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Our History


co-founders.jpgIn 1984, while working in the marketing department at Air Canada, Jinnie Bradshaw, C.M., learned of the Corporate Angel Network in the Northeastern United States, which used corporate planes to get cancer patients to treatment. Jinnie was certain there was a need for such a service in Canada, but no similar service existed then.
 
Around the same time at the Princess Margaret Cancer Centre in Toronto, volunteer Joan Rogers saw cancer patients from the east coast arriving for treatment after spending 15 to 20 hours on a bus. Joan knew that there had to be a better way.
 
Jinnie was passionate about the idea of creating a charity to help patients get to treatment quickly and easily and soon realized that the time commitment required to bring such an idea into reality was enormous. She resigned her full time work and devoted her efforts to getting the new Canadian charity off the ground. She recruited friends to help, professional colleagues to join the board, corporations to offer their aircraft for flights, and approached many others to financially support the idea.

During this critical time in 1985 and 1986, the stars aligned, and Jinnie and Joan’s paths intersected through mutual contacts at the Canadian Cancer Society. Joining together, these two innovative women became the co-founders of Mission Air Transportation Network (now Hope Air).

On a brisk November day, Hope Air arranged its first flight for a Canadian to get from their home to the hospital – a child from New Brunswick travelled to Toronto for cancer treatment. In that first year, the charity arranged 56 flights.

Since then, Hope Air has arranged more than 150,000 travel arrangments for Canadians in financial need travelling to vital medical care far from home.   
  • 1985

    On June 7th, a letters patent is issued to incorporate Mission Air Transportation Network.

  • 1986

    The first Mission Air flight takes off on November 8th, carrying a young girl from New Brunswick to Toronto for cancer treatment. RBC®, a Hope Air supporter to this day, generously provides the first flight on their corporate plane. 

  • 1987

    Commercial airlines begin supporting Mission Air by donating seats on their aircraft.

  • 1991

    Canadian Airlines designates Mission Air as its preferred charity for donations of Canadian Plus travel points.

  • 1995

    The Right Honourable Roméo LeBlanc becomes the first Vice-Regal Patron of Mission Air. Since then, all succeeding Governor Generals of Canada have become Hope Air Vice-Regal Patrons, including Adrienne Clarkson, Michaëlle Jean and David Johnston. 

  • 1996

    WestJet is founded and immediately becomes a Mission Air supporter, donating seats on flights across the country to our patients. WestJet remains today an exceptional and highly valued Hope Air partner.

  • 1999

    The Volunteer Pilot Program launches, supported by generous pilots who volunteer their time flying patients to appointments on their personal aircraft.
     

  • 2001

    Marc Garneau becomes Hope Air’s first National Honorary Patron. Other Honorary Patrons include Roberta Bondar and Rick Mercer.

  • 2004

    RBC Rewards® launches its points donation program with Hope Air as a designated charity beneficiary.
     

  • 2006

    Hope Air implements its proprietary data management system, HealthNet.

  • 2008

    Hope Air introduces its annual Spirit of Hope Awards in recognition of distinguished volunteerism.

  • 2010

    With donated funds from corporations, foundations, individuals, and special events, Hope Air launches the Flight Purchase Program to augment flights donated by commercial airlines or flights flown by Hope Air’s volunteer pilots.  

  • 2013

    NAV CANADA employees hold their first golf tournament in support of Hope Air.

  • 2015

    Hope Air celebrates its 100,000th flight over the course of its 29-year history.

  • 2016

    Hope Air turns 30!

    2016

    Hope Air partners with PEI’s provincial government to provide Confederation Bridge Passes to Islanders who must travel off the Island to healthcare. This marks the first time in its history that Hope Air provides ground travel to patients.
     

  • 2017

    A record-breaking 12,684 travel arrangements were fulfilled in 2017. We provided 11,640 flights to patients across Canada, as well as 981 Confederation Bridge toll passes and 63 ferry passes to low-income Prince Edward Island families travelling to out-of-province medical appointments.
     

    2017

    We revitalized the Hope Air brand and implemented a forward-thinking digital communications strategy. We debuted our new logo, and website featuring a streamlined form to request a flight.
     

  • 2018

    Two months, two aircraft, 20 countries, and 20,000 miles: one epic journey to power thousands more. The Give Hope Wings crew successfully completed their ambitious expedition: they circumnavigated South America. With the support of their official Patron, Dr. Roberta Bondar, triumphantly surpassed their goal of raising $500,000 for Hope Air.
     

  • 2019

    As part of a special partnership with Airbnb, Hope Air now offers free accommodations to Canadians in financial need who are travelling for medical care.

    2019

    We arranged more travel arrangements this year than in any other year in our 33-year history with a record-breaking 13,097 travel arrangements. 

  • 2020

    Give Hope Wings: The Sault to Saguenay  Expedition 

    The five-day flying expedition led by a group of pilots raised $122,056, far exceeding its fundraising goal by 22 per cent. The expedition travelled through Northern Ontario and Quebec at the beginning of October. The funds will allow Hope Air to provide 488 flights for patients flying with Hope Air.

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