Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay celebrates centennial for Canadian National Institute for the Blind

Thunder Bay's CNIB wasn't about to allow a major milestone like a 100th anniversary pass them by.

Volunteers, clients attend celebration at Victoria Inn

Edison Su, a volunteer with Thunder Bay CNIB chapter, poses with a volunteer appreciation sign during the agency's 100th anniversary celebration on Saturday in Thunder Bay. (CBC News)

Thunder Bay's Canadian National Institute for the Blind (CNIB) wasn't about to allow a major milestone like a 100th anniversary pass them by.

About 140 people — including clients, staff and volunteers — came together on Saturday afternoon in Thunder Bay to celebrate CNIB's centennial, one of many celebrations happening across Canada.

"I am honoured, for one, to be part of this incredible organization," said Tanis Boardman, CNIB program lead for peer support and advocacy. "It's very exciting to be with this organization as it reaches such a commemorative milestone."

The Halifax Explosion of 1917 caused vision loss in many people, and CNIB was founded in response in 1918. High blindness rates among veterans returning from the First World War also contributed to its opening.

​"People had nowhere to turn with vision loss, " said Lisa Rozenbergs, CNIB vision rehabilitation assistant. "CNIB filled that gap. It's helped to rehab people with different degrees of vision loss over the years."

Services offered for blind, partially-sighted

Today the organization offers a number of services for the blind and partially-sighted, Rozenbergs said. Some examples include independent living specialists who help people with vision loss manage their life in their homes, and "orientation mobility specialists, who help people navigate the world with a cane or other skill sets."

"We have an early intervention specialists who deals with children 0-6 years of age, we have low vision specialists [for] people who need magnification options."

Thunder Bay's CNIB chapter has 45 volunteers and has about 1,450 clients.