History of The Women's Addiction Foundation
(Formerly the Aurora Society)


The Aurora Society

The Women's Addiction Foundation had its beginnings as The Aurora Society in 1973 when Sister Emilienne Vezina (founder) purchased an old house in Vancouver to provide a haven for women in need, particularly for alcoholic women.  In 1976 the Minister of Health began to fund counselling staff. By this time, over 100 women a year were served at "Aurora House". The house became a "safe place" for providing shelter and support for women.

Over time Aurora House pioneered a feminist, holistic approach to treatment, understanding that women's addiction to alcohol and drugs is inseparable from other struggles women face including poverty, violence and exploitation. The program evolved into an intensive 6-week, 12-bed residential treatment model which became nationally recognized as a therapeutic framework aimed at the special needs of women in recovery.

In 1995, governance of the well-established, reputable program was transferred to the British Columbia's Women's Hospital and Health Centre Society (now known as the Children's and Women's Health Centre of British Columbia) where the services were expanded to include:

  • 25 residential beds,
  • a day program for 10 women per session,
  • fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) prevention programming,
  • research activities and
  • group programming on parenting, smoking and other recovery issues.

The Women's Addiction Foundation

With the governorship of the program now transferred, The Aurora Society looked to the future. Remaining true to its founder's vision, the Society became a public foundation in 1997 and was renamed The Women's Addiction Foundation.