Hon. Vim Kochhar
Former Canadian Senator;
Founder, Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons;
Founding Chair, Canadian Helen Keller Centre
From January 29, 2010 to September 21, 2011, Vim Kochhar served in the Senate of Canada, where he was a member of the Committees on Banking, Trade and Commerce and Human Rights. He was an inaugural Trustee, Chair of the Content Committee, and team member helping to raise 167 million dollars for Winnipeg’s Canadian Museum for Human Rights which opened in 2014.
In retirement, he continues his life’s work of removing barriers, empowering and helping disabled adults to achieve equality as the full-time volunteer Chair & CEO of the Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons, an organization he founded and directs with the aid of a board. In the last 38 years, Vim has raised over $35 million to assist those with disabilities while working tirelessly to increase public awareness about the achievements and capabilities of physically disabled Canadians. He was an early pioneer and driving force behind the growth of the Canadian Paralympics. His ground-breaking work in Canada on behalf of people who are deaf-blind includes advocacy, funding and development of the Rotary-Cheshire/Canadian Helen Keller Centre, the first residence of its kind in Canada equipped for independent, barrier free living for deaf-blind adults.
The Canadian Foundation for Physically Disabled Persons mounts annual fundraisers that include the Great Valentine Gala and the Rolling Rampage on Parliament Hill for elite wheelchair athletes. Other CFPDP initiatives include the Terry Fox Hall of Fame, Canadian Disability Hall of Fame and the 1996 cross-Canada WhyNot Marathon for the Paralympics.
Vim’s work for disabled adults is solely on a non-paid, volunteer basis as his way of returning something to Canada, the country that gave him the opportunity to succeed. Born in India and educated in the United States, Vim graduated in engineering from the University of Texas and became a successful businessman and entrepreneur building structures around the world for Intercontinental Hotels. He immigrated to Canada in 1967 and became a Canadian citizen in 1974. For Bechtel, he project managed the construction of medical science buildings at the University of Toronto and at Memorial University of Newfoundland. He was also responsible for moving the historic 300-tonne Campbell House on a trolley at 500 feet per hour through Toronto streets to its
present location at Queen and University.
In 1972 he launched a business manufacturing custom-made furniture and selling it through his own chain of Early Canadian Furniture stores, which developed into a multimillion-dollar enterprise.
In addition to his work for disabled adults, Vim has long been involved with Scouts Canada, serving in various capacities and as President from 1992-1994, and with Rotary Club of Canada and Variety Village. He continues to contribute to the Senate as a director of the Canadian Association of Former Parliamentarians and the CAFP Educational Foundation.
Among his distinctions, Vim was chosen by India Abroad as one of the 30 most influential Canadians of Indian origin. CARP has listed him as one of the top 25 Canadians over 45 who have contributed to the quality of life for others and made a difference in Canada. He has been awarded the Order of Ontario; Honourary Doctor of Laws degree from York University; Ontario Medal for Good Citizenship; The Gardiner Award for Citizen of the Year, Metropolitan Toronto; the Order of Honour, Association of Professional Engineers; the Queen’s Jubilee Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Disability Hall of Fame.