CNIB Celebrates a Century of Change: On 100th anniversary, iconic charity reflects on achievements and proclaims a bold future



OTTAWA – Joined by special guests and supporters, CNIB commemorated a century of remarkable change and progress for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted and ushered in a bright new future at its 100th anniversary national celebration on March 21.

More than 400 guests, including clients, volunteers, donors, staff and community partners, joined the charity for an inspirational reception at the Canadian War Museum, a fitting venue for an organization founded in 1918 in the wake of the First World War. 

"When our seven founders came together a century ago, they envisioned a future of ability, opportunity and equality for every blind and partially sighted citizen," said John M. Rafferty, President and CEO of CNIB. "That vision has been at the centre of CNIB's work ever since, propelling us to drive powerful change for the millions of Canadians we have served. That impact is their legacy, and we're proud to celebrate it."

The evening's celebrations were hosted by Craig Oliver, with a key focus on acknowledging trailblazers who shaped the CNIB of today, and forged new paths of opportunity for people with sight loss in Canada. These individuals and organizations were presented with the Century of Change Award, a special award created to honour extraordinary contributions to CNIB and Canada's sight loss community.

Speakers included including the Honorable Kirsty Duncan, Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson, CNIB National Board Chair Ronald J. Kruzeniski and Minister of Public Services and Procurement Carla Qualtrough. Qualtrough, herself a recipient of the CNIB Century of Change Award, spoke of her own experience living with partial sight and the impact CNIB has had on her life from a young age. 

“Thank you to the CNIB and your entire volunteer network for the important work that you do every day to help remove barriers to inclusion for persons with visual impairments in Canada," said Qualtrough. "You are so important to so many families, including my own and will forever hold a very special place in our hearts.”

The event also featured special exhibits on CNIB's past, present and future. Highlights included a meet-and-greet with CNIB guide dogs in training Barney and Danson, a look back at blind literacy through the years, and assistive technologies from early tools to leading-edge digital devices and apps. Also on display were a newly released coin set created by the Royal Canadian Mint and designed by partially sighted artist Meghan Sims and a commemorative envelope created by Canada Post, both paying tribute to CNIB's 100th anniversary.

While the evening emphasized CNIB's storied history, the century-old organization also set out its bold ambitions for the future, renewing its original mission with a new vigour and purpose.

"As we look ahead, I couldn't be more excited as CNIB continues our work in shaping a brighter future for Canadians with sight loss. Increasing access to employment and technology, advocating for more accessible communities, connecting more Canadians with guide dogs – we are ready to take on these challenges and more," said Kruzeniski.

"We need to aim high - be bold in our ambitions – and not settle until we've created the inclusive, equal future our founders envisioned," said Rafferty. "That's what the next century will be about for CNIB."

CNIB's 100th anniversary celebration at the Canadian War Museum was made possible by the generous support of Novartis Canada, Microsoft, Uber and Veterans Affairs Canada.

About CNIB
CNIB is a registered charity, passionately providing community-based support, knowledge and a national voice to ensure Canadians who are blind or partially sighted have the confidence, skills and opportunities to fully participate in life. To learn more, visit or call 1-800-563-2642.

For an image gallery or more information on the event, please contact:
Matisse Hamel-Nelis
Centennial Project Manager
416-486-2500 ext. 8355


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