History

For decades, many people with disability were afforded little choice but to live in publicly funded institutions like Woodlands – separated from family and friends, devoid of choice and opportunity, and isolated from their communities. But then came change.

In the 1970s, a small group of parents with children then living in Woodlands came together to champion a new vision for their loved ones – one that would see their children leave institutional life in favour of receiving the direct funding and supports needed to live as full citizens in their home communities. To achieve this, the Woodlands Parents’ Group (as it was known) created the Community Living Society – an organization dedicated to identifying, developing and providing supports to help people with disability live full, empowered, self-determined and inclusive lives within their communities.

"Each individual – including each of our sons and daughters, brothers and sisters with handicaps – is a unique person. He or she is irreplaceable. Each brings his or her own unique gifts into the world, and each also brings his or her own particular needs into the world. Our conviction (is) that the deepest needs of each individual, and even a great many of each person's more "superficial" needs, can only be adequately met on an individualized basis."

Community Living Society Foundations - 1977

Today, thanks to the ongoing leadership of families and self-advocates, the guidance of our dedicated Board, and our team of skilled and passionate employees, the CLS is a leader in the provision of unique and flexible support services for people with developmental disabilities.

In 1982, the CLS produced a film that recorded the remarkable stories of two people as the transitioned out of Woodlands and into their first home. Today, this film is used as an education and training resource around the world. Click here to watch the film, "Breaking Through".

Read more about the history of de-institutionalization in British Columba, and the groundbreaking work of the Woodlands Parents Group.