Turning Interest Into Action
In 1864, the pioneering Sisters of St. Ann purchased a 400-acre farm on which they first developed a boarding school for young First Nations' girls (1864-1876) and then enlarged to make room for orphaned girls from the Academy in Victoria. In 1904, the school became a boarding school for boys. In 1921, a larger school building was built. The number of students increased after the construction. In 1950, girls were enrolled as externs and the student population grew to over 100. In 1956, the school became a day school for girls and boys. The school closed in 1964 and moved its teaching down the street to the current Queen of Angels school site.
The 1960s and1970s were a period of change and turmoil in much of the world. The tumult encouraged a number of efforts to build community to establish a better way of working together. It was in just such an atmosphere that 1978 saw a group of people with varied backgrounds and interests get together to discuss building community at the old St. Ann’s School and farm in Duncan.
From 1978 to 1979, meetings took place with the Sisters and other interested persons, and by July 12, 1979, agreement had been made to establish a registered charity named the Vancouver Island Providence Community Association (VIPCA) – named in memory of Sister Mary Providence, the founder of the school in Duncan in 1864. The mission of the newly established VIPCA was established and therapeutic programming began. The farm site became known as Providence Farm
In 2009, at the celebration of Providence Farm’s 30th Anniversary, the Sisters of St. Ann generously and formally gifted the farm property to VIPCA who now owns this property and infrastructure. VIPCA has no direct affiliation with the Catholic Church.
Providence Farm continues to operate today as an independent, working, therapeutic, secular organization serving adults and seniors with a variety of mental health challenges, developmental and intellectual disabilities and age-related illnesses.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
We have a committed group of community minded directors, several who have been involved since the early days of the formation of Providence Farm as a non-profit society. They come from many professions – private businesses, social work, farming, mental health, retirees – and as such, provide a balanced governance that has not wavered from the society’s original mandate.
2019/20 Board of Directors
Noelle Philp (Chair)
Karen Bittner (Vice Chair)
Doug Ramsfield (Secretary)
Tom Todd (Treasurer)
Application to Join the Board of Directors
An excellent team of 34 full-time and part-time staff are called to work in service to create the therapeutic community of Providence Farm. Our team offers a dynamic and diverse blend of skills, qualifications and abilities along with a genuine commitment to the people in our programs. Our compassion and dedication forms the core of our community which is something you FEEL the moment you join us on the Farm! Have a look at our annual report below to see some our accomplishments from the past year.
Each person who participates in the programs at Providence Farm brings along a unique story, a unique circumstance and a unique perspective. These elements come together to form at once the needs which are met by the programs at the farm and the strengths from which it has grown and produced fruit.
Adults from the Cowichan Valley who are coping with mental health issues, developmental disabilities and head injuries are a large part of the community at the Farm. There are also opportunities for student practicum placements, work retraining, volunteerism and for other individuals seeking what our community has to offer.