Serving Our Communities since 1970


On June 3, Nanaimo Crisis Centre was incorporated and registered as a non-profit Society. The primary mandate was to assist those experiencing problems as a result of illicit drug use and provide counselling and referrals.

As a result of the Lecane Royal Commission, the Federal Government granted $200,000 to the Crisis Centre over the next three years as a means of reaching kids living on the streets who were using illicit drugs. Motto: "No Booze, No Dope."

August: Name changed to Nanaimo Association for Intervention & Development. (NAID). Unofficial motto: "Here when you need us."

Change in focus from drugs to a wider cross section of issues. Four programs were offered youth counselling program, housing aid registry, emergency relocation service, and under the NAID umbrella, the Community Law Office.

Focus on two services: legal aid office and telephone and face-to-face counselling. Training for volunteers was 18 hours long, followed by 16 hours of phone room observations. Flying Squad of specialized volunteers received 40 hours of training.

To help cut costs due to funding cuts, a move was made to a two-room office in the community services building at 285 Prideaux Street. NAID lost the ability to serve walk-in clients.

Community Law left NAID to go on its own. NAID's focus changed to the further development of its suicide intervention prevention service. A confidential and anonymous crisis community service became the primary focus of NAID.

The first annual Nanaimo Resource Directory (a listing of community resources) was published. The centre faced constant financial challenges.

NAID changed its name to the Central Vancouver Island Crisis Society (CVICS). Programs were redesigned to include suicide prevention, intervention and  postvention.

Nanaimo experienced a percentage of suicides that was double the national number. With tightening government funding, the Society was required to raise 80% of its own funding.

Recommendations were made for the establishment of a Cowichan Crisis Line because there was no assistance available for those in crisis on a 24-hour basis. The Mental Health Community Advisory Committee in Cowichan was formed by non-profit agencies and committed private parties.

In February, the Cowichan Crisis Line was activated as a one-year pilot project. Cowichan residents could now access information and local  resources 24 hours a day. There were no long distance charges for the caller who dialled 748-1133. A cost-effective call-forwarding fixed telephone system was set up.

From April 1994 to March 1996, the Cowichan Crisis Line was funded by the Canadian Mental Health Association - Cowichan Valley Branch. Other funding derived primarily from community donations.

From April 1996 to March 2002, the Cowichan Crisis Line was funded through the Vancouver Island Providence Farm Community Association.

• SOS (Society of Organized Services) recognized the need for a District 69 Crisis Line. Community stakeholders met and formed the District 69 Crisis Line Planning Group. SOS maintained a 24-hour answering service over many years. However, without specialized training, SOS felt unable to deal with the increasing needs of callers. In August 1997, the District 69 Crisis Line began operation. Area residents could call a direct local number. However, calls were relayed to Nanaimo. There were no long-distance charges to the caller who dialled 248-3111. The call-forwarding system was set up similarly to that for the Cowichan Crisis Line.
• The Crisis Line training program was now 56 hours long, followed by 16 hours of call observations.

Crisis Society staff became Registered Trainers of LivingWorks' Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST) program and began to educate the community about the topic of suicide, as a result of a grant of $10,000 from the Vancouver Foundation.

In November, the Central Vancouver Island Crisis Society and Mental Health formed a partnership. The Crisis Line became the public access point for the Mental Health Crisis Response Team in Nanaimo.

The funding contract for Parksville and Cowichan Mental Health were combined with Nanaimo for one contract from the Vancouver Island Health Authority to provide crisis line services to the Central Vancouver Island region.

• In March, the first ever Crisis Line Awareness Week was held to raise awareness of crisis line services in the community.
• Crisis Society and Malaspina University-College entered into a training partnership.
• The Crisis Society taught practicums for Fundamentals of Clinical Psychology CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) training to two staff members.
• In July, the Crisis Society was evaluated and found to meet all criteria established for certification as an approved Crisis Intervention Centre by the American Association of Suicidology.
• In October, the Crisis Line Association of British Columbia proclaimed Crisis Line Awareness Week as a provincial initiative for the 19 crisis lines in British Columbia.
• The Central Vancouver Island Crisis Society website was launched.

• Community resources became available on line, thanks to a VIHA contract.
• In February, the Cowichan Women Against Violence Society formed a call transfer partnership with CVICS.
• A strong relationship developed with Cowichan Tribes.
• All staff members were certified as Crisis Workers through the American Association of Suicidology.
• In April, CVICS received additional VIHA funding for extended services.
• the District 69 Crisis Line and the Cowichan Crisis Line became public access for Mental Health and Addiction Crisis Services/Crisis Response Team.
• A new CVICS logo was developed.
• The Crisis Society participated in CISM (Critical Incident Stress Management) training efforts within community.

• The Crisis Society's administrative offices were relocated.
• The Community Resource Directory grew to provide individual resources for four communities and resources for all communities in Central Vancouver Island.

• Nanaimo, along with four other provincial crisis line partners, began taking calls on the 1800SUICIDE line.
• The first World Suicide Prevention Day event was held in Nanaimo on September 10. It became an annual event held on or near that date. An outcome of this event was the formation of a Suicide Bereavement Support Group in December. Monthly meetings began taking place at the Crisis Society's offices on the first Wednesday of each month.

• In February, a pilot school-based suicide prevention training program was launched.
• The first of four annual RCMP Appreciation Dinner fundraising events was held on February 17 (2007, 2008, 2009, 2011).

• The Crisis Society obtained funding for a Job Creation Project from Service Canada.
Crisis Intervention Skills Training was developed for the public in April.
• The Central Vancouver Island Crisis Society won a Sterling Community Award, presented by the Greater Nanaimo Chamber of Commerce, in the category of Health and Wellness.
• The World Suicide Prevention Day event was now known as Soles Remembering Soles. It featured a walk along the Nanaimo waterfront where participants brought shoes, later donated to charity, in memory of loved ones lost to suicide. Subsequent events were held at Nanaimo's Port Theatre.

School suicide prevention program training initiatives continued to grow within School District No. 68 (Nanaimo-Ladysmith) and No. 79 (Cowichan Valley).
• A pilot program began in April to provide services province-wide via the Mental Health and Information Line; Nanaimo began taking calls along with two other provincial crisis line partners.
• Telephone boxes are placed on Lions Gate Bridge in the Lower Mainland to facilitate access to 1-800-SUICIDE.
• Funding changes included direct access to BC Gaming funding; receipt of funding for the first time from Cowichan United Way; $20,000 received from Vancouver Foundation for school suicide prevention training (2008-2010); VIHA announcing that it had cut funding for numerous crisis lines with the intent of consolidating these lines.

• VIHA (now known as Island Health) announced that The Central Vancouver Island Crisis Society would be provide crisis line services for all of Vancouver Island.
• The CVICS began the transition of its Crisis Line services to the Vancouver Island Crisis Line in March. Staff increased from 7 to 20 personnel. Crisis line services were now offered by a hybrid of both volunteer and staff crisis line workers. Call volume increased from 15,000 to 32,000.
• After serving for four years as president of the Crisis Line Association of BC, CVICS's Executive Director became treasurer of the CLABC.

• In February, the final RCMP Appreciation Dinner was presented by the CVICS.
• The next-generation website for the Central Vancouver Island Crisis Society was launched in March.
• In August, the CVICS was re-accredited by the American Association of Suicidology for another five years.
• In September, the CVICS presented the last of its Soles Remembering Soles events at the Port Theatre in honour of World Suicide Prevention Day.
• The Vancouver Island Crisis Line's database resources became available online in December.

• In April, the society's name changed to the Vancouver Island Crisis Society.
• The society's motto was officially recognized as "Helping People Find Their Way."
• In September, in recognition of World Suicide Prevention Week, the Crisis Society presented Suicide Awareness and Response and Suicide Bereavement workshops in five communities on Vancouver Island. Fees collected were donated to United Way branches in these communities.
• In September, the Crisis Society launched two community Facebook Fan Pages: Vancouver Island Crisis Society and Vancouver Island Crisis Society - Youth (merged into one Facebook page in 2014).
• Office Manager Raymonde St-Hilaire retired in December after 26 years of dedicated service to the Vancouver Island Crisis Society.

• In March and April, the Crisis Society presented a workshop, Strengthening Protective Factors in Community, in nine Vancouver Island communities as part of Crisis Line Awareness Week.
• After a one-year hiatus, the Central Vancouver Island Resource Directory was published once again.
• In June, the Crisis Society launched Crisis Chat Online Emotional Support services.
• In September, in honour of World Suicide Prevention Week, the Crisis Society presented 10 Innovative Approaches to Suicide Prevention workshops in nine Vancouver Island communities, at no cost to registrants.
• In December, transitioning of the Suicide Bereavement Support Group from the Vancouver Island Crisis Society to the Nanaimo Community Hospice Society is completed.

• The Crisis Society presented a workshop in the Spring throughout Vancouver Island. Facilitators introduced Trauma Informed Approaches to Suicide Prevention this workshop a total of ten times, including a presentation at CFB Esquimalt.
• Once again, we honoured World Suicide Prevention Day as we present a workshop throughout Vancouver Island. Creating New Conversations presented the narratives of suicide attempt survivors. As well, facilitators presented new research and groundbreaking work being done worldwide to expand conversations to include these very important voices, who ultimately speak of hope and resilience.
• In October, the Crisis Society launched Crisis Text services.
Soles Remembering Souls returned to the Port Theatre in November, this time in honour of International Survivors of Suicide Loss Day.

• A fourth tier to School Suicide Prevention is introduced in late March. An Informational Night for Parents, which addresses Adolescent Mental Wellness, is developed and presented to 30 parents.
• Two customized presentations of "Train the Trainer" for the GRASP workshop are facilitated to university counsellors and crisis centre administrators.
• The workshop honouring World Suicide Prevention Day was presented in five Vancouver Island communities in September. The presentations of How to Avoid the 10 Most Common Mistakes of Suicide Intervention resulted in nearly 160 participants in Duncan, Courtenay, Nanaimo, Port Alberni, and Victoria taking detailed notes of helpful tools applied  in suicide intervention.
Soles Remembering Souls took place in November at Vancouver Island University. On this occasion, an educational workshop which addressed Suicide Loss: What Helps? and inspiring performances were presented.

• LivingWorks' three-hour workshop, safeTALK, the precursor to ASIST's two-day workshop, began to be faciliated by the Vancouver Island Crisis Society. It was introduced to Vancouver Island communities in March and April.
• In September, Soles Remembering Soles returned to Maffeo Sutton Park at Nanaimo's waterfront. Presentations were made at the gazebo and a walk in memory of lost loved ones circumnavigated the park.

• To honour Crisis Line Awareness Week, the Crisis Society developed and presented the Anxiety and On-Suicidal Self-Injury in Youth workshop in Port Hardy, Nanaimo, and Victoria.
• This year's edition of Soles Remembering Souls addressed healing and took place again at Maffeo Sutton Park on the official day of World Suicide Prevention Day, which is September 10.
• The Crisis Society participated as one of four pilot sites for the Canada Suicide Prevention Service, launched on November 28, 2017.

• In tandem with Soles Remembering Souls' annual return to Maffeo Sutton Park in September, which addressed the loneliness of grieving, a new workshop, entitled The Effects of Loneliness and Social Isolation on Health, was presented for the first time the following week.

• Our Community Education team began offering Spreak Out Reach Out Help Out - UNPLUGGED in Vancouver Island schools. As well, a new program, whose acronym is COPE, was developed and facilitated to students from Grades 5 to 7. It is based on our GRASP gateway program, offered to high school students.

• The Vancouver Island Crisis Society celebrated 50 years of Helping People Find Their Way. We honoured our community partners and past and current volunteers, board members, and employees for their dedication to supporting and empowering our fellow citizens.
• Our Crisis Services showed an increase in interactions as we continued to provide support during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Volunteer Training program began to be offered as a hybrid of online and in-person sessions. Our Community Education programs were offered either in person or via the Zoom platform. ASIST and safeTALK continued to be offered in person. All training offered at our Training Centre or off-site was facilitated with strict adherence to WorkSafeBC's protocols.
• A free online interactive version of the popular COPE program became available to young learners, educators, and parents. A series of videos, accompanied by two guides, invited participant discussion about mindfulness, confidence, and self-talk.
• The Crisis Society began to offer Suicide Bereavement Support Services in September. The Zoom platform was accessed to provide support to all Vancouver Island communities in a monthly group meeting setting (last offered in 2013) and one-on-one to survivors of suicide loss via Zoom, phone, or in person.

• During the fiscal year ending March 31, 2021, the interactions answered by Crisis Line Responders increased by 6 per cent, even while the Crisis Society experienced volunteer and staff shortages. We responded to more than 43,000 interactions — our highest number to date.
• The Crisis Society set a new record for Public Training presentations, as we continued to facilitate ASIST and safeTALK workshops in person in our Vancouver Island communities, while welcoming participants from other parts of British Columbia, during the second year of the pandemic. Many also attended workshops developed by VICS, either in person or virtually, in record numbers.

We continue to answer interactions on the formerly named Canada Suicide Prevention Service, now known as the Talk Suicide Canada network.
• We introduce three new training and volunteering options to Vancouver Islanders interested in supporting their communities as Crisis Line Responders. One option takes place mostly at our Crisis Centre in Nanaimo, and two options allow training and volunteering to take place remotely.