Behavioural Health Foundation History

From our humble beginnings in British Columbia  as a self-sustaining community seeking a better way of life, to the more than 20,000 people we have supported to date, Behavioural Health Foundation has made a steadfast commitment to quality care and innovative programs for individuals with histories of addictions and co-occurring mental health issues, for over 50 years.

As the years have gone by, Behavioural Health Foundation has evolved from a small grassroots organization to the highly impactful nonprofit it is today.

Decades of Impact

Through the power of therapeutic community, Behavioural Health Foundation has changed the lives and hopes of thousands of individuals with addictions and co-occurring mental health issues throughout Manitoba, as well as their families and the communities in which they live.


The roots of the organization go back to British Columbia in the late 1960’s when a group of men newly released from federal prison decided to come together to find a healthier way of living. The group expanded to include men, women and whole families, choosing the name X-Kalay (meaning The Unknown Path) and forming a self-sustaining community “based on the belief that no one is an island unto themselves”, that we all have something to teach and something to learn from one another. The BC community would close within a few years but by then a small group had come to Manitoba, setting down firm roots for the Therapeutic Community we now know as BHF.


The 1970s were a decade of important change for Behavioural Health Foundation. It was in July 1971 that those five X-Kalay members drove here from BC, rented a house on Montrose St., and began to introduce themselves and their philosophy to Winnipeggers. Within months they were running out of space and were happy to accept the opportunity to move into the three-storey brick building at 3514 Pembina Highway that formerly housed the Oblate Fathers. The original section of this complex dates from 1903, and was first a private home and then an orphanage, while the larger north section was built in 1911.

1977-The organization reached 100,000 “clean living days”



Through the 1980’s the organization worked to bring the residence to modern standards of comfort and safety, while developing new staff positions and increasing programs. During this time, the organization made name change. The name X-Kalay was changed  to the St. Norbert Foundation, acknowledging our connection to the local neighbourhood.

1989-The organization established a licensed on-site day care


The 1990s were a period of relative stability as the organization flourished from the changes it made in the last decade.  A final name change also occurred during this time to emphasize the programs we offer. The original small-scale farm and woodworking business have disappeared. We have added a skating rink, an adult education centre, daycare and classroom spaces for our children, and a second residence to accommodate women who prefer a gender-specific milieu. In the early 1990’s, with the support and teachings of Elders Henry Shingoose and Dave Courchene, we dedicated a section of the property as sacred grounds for traditional Indigenous sweats, teachings, and ceremonies, an integral part of mental health and addiction treatment.

1993– The organization became the first Canadian treatment centre to earn CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities)

1994 – First Pow Wow was organized

1996 – The organization makes its final name change, settling on the name it’s known for today: Behavioural Health Foundation, Inc.


The 2000s marked an era of expansion for Behavioural Health Foundation, as services expanded.

2005 – Behavioural Health Foundation begins Wier Scholarship in honour of Lorne and Geri Weir whose 35 years of dedication and hard work were essential to BHF surviving and thriving as an effective organization

2010 – Present

The Behavioural Health Foundation continues to strive for excellence, programming, celebrating the courage and hard work of all our members as we work together for a healthier future.

2021 – The organization celebrates its golden anniversary – 50 years of providing quality care and innovative programs for individuals with addictions and co-occurring mental health problems.


Support the Future

Behavioural Health Foundation provides programming  based on wholistic treatment in a therapeutic community. Thousands of lives have been positively impacted but the need continues. We are grateful for the  corporate, community and individual contributions, that help sustain this work. Support our future and help us continue our mission by donating  to support BHF.