Parachute’s President and CEO pays tribute to Paul Kells, who founded Safe Communities Canada and played a key role in the amalgamation that created Parachute as Canada’s national charity dedicated to injury prevention.

By Pamela Fuselli, President and CEO, Parachute

Paul Kells, one of the founders of Parachute, passed away peacefully in Halifax on Oct. 4, 2021, surrounded by his family following a two-year struggle with cancer.

Paul was the quintessential people person who believed that people will never forget how you made them feel. He often used that quote at the end of his emails.

It was in 1994, after Paul’s 19-year-old son Sean died from a workplace injury, that Paul founded Safe Communities Canada, intent on keeping young people safe at work, at home and at play. Designated Safe Communities continue today, focused on reducing injuries and creating awareness of preventability of injuries.

Paul went on to lead and champion the creation of similar organizations in other parts of the world. Paul also developed Passport to Safety, an online workplace training for youth so they are aware of their right to safety and to ask questions to ensure a safe working environment. Again, this tool was shared with other countries and has seen one million people completing this training internationally.

I met Paul around 2000 when I was working with Safe Kids Canada. Our two organizations, along with two other organizations, SMARTRISK and ThinkFirst Canada, worked collaboratively for more than 10 years before we embarked on a process that would result in the amalgamation of the four organizations into Parachute in 2012.

Make the cause of injury prevention the priority

At the start of this process, I distinctly recall our conversation about making the cause of injury prevention the priority and that was our guiding principle as we navigated the decisions required to reach our goal. We each brought strengths to this process and Paul’s passion and energy ensured that we didn’t dawdle!

According to those with experience in amalgamations, involving four organizations at the same was a rare feat, and something in which we should take pride. Safe Communities remain active across Canada and draw upon Paul’s vision of creating a community, with diverse perspectives, to come together and collaborate on the goal of a safer community for all.

Paul’s personal connections, the relationships he built over his lifetime, and his passion for making life better has touched people around the globe. Paul’s dedication to making a difference, for one person, a community or a country, is inspirational and a foundation for Parachute driving our injury prevention agenda forward. Thank you, Paul.