific Advisory Committee launches.
In 1989, Bluma Appel was elected as CANFAR’s Chair of the Board, and the Scientific Advisory Committee was launched. With the launch of the Scientific Advisory Committee, CANFAR began awarding grants to support HIV/AIDS research projects across Canada.
CANFAR’s Junior Committee and the first Eight Ball
Leeanne Weld and a group of eight friends, all in their early twenties, formed the CANFAR Junior Committee. This committee raised funds and awareness for AIDS research among younger age groups, with their black-tie event, Eight Ball. Over the next eleven years, the Eight Ball event raised over $800,000 for CANFAR.
First Canadian Industry Award Granted and Red Ribbon Campaign is launched.
CANFAR grants first Canadian Industry Award in the amount of $100,000. Red Ribbon Campaign is created to raise awareness on World AIDS Day in support of HIV/AIDS research.
New CANFAR Board Members and the beginnings of the Have a Heart Campaign.
Andrew Pringle, CM, and Christopher Bunting, former President, first join CANFAR as board members.
A rock concert, is hosted at Northern Secondary School in Toronto. This would go on to become the Have a Heart for CANFAR Campaign.
Breakthrough research findings through CANFAR funding.
CANFAR-funded researcher, the late Dr. Mark Wainberg contributed to the development of 3TC, a drug being used to treat HIV.
CANFAR’s first AIDSbeat event.
The first AIDSbeat battle-of-the-bands fundraiser was launched. Founded by CANFAR Vice Chair of the Board and Secretary, Patricia Olasker (Partner at Davies Ward Phillip & Vineberg LLP), this unique event was notable for bringing together Toronto’s legal community to raise money for HIV/AIDS research. For its inaugural year, AIDSbeat managed to raise $20,000.
The first Issue of the CATALYST Newsletter.
CANFAR published its first Catalyst newsletter. It celebrated that in this year, HIV/AIDS research to date had doubled the life expectancy of HIV-infected people.
CANFAR launches Have a Heart campaign.
CANFAR launched the Have a Heart campaign, which became a national awareness program that reached millions of youth across Canada and ran for 16 years. Eventually, the program transitioned to Kisses 4 CANFAR. Today, CANFAR’s national youth awareness program is known as One and All.
Have a Heart Campaign and Food for Thought are reinvented.
Have a Heart Campaign becomes bilingual, launching Ayez du Coeur. Food for Thought gala is reinvented as the award-winning Bloor Street Entertains.
Volunteer Awards commence.
In 1998, CANFAR held its first Volunteer Recognition Awards.
(Photo: Andrew Pringle, CM, (left) and Nada Ristich, Director of Corporate Donations, BMO (right).
A milestone year for awarding research grants.
In 2002, CANFAR funded a record high of $2.1 million in research grants. This marked a major milestone for the Foundation.
The first CANFAR Campus Club is founded.
The first CANFAR Campus Club launches at McGill University by Catherine Pringle, daughter of CANFAR Board Chair Andrew Pringle and CANFAR National Spokesperson, Valerie Pringle.
The Spring for Life Campaign launch.
On March 21, 2003, stores, cinemas, restaurants, florists, spas, and hotels in both Toronto and Winnipeg donated a portion of their sales to CANFAR. This marked the beginning of the Spring for Life Campaign.
CANFAR’s youth campaign reaches students in every province.
With 847 schools participating in the Have a Heart for CANFAR program, CANFAR’s youth campaign reaches students in every province.
Bloor Street Entertains celebrates a triumphant fundraising year.
In 2006, Bloor Street Entertains became the biggest and most successful to date. Over 25 chefs prepared culinary creations for over 860 dinner guests, with an additional 1,000 guests welcomed for the After Party. More than $500,000 was raised that year.
CANFAR co-hosts the opening of the International AIDS Conference in Toronto.
CANFAR co-hosts the opening of the International AIDS Conference in Toronto. Scientific Advisory Co-chair, the late Dr. Mark Wainberg, made headlines for admonishing Prime Minister Stephen Harper for not attending the conference.
Dr. Mark Wainberg receives France’s highest honour.
Dr. Mark Wainberg is awarded the Legion d’honneur, France’s highest honour.
CANFAR-funded researcher, Dr. Kelly MacDonald, unveils new vaccine to help prevent HIV progression.
In 2010, CANFAR-funded researcher Dr. Kelly MacDonald unveiled a new vaccine candidate that could reduce and prevent the progression of HIV. CANFAR awarded an $80,000 research grant to Dr. MacDonald and her team, to continue their work.
CANFAR’s Young Professional Council is formed.
CANFAR’s Young Professional Council is formed to raise both money and awareness within Toronto’s the young professional community.
CANFAR establishes the Legacy Fund.
In 2011, CANFAR establishes the Legacy Fund, dedicated to funding HIV research, awareness, and social programming for young gay men in Canada.
Bloor Street Entertains celebrates 15th anniversary.
In 2011, Bloor Street Entertains celebrated its 15th anniversary, proving to be the most successful year to date, by raising over $600,000 for HIV/AIDS research.
Kisses 4 CANFAR.
Kisses 4 CANFAR, CANFAR’s modernized youth campaign, nets over $90,000 and reaches over 2-million young people in its first year.
Transformational Gift Received
In 2016, a transformational gift of $1 million was generously donated to CANFAR by the Slaight Family Foundation.
CANFAR founded the National Working Group on HIV and AIDS research.
In 2017, CANFAR founded the National Working Group on HIV and AIDS research. The group is inclusive of leading HIV researchers and community leaders from across Canada.