About Us

As Canada’s leading child and youth mentoring charity, Big Brothers Big Sisters facilitates life-changing relationships that inspire and empower children and youth to reach their potential, both as individuals and citizens.

Our Central Vancouver Island History

Big Brothers have been active in mentoring Nanaimo children and youth since January 1969. The first meeting took place at the Tally Ho Lodge with approximately 25 people present. With the assistance of Frank Saunders (Provincial Director) a board of directors was elected that same evening and membership into Big Brothers Canada was granted on May 7, 1969.

Although Big Brothers of Nanaimo were addressing the mentoring need for male youth within the community, two individuals from the Boys and Girls club realized that services to female youth were limited. In July of 1979 these 2 ladies pulled together a steering committee of 10 women. Thanks to the assistance of several active agencies (Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver) Big Sisters of Nanaimo was incorporated in July of 1980.

Over the next 20 years, both Big Brothers of Nanaimo and Big Sisters of Nanaimo successfully matched “Bigs” and “Littles” within the community; however, they realized that it would be more efficient and effective for their two societies to merge. In July 2000 an amalgamation process was begun and by August 2001 the amalgamation process was complete. Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island (BBBSCVI) was born. Shortly after the inception of BBBSCVI, Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Parksville/Qualicum Beach dissolved its Agency and BBBSCVI absorbed the existing matches within that region.

By the end of 2001 the Central Vancouver Island branch had effectively expanded its reach. Within the next several years BBBSCVI was successful in introducing many new initiatives to the community.

2001 – Saw the introduction and success of an In-School Mentoring Pilot Program launched at Brechin Elementary School (Nanaimo).

2002 – Couples for Kids was conceived and launched; the In-School Mentoring program expanded and served 5 schools and 68 children.

2003 – BBBSCVI pioneered the first Teen Mentoring Program in BC; Central Vancouver Island staff trained and assisted other agencies in BC to launch similar programs.

2005 – The Agency received the National Leadership and Excellence Award for the development and innovation of the Teen Mentoring Program along with the Growth Award from Big Brothers and Big Sisters Canada (BBBSC); School District 68 (Nanaimo/Ladysmith) recognized the In School Mentoring program as one of the “strategies that supports their goal of social responsibility”; 5 schools and 127 children served.

2006 -A co-locate with Volunteer Nanaimo to a larger facility on Labieux Road (Nanaimo) provided BBBSCVI the opportunity to share staff and resources, as well as grow a positive partnership; BBSCVI was again honored with the Growth Award from BBBSC.

2007 – In School Mentorship expanded to 13 schools and 142 children served; BBBSCVI received National Accreditation.

2008 – The Run for Kids Sake event was added to the fundraising portfolio; Leadership BC ran a volunteer recruitment campaign in our honor which resulted in 13 more matches that year; Go Girls Group Program was piloted in Fairview Elementary School.

2009 – Brought with it continued growth and successes with record breaking fundraising efforts in a questionable economy; first Senior Mentoring Project was launched and a team of Senior Ambassadors assisted with the recruitment and development of the project.

2010 – A year of peaks and valleys, the economic downturn resulted in a decision to lay off fifty percent of our staff.  A recovery plan was implemented, eliminating the Golf tournament and focussed on the development of a Big-Give Campaign.  This year the Go-girls program expanded while we piloted an RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Project).

2011 – Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Vancouver Island received accreditation from BBBS National.  Little Brother Tali Campbell, was awarded a CIBC scholarship.  Tali also was employed as a summer student this year.

2012 – A structure was created for our clothing collection program that focussed on partnerships, sustainability and ownership.  Through the development of this program, special events were very small.

2013 – Celebrating 100 years in Canada.  Nanaimo Toyota sponsored a purple car to be used for marketing and programs.  Two of our littles attended the Youth Summit in Ottawa, compliments of WestJet.  Little Sister Megan Rickett was the guest speaker at the United Way breakfast this year.  Application was made to School District 71 to expand our programs to the Comox Valley.

2014 – We expanded our Community Partnerships and completed a Business Plan for our Recycled Clothing Program, sponsored by Enterprising Non Profits. Service Canada sponsored a former little brother on a summer grant who focused on special events and marketing. The Recycled Clothing Program was enhanced by providing work experience for clients of the Workability Program (a not-for-profit agency), who have employment barriers. As well, a One-Step-Up program was offered to our families whereby they have access to new clothing by exchanging old clothing for new items.

2015 – A big year of transition for us as we moved to our new location at 2030 Northfield Road. We undertook a renovation project at our new location with many businesses and people donating time, materials and labour to the project. We also introduced our programs into Georgia Avenue School in Nanaimo sponsored by Island Savings.We were also happy to send 4 deserving children to Tim Hortons Camp this year. Our Executive Director, Denise Robinson is working in concert with our Resource Coordinator, Jennifer Kemp on a succession plan. The plan will have Jennifer transition into the Executive Director role by 2018.

2016 – A year of change and transition for us as an agency as Paulyne Robinson, our beloved caseworker decided to relocate and leave us after over 12 years of faithful service. We were happy to welcome Stephen Cochrane as Director of Service Delivery who has taken over Paulyne’s role and has done a tremendous job in administering and growing our programs. We were happy to report that we sent 9 children to Tim Horton’s Camp this year and introduced our Game on Program to Brechin and Georgia Avenue Schools. We also opened our programs at Gabriola Elementary School on Gabriola Island.  We had two excellent internship students from the MBA program work with us; Rijo Varghese and Debasish Sinha. We also launched our “Big Deals Clothing Program” this year. We were happy to welcome Shannon Katz and Frank Bailey to our Board and were sad to see Anita Smith and Jodi Meldrum move on from the Board, Thank you so much for your contributions Anita and Jodi, you really helped make a difference!

2017 – This year has been both challenging and rewarding. Rewarding in the sense that we served many children and launched many new matches, the challenge was the loss of one of the big program sponsors resulting in a deficit in the year end. As a result, we took strategic steps to strengthen sustainable revenue that will support our mentoring programs. These steps were to move the recycled clothing program upstairs giving it more exposure and marketing with rebranding it as “The Big Deals Boutique” . The other step was to secure a funder for purchase of a van which will reduce our expenses for the vehicle. Sustainable funding will support our programs; The Rogers Foundation is very large supporter in this endeavour. One of the many highlights this year was five staff, Board and volunteers went to the Dominican Republic to build two houses with other Big Brothers Big Sisters agencies in Canada. We are very grateful to West Jet for supporting this adventure by covering the cost of the flights. This trip was amazing, humbling and life changing for our group. This year was also very pivotal for us as an agency in that our Executive Director, Denise Robinson retired after over 20 years of faithful service. We are sad to see her go but wish her all the very best in her retirement.

2018 –  This year we had 195 Youth in Mentoring Programs in Schools (Adult , Teen and Groups). 5 Youth Participated in Tim Hortons Camp, 1 Eco Defenders, 4 Camp Phoenix. 14 Littles, 9 mentors, 8 parents, 4 board, 3 staff and families participated in our Christmas Bowling event. 3 Youth Volunteered Sorting and Working in Big Deals Boutique. 3 Youth Practicum and 2 MBA students did their internship and practicums at our office. 8 Youth from the Me to We club organized a clothing drive at Dover Bay School. 45 Youth / family members attended a Port Theatre Performance. 22 Youth / mentors attended Clipper Hockey Games. 11 Youth and Families received Christmas Hamper. 26 Youth / mentors received free Bowling from Bowling
Canada. 22 Youth / mentors Participated in Christmas Parade. 9 Mentors attended Hi Five child safety training. 30 families received Angel Tickets from the Port Theatre, 4 Vancouver Canadians tickets and 10 to Circus Osorio.

2019 –  This year, 225 Littles and 100 Mentors participate in our Community, In-School Mentoring and Group (Go Girls & Game On) Programs. We had a total of 216 volunteers give back to our agency — donating 15,788hours of their time! We had 5 Practicum and 4 MBA students complete their internships and practicums at our office.  3 youth from the Claro Life Skills Program volunteered by sorting and working in the Big Deals Boutique. Also, 27 Mentors attended High 5 Training provided by BCRPA. 11 Littles attended Tim Horton’s Camp and 5 Littles participated in Camp Day at Tim Hortons (Bowen and Campbell Street locations). 60 Littles and family members attended Port Theatre Events through the Angel Tickets Program; 25 Littles and Mentors attended Clipper Hockey Games/Boston Pizza VIP night; 26 Littles and Mentors received free Bowling from Bowling Canada; 18 Littles and Mentors participated in our Christmas Parade; and 90 youth and families received Shriners tickets to Magic Show.  7 Board and Staff participated in Curious Comicon Fundraiser; 3,000 attended the event! 9 Board Members attended our first annual Haunted House Fundraiser at the Qualicum Civic Centre October 26th and 31st. 5 BBBSCVI volunteers and Alair Homes staff attended the first annual Great Pumpkin Fundraiser on November 9th.

2020 – This has been a very difficult year due to the Covid 19 epidemic. Restrictions on the delivery of programs reduced the number of children served and programs run but allowed us as an agency to be innovative as we transitioned to a virtual program delivery model. We also introduced a brand new program called “Play on” due to requests from our school partners to have a program tailored to the needs of children who identify LGBTIA+ and a program which is gender-neutral.

2021 – This year has also been very difficult due to the Covid 19 epidemic. Our School and District partners have mandated that outside extra-curricular groups are not allowed on school premises due to the pandemic. This has seriously affected our In School Mentoring and Group Programs. 2021 gave us an opportunity to review our mentor and family screening and interviewing processes allowing us to make changes, resulting in a greater accuracy when matching mentors with mentees. Additionally, we have moved toan electronic filing system that has made file management and record keeping far more efficient, freeing up time to focus on supporting our matches.

2022: Recovered from pandemic challenges and was invited by our School District Partners to return program delivery to our schools.

2023: hired our Marketing and Communications Coordinator Kimberly Jackson, also got funding, and launched our Career Connect and Mindful Mentoring Programs group programs.