Our History

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
– Lao-tzu


This statement truly reflects the journey from Philip Aziz Centre to Emily’s House.A story which began with one act of kindness expressed through a small community church in Toronto towards a man named Philip Aziz, who was dying of an AIDS related illness. The compassion, love, practical and spiritual support he received amidst this caring community led him to bequeath his estate to them. He requested his gift be used to establish an organization that would help others in our city struggling beneath the burden of terminal illness, specifically AIDS at that time and the stigma attached. 

Since opening its doors in 1995, Philip Aziz Centre (PAC) has continued this legacy of love, through a small professional staff team and hundreds of trained volunteers, whose commitment to delivering compassionate and skilled hospice care has helped to make a difficult life journey more meaningful and manageable for hundreds of clients and their loved ones, over the years. Within several years of supporting persons living with AIDS, PAC expanded and provided care to people living with any life-threatening illness.

Soon PAC expanded again as the special and diverse needs of the children and families that had been supported through our community hospice programs required much more than our in home volunteer visiting could offer. This need led us to expanding our services by building a children’s hospice -Emily’s House. This 10 bed hospice named in honor of one our courageous young clients, will offer integrated respite and pediatric palliative care in a professional home-like, child friendly, safe setting that is committed to optimizing quality of life.

Founding Members of Philip Aziz Centre: Gretchen Van Riesen, Bill Mugford, Dan Dempster, Rauni Salminen.
Founder of Emily's House: Rauni Salminen.

Special thanks to
Founding Board Members: Gretchen Van Riesen, Rev. Paul Burke, Willi Shillinglaw, Dr. Donna Henrikson, Vida Markic, Darren Gingras, Lee Primeau.

"Whether a life is measured in days, weeks, months or even years, children living with a life limiting illness deserve the opportunity to learn, play, develop and grow …to just be kids.  Thank you for believing with us, that when there is no cure, there is still support, compassion and care…..there is hospice."Rauni Salminen, Executive Director at Philip Aziz Centre