The Canadian Hero Fund was founded in 2009 by students and recent graduates at the University of Toronto who were deeply affected by the increasing number of Canadian casualties in Afghanistan and the young families they left behind. As university students, the founders understood the benefits of post-secondary education and felt the best way they could help these families was to provide the same opportunities to the dependents of fallen Canadian soldiers. The initial project of the Canadian Hero Fund is therefore to provide post-secondary scholarships to the children and spouses of fallen Canadian soldiers.
The Canadian Hero Fund aims to be more than just a charity: it seeks to build a national movement of support for military personnel and their families. As a student-based initiative, the Fund began by creating an online network of other students and young people across the country. The Canadian Hero Fund’s initial website was a tribute site to Canadian soldiers killed in the Afghanistan conflict, which received over 100,000 visitors, many of whom were asking how they could get involved and help the families. The organization then turned its efforts to fundraising for its scholarship fund.
The Canadian Hero Fund’s online following has grown consistently and now counts thousands of Canadians nationwide. In December 2009, the Fund officially launched a fundraising and media campaign and attracted national attention from mainstream media outlets. The Canadian Hero Fund has since been featured in interviews on national radio and television broadcasts. Throughout its traditional and social media marketing campaigns, the Canadian Hero Fund has had a consistent message for the public: get involved. While the organization’s charitable mandate is to fund support programs for military families, its civic purpose is to raise awareness for the sacrifice that Canadian Forces personnel make every day and to be the grassroots outlet of civilian support for soldiers and their families. By organizing fundraising events and by joining the online movement, ordinary Canadians are demonstrating their care for military families through action.