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The Canucks Autism Network (CAN) provides year-round, innovative, high quality sports, recreational, social and employment related programs for individuals and families living with autism, while building awareness and capacity through community networks across British Columbia.

The Canucks Autism Network team consists of a diverse group of trained staff, support workers and dedicated volunteers who administer programs for families and individuals living with autism in our province.

The Canucks Autism Network Story

In 1996 Paolo and Clara Aquilini listened in shock and disbelief as medical professionals diagnosed their son with autism.

In the following years Paolo and Clara experienced the trials and triumphs that come with raising a child with autism. They also began to live with the frustration of watching their beloved child struggle to participate in “normal” activities and at times be told that he was simply unable to do so. Autism deeply affects not only the individual who is diagnosed, but also their families. As the rate of occurrence of autism continues to climb and existing programs become increasingly overwhelmed, Paolo and Clara’s hearts and prayers continually go out to other families facing the same turmoil and challenges.

Compelled by the growing need in the community and driven by their own personal experience, Paolo and Clara constantly searched for ways to support families living with autism. It is their profound desire to enhance the quality of life for families living with autism in BC. This vision is the founding inspiration for the Canucks Autism Network and guides the organization in its mission to provide high quality recreational, sports, social and vocational development programs for individuals and families living with autism and to build capacity through community networks across British Columbia.

Message from CAN

Since 2009, the Fishing for Kids Tournament has fueled the Canucks Autism Network (CAN) in its mission to enrich the quality of life of individuals and families living with autism in British Columbia. It has provided children with the opportunity to take part in sports and recreational activities that build skills, friendships, confidence and self-esteem.

At CAN, we see firsthand the impact we have on the families we serve. We watch as parents bond over shared experiences, as participants break through barriers, and as families realize that they are not alone. However, with 11,000 individuals living with autism in BC, we recognize that there is still much work to be done. We also recognize the heightened need for support in the underserviced areas of our province. For this reason, our focus in the coming year will be on building capacity across BC by arming community recreation staff with strategies for supporting children with autism in community settings. By doing so, we will be able to provide even more families with access to community level support in their home communities, whether on the Island, in the Interior, in the North or on the Lower Mainland.

On behalf of everyone at the Canucks Autism Network, thank you to the Fishing for Kids participants, sponsors and organizers for making this philanthropic event a success year after year. It is thanks to you that we can continue to welcome new members. It is thanks to you that we can transport families from a life of isolation into a world of hope. It is thanks to you that we can empower kids to be kids.