About CHN

“The healthy social life is found when, in the mirror of each human soul, the community can find its reflection, and when, in the community, the virtue of each one is living.”

—Rudolf Steiner, 1920

Our History

The Canada Homestay Network is a family-run, non-profit society. Over the years we’ve served tens of thousands of students from more than seventy countries, individually and in groups, aged 10 to 75. Homestay Toronto Limited (HTL) was founded by the Wilson family in 1995. Canada Homestay International was launched in 2000, to focus on the experience of international high school students and groups.

We now manage programs in over forty communities across Canada, from Charlottetown to Victoria. In any successful and growing organization, people make the difference. Our team is comprised of individuals dedicated to supporting one another. When you work with CHN, you work with a network of homestay professionals. Our combined experience of matching tens of thousands of students over the last 20 years lends our whole team the credibility and expertise that has earned us a reputation for excellence and professionalism that is unmatched in our industry.

The result: more informed and reasonable expectations; and through timely access to qualified resources, more confidence, more patience and less anxiety for everyone involved.

Social Responsibility

Our Corporate Social Responsibility campaign is focused on three areas: responsible energy usage, minimal impact on our environment, and positive social contributions to our communities.

The Canada Homestay Network has grown from a small family business in Toronto into the leading private Homestay placement agency in Canada. The growth of both our clientele and our host network comes almost entirely from word-of-mouth referrals. We believe these referrals are a direct result of our brand promise: we are a company that cares. Our policies and day-to-day decisions and efforts stem from our values-based leadership and an intrinsic interest in doing “the right thing”. We invite you to learn more about our values here.

We started down this path by striving to offer the kind of care and service that we would want for our own children if they were studying abroad. Today, our views on what it means to be a responsible corporate citizen include more than how we treat our students – they include how we manage our energy consumption; how we reduce our overall environmental impact; and how we enhance our contribution to the lives of our host families, staff, clients, and broader communities where we work and live.

Energy

CHN has a number of initiatives in place to minimize energy usage and ensure that as much as possible of the energy that we do use is coming from renewable sources. For example, our head office is Bullfrog powered. This means that all of the electricity used to power the office comes from clean and renewable energy sources like wind and solar farms, with the help of clean energy provider Bullfrog Power.

In addition, we encourage our hosts and staff to use energy efficient lighting systems, HVAC systems, and appliances in their homes. We offer education and resources through local hydro companies to educate our hosts on reducing their energy and water consumption. As discussed on our environment page, CHN is a virtual company with all of our employees working out of their home offices for most of the work-week. Our one corporate car is a shiny new 100% electric Nissan Leaf. And since this car’s electric charging station is located at our head office in Victoria, all of the electricity the car uses comes from renewable sources too!

Environment

Our company has always been virtual. This means no offices, which reduces commuting, material use, and energy consumption. It also means we are committed to doing everything we can electronically first, and using paper only when it is necessary. We recently initiated a project to transfer all of our host records to an electronic format, and we are proud to say that as of 2012, we have completely eliminated 100% of our paper-based filing system. All of our fax machines convert faxes to emails, and we encourage new hosts to download e-copies of our host guides and agreements. When we do use paper, we are committed to sourcing 100% recycled paper from companies like Cascades.

We try to avoid unnecessary travel. We encourage our staff and hosts to carpool when they are driving, and hold Zipcar or CarShare accounts in the major urban centers where we work to allow staff to avoid purchasing a car, or to use a hybrid vehicle without buying one. We hold our biweekly company training sessions by webinar, and conduct most of our regular staff meetings using telecommuting software. We gather as an entire organization just once every two years, and choose locations that require the least amount of air travel for the greatest number of employees. We also donate our used computers to charities like the Aboriginal Mother Centre Society in Vancouver, or recycle any non-donatable machines with an electronics recycling program.

Social

Our team is proud to work in an industry that, by its very nature, is good for our communities. We believe we are making the world a better place by breaking down walls of xenophobia and cultural ignorance. After all, a guiding principle of our work is that we as humans have much more in common with one another than we have differences.

We show this pride in our annual donations to causes that align with our work and mission. Recently we have donated to:

  • World Literacy Canada – their work in promoting literacy is second to none, and aligns well with the educational component of our programs.
  • Hunger Response International – HRI’s dual focus on educating youth on the realities of world hunger and feeding the needy in Canada and abroad also fits well with our work.
  • Habitat for Humanity – Of course, there is no homestay without homes. Habitat for Humanity does so much excellent work around the world in providing homes for those who need them.

Our Ottawa team began participating in the Relay for Life in 2013 and plans to continue supporting this cause every year.

Over the years, we have also helped community organizations such as Katimavik find host families for their volunteer-based program by reducing or waiving our fees.

We believe in the power of online communities as well – as a virtual organization, we live each day in a virtual environment and see firsthand the value of connecting in today’s online world. In 2011, we launched Canada’s first online host discussion forum – a place where hosts support hosts, from coast to coast, on every imaginable hosting topic and challenge. Join the discussion by clicking here.

Last but not least, we are involved with our contemporaries, clients, and colleagues in the Homestay and International Education industries to work toward strengthening the standards around this important work. We believe in what we are doing, and so we believe it should be done right! As a learning organization, we believe strongly in the value of education and networking. We are regular sponsors of industry conferences and other events hosted by Canada’s leading organizations committed to strengthening the best practices in International Education, such as Languages Canada, The Canadian Association of Public Schools – International (CAPS-I), and the British Columbia Council for International Education (BCCIE).

Get in touch