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CICan’s 50th Anniversary


We are incredibly proud of all that our association has been able to achieve over the past fifty years. The following timeline offers a fascinating look at notable events in CICan’s (formerly ACCC) history that helped define the association we are today.


The National Commission for the Community College in Canada (CCCC) is formed with the purpose of investigating the feasibility of a national organization to represent colleges, cegeps, and institutes in Canada


The CCCC hosts a Colleges Assembly in November, which votes overwhelmingly for the creation of the Association of Canadian Community Colleges.


  • The ACCC hosts its Constitution Conference in October. The Association’s by-laws are formally approved, giving the ACCC legal status. The ACCC is officially in operation.
  • Alan Goldenberg becomes the association’s first President and CEO.


  • ACCC’s National Office moves from Vanier College in Montreal to Centennial College in Toronto. The National Office would remain in Toronto until 1992
  • Approximately 300 delegates attend the Annual Conference in Quebec.


60% of all non-university post-secondary institutions in Canada are full members of the ACCC.


“College Canada ‘75” Annual Conference is hosted in Vancouver, with almost 1000 delegates in attendance


  • ACCC immediately establishes itself as an advocacy organization, making a formal representation through the Study of Education Policy in Canada to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development.
  • The ACCC organizes study abroad trips to Israel, UK, Tanzania, Kenya, Ghana, US.
  • The ACCC receives critical funding through the Kellogg Foundation under “PROJECT BREAKTHROUGH” and establishes the Canadian Studies Bureau, the International Bureau, ACCC’s quarterly publication, COLLEGE CANADA, and a series of mini conferences.


Total college enrollment across Canada surpasses total university enrollment for the first time.


  • ACCC receives confirmation from the Secretary of State of a grant of $325 000 per year for three years. The Canadian Studies Office launches its full operations in the next year.
  • ACCC submits funding request to CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency) for $196 000 to expand and maintain the International Bureau


  • 1979 marks the first year of full-scale operations for both our Canadian Studies division and the International Bureau.
  • The Kellogg Foundation recognizes CICan as “the national leader for the community college movement in Canada.”


ACCC’s International Bureau receives more than 2000 requests for services.


  • ACCC’s Canadian Studies Office opens a Regional Office in Quebec on February 1 to better connect with Quebec’s CEGEPS and institutes.
  • The Department of National Defence invites the ACCC to nominate a candidate for a senior postgraduate program examining national and international security and development at the National Defence College in Kingston. This begins a long partnership with the Department of Defence and Canadian Armed Forces.


  • In June, ACCC’s new constitution was unanimously approved by the Annual General Meeting and officially ratified by the Ministry of Consumer and Corporate Affairs
  • The International Office adds 9 new projects to its portfolio. There were 120 programmes in 17 sectors in Canadian community colleges that were available to support colleagues in developing countries.
  • At the request of the Chinese government and funded by the Canadian federal government, the International Bureau begins to support the development of a management training school in the Sichuan province of China.


  • One-third of the funding for the Canadian Studies Bureau is devoted to supporting activities in Quebec.
  • The International Bureau launches the Francophone African Programme in Cameroon and Morocco with a “comprehensive programme of technical assistance.”
  • The 1983 Annual Joint Conference enjoys the largest attendance in the history of the ACCC so far, with 1015 paid registrants.


  • The Council of Ministers of Education (CMEC) invites the ACCC to meet its Liaison Committee in March to establish collaboration with the CMEC and to stress the need for future cooperation.
  • The International Bureau launches its first multi-institutional partnership with the Harambee Institutes in Kenya
  • The International Bureau’s budget reaches $3.5 million and is projected to grow to $7 million the following year. ACCC begins looking at funding opportunities with the World Bank and Asian Development Bank.


  • By March 31, the ACCC officially crosses the three-digit threshold with 105 members
  • ACCC notes an undeniable growth in the research activities of college professors across Canada and urges NSERC (National Sciences and Engineering Research Council) to consider funding college-level research
  • The Canadian Job Strategy is announced. Colleges and institutes must now compete with the private sector for federal funding for training programs.
  • CIDA submits their formal review of the International Bureau. The report is positive, indicating the long-term sustainability of the Association’s numerous projects.


  • The ACCC expands its Francophone programming with a $10M contract in Cameroon for policy evaluation and plans to expand programming between French-speaking institutes in Canada and regions such as the Maghreb, the Sahel, West Africa, and Cameroon.
  • College Arts 1986: The first nationwide visual arts competition for community college students in Canada attracts over 4000 submissions from 65 ACCC member institutions.
  • Tom Norton becomes President and CEO.


The National Forum on Post-Secondary Education is hosted by the Secretary of State in Saskatoon. Colleges and institutes take their rightful place beside the Universities as major contributors to national education and human resources development priorities.


CICan co-sponsors a study surveying 300 college faculty members on their interest and capacity to conduct research. Respondents identified 286 ideas for research projects and 88% of respondents expressed a desire to pursue these projects.


  • Approximately 500 000 students are enrolled in colleges and institutes across Canada.
  • ACCC staff working at the China Enterprise Training Management Training Centre in Chengdu are evacuated back to Canada following the protests in Tiananmen Square


  • The Canada-China Women in Development project enters the final stages of development. It focuses on strengthening the institutional capability of the All-China Women Federation to enable Chinese women to participate in economic development
  • The ACCC begins twinning partnerships with American colleges to “focus [US and Canadian] attention on a shared international responsibility for the environment”
  • The first ACCC Award Program is launched, recognizing innovation, excellence, and leadership within Canada’s colleges and institutes. CICan continues to deliver its Awards of Excellence to this day.


  • A 2-day consultation of the ACCC’s Environmental Task Group on environmental initiatives is undertaken by various levels of governments, colleges, and institutes
  • ACCC co-sponsors the “World Congress for Education and Communication on Environment and Development.”
  • ACCC launches the $10.9 million Canada-India Institutional Cooperation Project, partnering 25 Indian polytechnics with Canadian institutions for curricular and pedagogical development.
  • ACCC hosts the inaugural President’s Academy to support the development of a strong cadre of leaders in the college sector.


  • The ACCC Secretariat relocates from Toronto to Ottawa to facilitate its advocacy efforts and build fruitful relationships with the federal government and other national organizations
  • The International department manages more than 200 programs in 60 different countries
  • The ACCC Green Guide, which highlights environmental initiatives taken by different colleges and institutes, is unveiled at the ACCC Environment Consultation in October.


  • The new ACCC Environmental Policy is added to ACCC’s Mission Statement, embedding environmental considerations into all future development of programs, curricula and other initiatives.
  • Industry Canada taps ACCC to administer a $25 million, 4-year Canada Scholars in Technology scholarship program for outstanding students who demonstrated potential in the technology sector.
  • ACCC submits position paper to the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples, detailing the extensive damages done to Indigenous communities as a direct result of colonialism.


  • The Canadian College Partnership Program (CCPP), which administers programs under CIDA’s Bilateral Division is established, with ACCC directing international activities and resources to the African, Asian, and Americas regions.
  • The Association launches its first website at


The Student Connections Program launches in collaboration with Industry Canada, HRDC, and the Association of Universities and Colleges. The program hires college students to deliver computer, Internet, and e-business trainings to small and medium-sized enterprises


  • The Canada Foundation for Innovation is established in April 1997, with $800 million in research. As a direct result of the Association’s active and committed advocacy, colleges and institutes are included as eligible institutions
  • The ACCC celebrates its 25th anniversary.
  • ACCC is the first national educational membership organization to obtain ISO 9002, testifying to its excellent and consistent service quality.


Gerry Brown becomes President and CEO of ACCC. He starts his mandate just as an historic ice storm hits Eastern Canada.


In another example of innovation and global leadership, ACCC proposes the formation of the World Federation of Colleges (WFCP) and hosts its inaugural Congress in Quebec in 1999.


  • ACCC launches the Corporate Alliance Program to develop mutually beneficial partnerships between the ACCC network of colleges and institutes and a select number of corporate partners
  • CIDA approves the Canadian College Partnership Program for a second phase.


A new pilot project with the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council launches, which allows colleges and institutes to apply directly for research grants for the first time.


ACCC’s governance structure is revised into a streamlined 12-member Board of college presidents to be better prepared for strategic leadership.


  • ACCC hosts its first Indigenous Education symposium at Burns Lake, bringing together Elders, Chiefs, Council Members, industry partners, and government representatives to discuss the unique needs of Indigenous learners.
  • On Feb 1, 2006, ACCC launches two new projects in Essential Skills, funded by Human Resources and Social Development Canada.
  • The Association develops the Canadian-US Alliance of Rural Colleges.
  • ACCC launched a successful awareness-building campaign about the role of colleges and institutes with notable media partners such as The Globe and Mail, Macleans magazine, Canadian Business, and The Hill Times


  • The Canadian Immigration Integration Project (CIIP) launches in China, India, and the Phillipines, preparing immigrants to better integrate into Canadian society by providing orientation, training and contacts before their departure
  • Empower One Thousand Women – Education, Citizenship, and Sustainable Development Project launches 4-year partnership between ACCC and the Brazilian Ministry of Education and their own association of polytechnics (CONIF) to “develop support services and training to provide disadvantaged women with access to the workforce.”
  • The new “Education for Employment” framework for international development is launched.
  • ACCC and its members launch the Pan-Canadian Protocol for Sustainability to provide leadership on contributing to a sustainable future.
  • Jim Knight becomes President and CEO of ACCC.


  • Our advocacy efforts contribute to an $800 million increase in the Social Transfer for post-secondary education.
  • Following the success of the NSERC pilot project, the first competition of the Tri-Council College and Community Innovation Program is launched.
  • CICan signs a 3-year partnership in May 2008 for the Canadian Forces (CAF) Colleges Opportunity Program to accredit colleges and institutes that provide courses and programs that meet CAF training requirements.
  • ACCC & CIDA sign a new $20 million contribution agreement for the implementation of the “Education for Employment (EFE) program in Mozambique, Senegal, and Tanzania.


  • Our advocacy results in $600 million over two years for the repair, refurbishment, and expansion of college campuses.
  • HRSDC (Human Resources and Skills Development Canada) awards ACCC a contract to support the essential skills and employability of Indigenous communities, newcomers, and linguistic minorities.
  • The Student Partners Program pilot is launched in India to facilitate the visa process for international students.


  • The Minister of Citizenship, Immigration, and Multiculturalism announces plans to expand CIIP from three to 25 countries
  • Health Canada funds a new project to improve retention and success in allied health programs.


The 2011 Federal Budget doubles funding for the College and Community Innovation Program.


ACCC presents arguments to the Supreme Court on the use of copyright-protected work in instructional contexts, resulting in a landmark decision in our favour.


  • ACCC completes the three-year National Essential Skills (ES) Framework Project, funded by HRSDC, which was delivered in eight provinces by 12 colleges and nine employers.
  • Denise Amyot is appointed as CICan’s seventh and first female President and CEO.


  • The Association of Canadian Community Colleges is rebranded as Colleges and Institutes Canada (CICan) to better represent the diverse identities of its members. In addition to the new name, a new logo designed by a college student is unveiled during the annual conference, as well as a revamped corporate website.
  • CICan’s Indigenous Education Protocol for Colleges and Institutes is launched (as of 2021, 67 colleges are signatories in support of the protocol).


  • The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)are launched. Canada and 192 other nations are signatories.
  • In collaboration with CICan, the Asian Development Bank published an analysis of the lessons from the Canadian college experience that might apply to developing Asia colleges and institutes.


CICan is the intermediary in Canada’s first Essential Skills Social Financing project, in partnership with Employment and Social Development Canada.


CICan members participate in over 7300 applied research partnerships to produce more than 4400 prototypes, products, processes, and services


  • CIIP is rebranded as Planning for Canada. Online services launch worldwide, and in-person services are delivered in India and the Philippines.
  • CICan and Universities Canada jointly administer the new Global Skills Opportunity program, which provides post-secondary students with additional opportunities to study and work overseas, strengthen their global competency and enrich Canada’s economic prosperity.


  • The novel coronavirus pandemic breaks out. Colleges, institutes, and CICan pivot to deliver their high-quality services in a virtual context.
  • CICan joins the Government of Canada’s 50-30 Challenge to 50% gender parity on its board and senior management team; as well as at least 30% representation of other under-represented groups. We surpassed this objective in July 2021.
  • CICan signs the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Accord to facilitate collaboration on and delivery of the SDGs in our programming.


  • In response to the acute labour shortages exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, CICan collaborates with colleges and institutes from across the country to deliver the Supportive Care Assistant Program, a fully subsidized micro-certificate to rapidly train new long-term care workers.
  • CICan signs onto the Groningen Declaration, which strives for international cooperation in fair credential recognition, student data mobility, and data privacy.
  • CICan represents approximately 95% of all publicly supported Canadian colleges and institutes.