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Canucks Autism Network was founded in 2008 by Vancouver Canucks Co-owners, Paolo and Clara Aquilini.

About Autism

What is Autism?

Autism is characterized by differences with social communication, sensory sensitivities and repetitive behaviour, as well as a wide range of individual strengths, interests and abilities.

What is the prevalence of autism?

In British Columbia, 1 in 30 children and youth is on the autism spectrum. There are over 28,000 children and youth on the autism spectrum province-wide.*

*Ministry of Children and Family Development, December 2023

There is no publicly available data for the prevalence of autism in adults.

About Canucks Autism Network (CAN)

Who founded Canucks Autism Network?

Canucks Autism Network was founded in 2008 by Vancouver Canucks co-owners Paolo and Clara Aquilini, whose son Christian, is on the autism spectrum.

What does Canucks Autism Network do?

Canucks Autism Network provides programs for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, while promoting acceptance and inclusion through training and accessibility consultation across BC and beyond.

Canucks Autism Network is a registered charity under the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Our registered charity number is: 82247 2957 RR0001.

What does Canucks Autism Network stand for?

Our vision is for every individual on the autism spectrum to be understood, accepted, and supported in all community spaces.

  • We believe that every child on the autism spectrum has the right to play sports.
  • We believe that every individual on the autism spectrum and their family has the right to meaningful social connections.
  • We believe that every Autistic youth should be supported during important transitions into adulthood.
  • We believe that every Autistic individual has the right to equitable access to meaningful employment.
  • We believe that every community should take action to include and support individuals on the autism spectrum.
  • We believe that every Autistic individual has the right to an active voice: to be heard, valued and seen.
What is Canucks Autism Network’s impact in BC?
  • Over 9,000 individuals on the autism spectrum and their families have been directly impacted by CAN programs since our inception in 2008.
  • We deliver approximately 700+ programs each year.
  • We train thousands of community members each year.

Visit our annual report for more >

How many people work for Canucks Autism Network?
  • Over 40 full-time staff at our head office in Vancouver
  • 5 Regional Coordinators across the Fraser Valley, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo & Victoria
  • Hundreds of part-time program staff (ie. onsite supervisors, coaches, support workers and program assistants), learning facilitators, event staff and volunteers across BC
How is CAN governed and managed? Where can I access financial statements?

Canucks Autism Network is governed by a democratically elected Board of Directors.

Our financials are audited yearly. View our Annual Report and our Financial Statements.

How can I work or volunteer with Canucks Autism Network?

We are often hiring for a range of full-time office positions at our Vancouver headquarters, as well as part-time program staff (ie. support workers, coaches & more), training (ie. learning facilitators) and event positions across the Lower Mainland, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo and Victoria. See current opportunities at canucksautism.ca/jobs.

In addition to our staff, we are always looking for dedicated and passionate individuals who want to donate their time. Our volunteers collaborate with our trained and qualified staff to provide individualized and adapted support to children, youth, and adults on the autism spectrum. Volunteers must be at least 16 years of age to support CAN programs. Learn more at canucksautism.ca/volunteer.

What is the association with the Vancouver Canucks?

Canucks Autism Network (CAN) was founded by Paolo and Clara Aquilini, Co-owners of the Vancouver Canucks. In addition, CAN receives generous funding from the Canucks for Kids Fund and support from the Vancouver Canucks organization at fundraising and community engagement events throughout the year.

About CAN Training & Community Engagement

What sort of training does Canucks Autism Network provide?

Canucks Autism Network (CAN)’s province-wide training team offers customizable autism workshops to various groups including sport coaches, recreation staff, first responders, school staff, employers, health practitioners and a range of community spaces.

In addition to live training workshops, CAN has helped build several FREE eLearning Modules for various sectors. For more information, please visit canucksautism.ca/training.

What do Canucks Autism Network training workshops entail?

Our workshops provide an introduction to autism and strategies for supporting individuals on the spectrum in a variety of settings.

Topics can include:

  • Identifying and understanding autism
  • Communication strategies and tips
  • Behaviour support and motivational strategies
  • Coaching/teaching tools
  • Rapport-building strategies
  • Social inclusion supports
What sort of accessibility resources does Canucks Autism Network provide?

Canucks Autism Network actively collaborates with various organizations and community spaces to increase accessibility for individuals on the spectrum. This type of community engagement can include:

  • Individualized Consultation
  • Resource Development (ie.training videos, activity storybooks, checklists, maps, etc)
  • Hosting autism-friendly programs or Sensory Friendly Spaces at events

About CAN programs

What programs are offered by Canucks Autism Network?

Canucks Autism Network offers a range of in-person and virtual programs that support participants from childhood to early adulthood.

  • Early Years (3-6 yrs)
    The focus is on building fundamental movement skills and practicing social skills.
    Core programs include Active, Swim and Skate.
  • Children (7-12yrs)
    Programs support the development of sport-focused movement skills and social skills.
    Core programs include Multisport, Swim, Skate and Summer Day Camp.
    Special opportunity programs include Gymnastics, Hockey, Music, and Overnight Camp.
  • Youth & Adults (13-17, 18+yrs)
    Programs help support the transition into adulthood.
    Core focus areas for programs include: employment & volunteering, social connection, recreation & leisure, mental health & wellness, and life skills development.
  • Family Experiences (All Ages)
    Family Experiences allow our members to enjoy community-level activities and attractions at no cost, while connecting with other CAN families. Opportunities may include drive-in movies, mini golf, bowling, trips to the farm, holiday lights displays and more.

For more info, please visit canucksautism.ca/programs.

What are CAN’s virtual programs?

During the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic, Canucks Autism Network (CAN) developed a range of virtual programs that participants of all ages could access in real-time from home.

After in-person programs were re-introduced, we decided to retain virtual programs, as they offered a unique opportunity for participants to engage online. It also allowed for individuals on the autism spectrum in all regions of British Columbia to access our programs.

Virtual programs vary from season-to-season, but include arts and crafts, sports and rec, movies, social meet ups and employment skills.

All sessions use the free Zoom app (an online meeting platform) and are facilitated by CAN staff who are able to connect with participants in real-time, teaching lessons in a fun, new and digital environment.

Learn more at canucksautism.ca/programs.

What makes Canucks Autism Network programs unique?
  • Highly trained and experienced staff
  • Individualized support: staff and volunteers provide 1:1 support when needed, while encouraging independence, whenever possible.
  • Programs are offered at highly subsidized rates*
    *Eligible for reimbursement via Autism Funding or through our Fee Assistance Program.
Where are Canucks Autism Network programs offered?

In-person programs are delivered across the Metro Vancouver,* Fraser Valley,** Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, and Victoria regions. Virtual programs are offered province wide.

*Metro Vancouver: From Vancouver/Richmond to Maple Ridge/Langley
**Fraser Valley: Mission, Abbotsford & Chilliwack

Why aren't you offering programs in my community?

In accordance with our strategic plan, we are currently focused on providing in-person programs in major urban centres across the province, including Metro Vancouver, Fraser Valley, Kamloops, Kelowna, Nanaimo, and Victoria regions.

When we enter new communities, we look for:

  • The number of individuals on the autism spectrum in the area
  • Potential support from community partners (rec centres who are interested in hosting the program and organizations that can partner with us to deliver the program)
  • Local donor support
  • Availability of staff/volunteers
  • Other similar programs that are already being offered in the region

We encourage individuals from communities outside of our in-person program regions to explore CAN’s virtual programming, which offers peer interaction and staff instruction in real-time.

Additionally, CAN autism training is delivered in communities across the province. By delivering workshops on supporting individuals on the spectrum in a variety of community settings, we can build capacity in regions where we don’t have a physical presence.

For more information, please visit canucksautism.ca/programs.

About the CAN Community

What is the Canucks Autism Network Community?

The Canucks Autism Network (CAN) Community is open to all individuals on the autism spectrum. An account is required to register for most CAN programs and family experiences.

By joining, individuals are able to access our full range of opportunities at little to no additional cost.

CAN also offers a Fee Assistance Program for those who may benefit. Email [email protected] for details.

For more information on joining the CAN Community, visit canucksautism.ca/join.

What is the criteria to join Canucks Autism Network?
  • An individual on the autism spectrum
    • For ages 0-12, official proof of diagnosis is required
    • For ages 13+, the individual can self-identify as being on the autism spectrum
  • Immediate family members
  • Individuals and families wishing to register must live in British Columbia

For more information on joining the CAN Community, visit canucksautism.ca/join.

Why isn’t an official diagnosis required for individuals aged 13 and up?

One of the most common barriers that Autistic youth and adults face is the need for a formal autism diagnosis to access supports. By removing this requirement, we can ensure that any youth or adult who identifies as being on the autism spectrum can access CAN programs and services. Learn more >

How much does it cost to join?

It is free to join the Canucks Autism Network Community!

We do not wish for the financial cost to be a barrier for any individual or family wishing to participate in our programs. For info on our Fee Assistance Program, email [email protected].

How do I sign up for the CAN Community?

Create an account at canucksautism.ca/register to access all future programs and events.

If you are a parent/guardian, you will create the account under your name, and then add your additional family members, including the individual(s) on the autism spectrum.

If you are an Autistic adult registering yourself, you will create the account under your own name.

After you create your online account, you will then submit the following three items:

  1. Proof of autism diagnosis (if under the age of 13) – any physician signed document that clearly states the individual is on the autism spectrum,
  2. Photos of the family members listed in your online account – for internal purposes only, for example we use them as a point of reference to help us identify who is in photos taken at programs,

Items may be emailed to [email protected], or sent by post to Canucks Autism Network, 1788 W 8th Ave, Vancouver, BC, V6Y 1V6.

Additional Membership & Program FAQs

Why doesn’t Canucks Autism Network support all disabilities?

Since its inception in 2008, Canucks Autism Network has delivered programs that have been specifically designed and adapted for individuals on the autism spectrum. In addition, much of the funding we receive is designated for autism programming.

However, the strategies referenced in our autism training workshops can be helpful when supporting a wide range of individuals who require adaptations.

Do you accept individuals on the autism spectrum who can be aggressive during a meltdown?

Yes. With collaboration and communication with the parent and/or participant, our staff are trained to manage many types of challenging behaviours.

Do you accept individuals on the autism spectrum who are non-verbal?

Yes. We welcome individuals across the autism spectrum, regardless of their support needs. We utilize a variety of strategies and provide a range of supports including visual cues and iPads and can always staff up to ensure participants are safely supported.

Do you welcome individuals on the autism spectrum across all ranges of support needs?

Yes. We welcome individuals from across the autism spectrum. We can provide 1:1 support or even 2:1 support, as needed.

For participants who have less support needs, our staff are also trained to facilitate independence, whenever possible.

When creating one’s membership profile, parents, guardians and/or individuals on the spectrum are asked to include information about participant likes/dislikes, triggers, communication abilities, recommended supports, level of independence and more.

Additionally, parents, guardians and individuals on the autism spectrum are encouraged to collaborate with the Onsite Supervisor at programs to identify specific support needs and determine best strategies.

Do you charge for your programs?

CAN programs have highly subsidized fees to ensure their long-term financial sustainability.

Along with traditional payment options, we accept Autism Funding (for programs with fees over $100) and sporting grants, including JumpStart and KidSport.

For details on payment options, please visit our Program Payment Options webpage. Email [email protected] for more info.

Can siblings participate in programs?

Siblings of individuals on the autism spectrum are welcome at Family Experiences and other select opportunities.

I am having troubles with registration. What do I do?

If you are experiencing difficulties with the online registration process, please see our Frequently Asked Questions – Registration.

If you still cannot find the answer you are looking for, please contact the office by email at [email protected], or by phone at 604-685-4049. Our helpful team will be able to look into the issues that you are experiencing, and help answer your questions.

Fundraising-related FAQs

Where does Canucks Autism Network receive its funding?

Canucks for Kids Fund (CFKF) is one of our major funders and accounts for approximately a quarter of our total revenue on an annual basis. CAN is a registered charity that operates separately from Canucks Sports and Entertainment.

In addition to CFKF, we benefit from government funding, foundation grants, corporate donations, third-party fundraisers, cause marketing campaigns and individual donations. The largest portion of our fundraising revenue comes from CAN-led fundraising events (ie. Reveal Gala and CAN Pro-Am Hockey Tournament) and campaigns (ie. online auctions, raffles and giving campaigns).

How can I fundraise for the Canucks Autism Network?

Please contact [email protected] and a staff member will be in touch to guide and support you in your fundraising efforts.

I have a tax receipt-related question.

Please visit our Tax Receipt FAQs.

Additional Canucks-related FAQs

Do Canucks players attend programs and events?

Players, alumni, and personnel show their support by attending select programs and signature events like CAN Sports Day and the CAN Pro-Am Hockey Tournament.

Do CAN members receive Canucks tickets?

Tickets are occasionally donated by the Canucks for Kids Fund, season ticket holders, or other supporters to give to our members. However, we cannot predict at any time when tickets may be made available or how they will be distributed.