Brain Injury Society of Toronto

Brain Injury Society of Toronto


BIST’s mission is to enhance the quality of life for people in the City of Toronto, living with the effects of Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) through education, awareness, support, and advocacy. We are focused on providing a safe space for persons with brain injury and their families to connect, socialize and learn. We are also invested in supporting the most marginalized in our community through our homelessness, poverty and intimate partner violence initiatives. We are an agency committed to partnerships and being a voice for change and as such we are involved in projects and committees related to ABI and the justice system, as well as sitting on the Toronto Police Disabilities Consultative Committee and two Focus Tables (Focus Tables are a City of Toronto, United Way Toronto and Toronto Police Service initiative that aims to reduce risk, harm, crime, victimization and improve community resiliency and wellbeing).

  • Frank Bruno says:

    Total awesomeness and commitment plus dedication

  • A. L. says:

    BIST has helped me recover from a concussion with individual and group support, community events and educational materials. It operates on a shoestring but punches way above its weight in service delivery and support for Torontonians with brain injuries. BIST’s thoughtful programming by committed staff and volunteers daily improves the quality of life for its members and their families.

  • Mary Lou Jorgensen-Bacher says:

    I have belonged to this “community” for about 16 years time. (?) I had a brain haemorrhage, 1974 – with severe consequences – I was unconscious for 8 weeks time, and in hospital for 7 months.

    I was also an honours student in Gr. 13, when it occurred on a “retreat”, with Fr. Terry Gallagher.

    I have worked for the MINISTRY of LABOUR for 29.3 years time, doing photocopying, faxing, binders, distributing of materials and supplies.

    BIST has been a GREAT PLACE to go after work – I have felt very much welcome here. IT HAS BEEN A WELCOMING place! PLEASE LET THIS GROUP become a “star”!!!!!

  • Elizabeth MacGregor says:

    This is an organization that never stops supporting people with brain injuries. They are a group that offers hope and a place for growth to take place. They are creative in their approach, especially during these difficult times, reaching out to those of us who are involved with them, never letting us feel alone or ignored. A very kind, impressive group.

  • Rachel Shackleton says:

    The support is outstanding.

  • Karol says:

    BIST is a great place to connect with people who understands what we are going through. They have different activities that we can join and relax.
    Our best activity is the superhero walk where we can get the whole family involved and enjoyed the day outdoors. Thank you BIST for always being there when we need you. Thank you for the people behind it.

  • Linda Levy says:

    Great organization, always supportive.

  • Jasmine Sihra says:

    BIST is wonderful! As a volunteer I’ve seen how hard they work for their members. Truly inspiring 🙂

  • Jo-Anne Butler says:

    They helped so many people to get back to living full lives!

  • Beverlee Melamed says:

    Congrats BIST on this well deserved and appropriate award nomination! I have been a volunteer with BIST since it’s beginning. I am so proud of the work done, the great networking, reaching out to individuals and groups, families, companies….. Always with care and compassion in the implementation!

  • Jill Barnes says:

    Very helpful & enjoying online zoom groups during Pandemic

  • Christiane Kokko says:

    BIST is the best organization and so friendly. I have only good things to say about them. Flexible program, excellent support from every angles. The management team were instrument in my recovery to the workforce as a caregiver of an BIST family member. I value all activities organized as they are well done and focused on the cause. Their business model works very well. Always there to help and improve the quality of life of people affected by this condition and also the caregivers. Well done team!

  • Robin says:

    Having been with BIST for nearly 3 years, I have learned there is never time to be idle. In fact, BIST has shown me that there is plenty that can be done in supporting ABI survivors/thrivers. From co-facilitating programs and support groups to writing grant proposals, to providing 1:1 resource support and consultation, to increasing public awareness and education. 
    BIST constantly engages in reviewing and brainstorming sessions to strategize ways that programs and services can better meet BIST members’ needs. For instance, the present Women’s Support Group sprung from academic research, observations, and testimonials from BIST members that indicated a need for a designated space for women experiencing intimate partner violence to meet and access support.
    I have also witnessed BIST’s willingness to change and go beyond their current capacity to meet and accommodate BIST members’ needs. The constant expansion of their team with students and frontline practitioners alike, the broadening of their services with action initiatives to address homelessness, poverty, transitions, and intimate partner violence are a testament to BIST’s continual work in enhancing the quality of lives amongst those living with an ABI.
    I have been with BIST as a student, volunteer, and now, staff. BIST is an organization that is incredibly supportive of and responsive to the ABI population. The more time I spent with BIST, the more I found myself developing a profound fondness and admiration for their passion, advocacy, and support of the ABI population. Their nomination for this award is much deserved. 

  • Johnny says:

    The work BIST does is vital to a segment of the population that is often overlooked. BIST staff are compassionate and do an incredible job with very limited resources.

  • Jenn Bowler says:

    BIST is an exceptional service provider to the brain injury community. The programs and services are varied and vast and truly meet so many gaps and needs in the ABI community. Beyond existing programs, BIST is always thinking ahead to areas of need not met and developing new initiatives and supports. They have really courageously and competently embraced the virtual program world considering the unexpected arrival of Covid and as a result, they are still able to creatively support so many of their service users. The staff at BIST are dedicated and hard working and go above and beyond to support and advocate for their ABI clients. Well deserved nomination, BIST!

  • Jenna Fleming says:

    BIST is truly a unique organization in so many ways. Their staff members hold a level of dedication, respect and compassion that far exceeds any organization that I have come across. They take collaboration to a whole new level but ensuring that community members are involved in all aspects of the planning of programs and services, and ensure that their needs, and wants are at the forefront. They are constantly working on creating societal change from the micro to macro levels to try to extinguish the barriers that have been created for members. BIST is so well deserving of this nomination.

  • John Groe says:

    Enough can’t be said about this organization. The BIST has been a leader in the provision of services and resources for survivors and their families.

    As a provider, it has been a pleasure working with and supporting the BIST over the years.

    Nomination well deserved.

  • zem says:

    I had some difficulties that I couldn’t do it by myself. I really appreciated their kindness and being thoughtful. I wish, I knew this organization at least 3 years ago.

  • Zem says:

    Thanks BIST for providing such opportunities for whoever needs help. Especial thanks to Laura lbellon, she makes whatever is complicated, easy for you.

  • Catherine Wiseman-Hakes says:

    I cannot say enough about BIST and Melissa Vigar and her team. They work tirelessley and wth compassion and humour to support individuals with brain injury across the GTA and they are kind, dedicated and go above and beyond. It is a privilege to endorse them as Brain Injury Society of the Year.

  • Anita O'Keefe & Anne-Marie DePape says:

    I am the Field Placement Specialist at Mohawk College for the Brain Disorder Management program. Dr. Anne-Marie DePape is the Coordinator of this program. Anne-Marie and I have had the pleasure of working with Melissa and the staff of BIST for the past few years. When we launched this new and innovative program, Melissa at BIST was kind enough to offer our students 12-week placements at BIST.

    Melissa and the BIST staff have not only provided our students with engaging placements, but with a positive learning environment rich with helping the students develop their short and long-term goals. Melissa has been very flexible with placement students and when I have been in a position where a placement has fallen through at another agency, Melissa has kindly offered to take on more of my students and she has had the ability to make these situations work without compromising other placements.

    Our students have had a very well-rounded experience at BIST over the past few years. Our students in the past have been involved in supporting programming for ABI caregivers and ABI survivors. They have also helped to increase brain injury awareness among youth through concussion education at schools in the GTA.

    We look forward to continuing this partnership with Melissa and the team at BIST. We are thrilled to be able to advocate on behalf of BIST and support their nomination of this well-deserved award.

  • Steven Solomon says:

    Melissa and all the amazing staff at BIST have been a treasured field education partner with the Ryerson University School of Social Work. As a long time faculty consultant, I can directly attest that they have provided critical field education placements for over the past three years for both our 3rd year and 4th students. My students have completed their placements at BIST with incredible skills and knowledge in the area of brain injury AND have been mentored with how a community based agency works creatively and critically to provide much needed support. I am happy to support their nomination as Brain Injury Society of the Year

  • Colleen Boyce says:

    As the Founding Chair of BIST, I am so proud of the Board, the incredible staff, volunteers and the members for all they have accomplished and achieved over the years!! Melissa, Meri, Laura and the staff are so committed and dedicated and I am in awe of their caring, compassion and outcomes! The members and the volunteers are inspiring and passionate to ensure BIST’s success. Well done to the incredible Board, staff, members and volunteers for this nomination.

  • Maxine Fyffe-Roberts says:

    I have had the pleasure of knowing and working with Melissa for over 10 years. Melissa brings a depth and range of skills from her social work and rehab case management experience that serve to enhance and enrich her Executive Director leadership role at BIST. The team at BIST provide excellent resources, services and support for individuals and families living with a brain injury. This is also highlighted by their dedicated fundraising efforts. Having worked with Melissa and Meri on the BIST 5k Heroes run, walk and roll planning committee for the past 5 years, I am thrilled to support their nomination for this award. Congrats!!

  • Kate Stewart says:

    I have had nothing but great experiences working with BIST! I initially encountered BIST through work with the Canadian Adaptive Climbing Society; BIST executive director Melissa Vigar came out to our very first volunteer training and I have since attended BIST events and hosted BIST members rock climbing. Every time I work with BIST staff and volunteers I am so impressed with their knowledge, professionalism and connection to their community. In addition to collaboration in rock climbing, I recently attended a BIST community meeting and felt immediately welcomed into the group and connected to the community. Events, fundraisers and programs are always well organized, and I have always found so much value in the programming. Regardless of the nature of the event, every attendee is well supported and the experience and training of facilitators is evident. I look forward to attending more events!

  • Taliesin says:

    BIST has been a crucial support for my husband who is a ABI survivor and myself as a caregiver. As an artist, i’ve also been so impressed with BIST’s commitment to integrating arts and healing and was thrilled to partner with them for a performance we created, Brainstorm, which dealt with living with a brain injury. Their support and collaboration was meaningful and so rewarding.

  • Michael Jarvis says:

    BIST is a fantastic organization that deserves to be recognized for all the hard work that they do to better the lives of community members. My organization works with BIST as one of our community partners. We refer client’s to the Transitional Support Coordinator who has been fantastic in supporting our client’s excel to achieve specific goals to better their lives on all levels. Toronto needs more great organizations likes BIST.

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