Who We Are


Founded by war veteran John Counsell in 1945, the Canadian Paraplegic Association (now Spinal Cord Injury Canada) began its work from an office in Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens and sought to improve the lives of soldiers returning from war with spinal cord injuries. Prior to World War II, most people died shortly after a spinal cord injury, and the survivors had few options beyond a veteran’s hospital or a nursing home, neither of which were properly equipped.

In the decades since, Spinal Cord Injury Canada has been a part of substantial change that has helped individuals with spinal cord injury and other disabilities from coast to coast.

With a “peers helping peers” mandate, the organization now has branches in every province. In Alberta, Pierre Gariepy, another survivor of WWII combat and member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, took up the charge. On February 13, 1961 the Canadian Paraplegic Association Alberta  was established. In 2011, we celebrated our 50th Anniversary, followed by the adoption of our new name—Spinal Cord Injury Alberta—to better reflect the population we serve.

The need for services for those with spinal cord injury and other physical disabilities is as important today as it was in 1945. In fact, this need will continue to grow.

SCI Alberta Today

In 2010, there were an estimated 86,000 survivors of SCI in Canada with approximately 4,300 additional new injuries each year. In Alberta, there was an estimated additional 186 new spinal cord injuries in 2010.  It is estimated that by 2030, the number of Canadians living with spinal cord injury is expected to climb to 121,000 due to the aging of the Canadian population and more injuries occurring as a result of falls.

SCI Alberta’s Mission Statement is:

To empower persons with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities to achieve Independence and full Community Participation.

SCI Alberta strives to achieve its mission and provide the best service possible through a focus on five core service areas which include:

  • Client Support and Service Coordination
  • Community Development and Systemic Change
  • Peer Program
  • Information Services
  • Active Living

SCI Alberta supports its clients through many challenging transitions, including relationships, sexuality, parenting, aging, recreation, education, employment, etc.

Through committee participation, SCI Alberta also assists communities to become more inclusive by creating awareness of critical issues such as accessible transportation, housing, healthcare and other supports.


The staff of Spinal Cord Injury Alberta is proud to help people with spinal cord injuries and other physical disabilities achieve independence, full community participation and optimal well being.

As a team, we are committed to empower others from point of injury to transition back into the community, through to aging with a disability.

With a variety of backgrounds, we respond innovatively to the complex needs of persons with SCI, their families and the communities where they live. Many of our staff are people with spinal cord injuries or other physical disabilities. This helps us to “walk the talk” and be a trusted, compassionate partner in the fields of disability, spinal cord injury and rehabilitation.

Management Team – Edmonton Office
Shaun Dyer Chief Executive Officer
Janice Brownlee Chief Finance Officer
Guy Coulombe Information Services
Teren Clarke Volunteer
Edmonton Staff:
Kristie Coulombe CAPCC Manager
Susan Cullen Volunteer Coordinator
Roswitha Dziwenko Community Access Coordinator
Edgar Jackson Client Services Coordinator
Jill Jackson Manager – Client Services/North
Rob MacIsaac Client Services Coordinator
Perry Kootenhayoo Peer Reach Out Coordinator
Steve Crochetiere Peer Coordinator
Management Team – Calgary Office
Zahra Bhatia Manager of Programs and Services – Southern Alberta
Elysha Velji Team Lead Calgary / Community Access Coordinator


Calgary Staff:
Karol Gouschuk Community Access Coordinator
Alex Hepworth Specialized Fitness Coordinator
Lorna Shannon Specialized Fitness Coordinator
Elysha Velji Community Access Coordinator
Brandice Lorch Client Services Coordinator
Terry Tenove Peer Coordinator
Red Deer Staff:
Wanda Seifried Regional Program Coordinator


Grande Prairie Office
Mieke de Groot Regional Program Coordinator
Chris Stetsko Volunteer Coordinator (Bingo, Casino)
Lethbridge Office
St. Paul Office
Ken Kwiatkowski Regional Program Coordinator
Fort McMurray Office
Stephanie Myrick Regional Program Coordinator

Annual Report