Our Vision
We are a community of character.

Our Mission
Inspiring character, enabling leaders, influencing community.


In knowing who we are, it’s important to know who we’re not.

We are not the character police, here to judge, tied to any religious or political group or here to pressure people to be perfect. Rather, how we live out our imperfections says a lot about our character. We are not talking so much about ethics as we are talking about universal values that every person in our community can embrace and hold dear.

Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Empathy, Courage and Service have the potential to be felt at the core of every human being, no matter who you are or what your background is.

Our Job, simply put is to encourage Respect, Responsibility, Integrity, Empathy, Courage and Service in our citizens which at the end of the day leads to smart, heart-centred choices and smart, heart-centred actions. It’s that easy.


Year in Review

Download the PDF here.

Who we are

We are a grassroots character movement aimed at sparking pride and ownership in each of our community members.


How it works

Whether you are a business, school, government agency or non-profit, the basic strategy is the same: Inspire your people, Identify your shared values & Integrate your values... everywhere!

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The Abbotsford Character Council is a group of passionate community leaders that meets five times per year with the goal of finding ways to intentionally promote the identified Abbotsford character values within the community.
The elected Board of Directors meet semi-monthly.


2018 Meetings
All meetings
12pm - 1:30pm

September 13, 2018
November 8, 2018
January 10, 2019
March 14, 2019
May 9, 2019 

Board of Directors

Vijay Manuel
Head of MEI Schools

Vice Chair
Shelly Avram
RDM Lawyers LLP

Jory Smallenberg
UBC Masters Student

Bev Olfert
Executive Director
Abbotsford Youth Commission

Cameron Friesen
Mountain Elementary School

Sir James Barlow
Bell Mobility

Character Council Members

Shelly Avram*
RDM Lawyers LLP

Sir James Barlow*
Bell Mobility

Don Beer
Chief, Fire Rescue Service

Christine Bomhof
Executive Director, Abbotsford Restorative Justice

Henry Braun

Kelly Chahal
Abbotsford Community Corrections

Rob Comeau
Principal, Abbotsford Secondary School

Tanya Curtis
General Manager, Highstreet

Carla Danielsson
Assistant Superintendent, School District No. 34

Ingrid Epp
Director of Development, The Reach Gallery Museum

Carly Ferguson
Publisher, Abbotsford News

Cameron Friesen*
Principal, Prince Charles Elementary School

Shawn Good
President & CEO, Prospera Credit Union

Nova Hopkins
Graphic Designer and Faculty, University of the Fraser Valley

Shairose Jinnah
Director - Child, Youth & Family Services, Community Services

Dr. Joanne MacLean
President & Vice-Chancellor, University of the Fraser Valley

Vijay Manuel*
Head of MEI Schools

Wendy Neufeld
Executive Director, Abbotsford Community Foundation

Mike Novakowski
Staff Sgt, Abbotsford Police Department

Bev Olfert*
Executive Director, Abbotsford Youth Commission

Rhonda Pauls
Trustee, Abbotsford Board of Education

Mike Serr
Police Chief

Jatinder Sidhu
Member of Canadian Parliament

Julius Siebenga
Executive Director, Abbotsford Christian Schools

Jory Smallenberg*
UBC Student

Gina Vanderheide
Fieldhouse Brewery

*Board of Directors

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Respect • Responsibility • Integrity • Empathy • Courage • Service



Respectful people are self-disciplined and courteous, and they protect the rights and dignity of others.

I Will

  • Stand up for what I believe is right
  • Care for myself, for others and for the environment
  • Show good manners
  • Appreciate the opportunities and privileges I am offered
  • Treat others the way I would like to be treated



Taking responsibility means being accountable for your actions, your words and your obligations.

I Will

  • Admit my mistakes and make amends
  • Work diligently
  • Use resources wisely
  • Be reliable
  • Communicate clearly; listen carefully
  • Take initiative



Integrity is a commitment to honesty that is clear because actions are consistent with stated beliefs or promises. Honest, truthful, trustworthy people have integrity.

I Will

  • Do the right thing - even when no one is watching
  • Tell the truth
  • Keep confidences and honour loyalty
  • Keep promises
  • Communicate openly and respectfully


Empathy is sensing, sharing and understanding the experiences, feelings and emotions of others.

I Will

  • Seek fairness and understanding
  • Build healthy relationships
  • Carefully consider the impact of my words and actions
  • Be inclusive



Courage is the ability to face and endure what is dangerous, difficult, or painful without giving in to fear.

I Will

  • Stand up for what is right
  • Face challenges boldly; persevere through difficulties
  • Step out of my comfort zone; rise to challenges



Service is committing talents, resources, time and effort to support, guide, and enrich individuals, organizations and initiatives in the community.

I Will

  • Participate in community building activities
  • Give of myself for the benefit of others
  • Be willing to lead boldly and to follow effectively


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B.C. Schools of Character Network

Character Abbotsford is developing a network of like-minded school communities who place a high value on the character development of their students.

Youth Forum & Network Information
Visit our BC Schools of Character page for more information.

Committee Chairs
Cam Friesen, Principal, Abbotsford School District

B.C. Ministry of Education

Schools of Character

  • Have an established set of values for their school community

  • Include students, staff and parents in establishing or re-visiting their values

  • Strategically promote their values throughout the school

  • Develop ways to action their values into every day life

  • Intentionally use the language of character throughout the day

  • Involve members of their surrounding community in their character story



Character Canada Conference

Character Abbotsford plans to host its 3rd national conference in 2019 for the purpose of establishing networking opportunities for like minded leaders in Education, Business, Community Services and Municipal sectors. Conference info here.

Conference Information
Visit our Conference Page for more information

Committee Chairs
Gina Vanderheide, Fieldhouse Brewery
Bev Olfert, Executive Director Abbotsford Youth Commission

Character Dot Org, Washington DC

Endorsed by
Yonah Martin, Canadian Senator
Peter Fassbender, B.C. Minister of Education
Chuck Strahl, Former M.P. and Cabinet Minister
Peter Legge, Professional Speaker and CEO CWM
Steven Point, Former B.C. Lieutenant Governor
Ryan Walter, Stanley Cup Winner and Professional Speaker
Sophie Schmidt, Canadian Olympic Bronze Medal Winner (Women's Soccer)
James Lepp, Canadian Professional Golfer



Our History

There was a time when character development was a more intentional part of our homes, schools, workplaces, and worship centres. In the 1940s, a student could expect to receive a full report on their character development as well as their academic progress. The character development of the young people in the community was shared by all.

In the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, this focus on character development took a back seat to many other social movements, ones that were more focused on self-awareness and self-expression. The character focus that existed throughout our communities faded away.

It was in 1992 that North America began to take a turn towards a character education focus again. Various character organizations have been founded in North America with hundreds of schools, cities, and businesses of character. This movement has spread beyond the borders of North America with over 29 international cities of character already established.

In Abbotsford, the movement began in the year 2006 when the then Superintendent, School Board Chair and a Vice Principal attended York Regional District's Character Conference in Toronto, Ontario; a Canadian Community of Character. After a presentation to the Board of Education was enthusiastically embraced and fully supported, the seeds of this movement began to grow in our own community.

In 2009, the school district conducted an Assets Survey of more than 5000 students which confirmed that Abbotsford was in need of a character education initiative. Results showed that Abbotsford students were fairing slightly below continental averages in the development assets and this would require community engagement at all levels to help our students become healthy, successful, contributing members of society. As a result, a character committee was established and began working on the initiative in December, 2009.

A landmark event took place on April 26th, 2011. Spearheaded by members of the character committee, leaders from across the city of Abbotsford met to establish a common language that would guide the character movement. Following 3 hours of work, six keystones or values were agreed upon as being the foundational elements to our city. Following this milestone event, an official Abbotsford Character Council was established including members of the original character committee and representatives from key community stakeholders and organizations.

This exciting chapter began with the belief that when every adult, business, and organization teaches, models, and promotes good character, it will be reflected in our children and youth and in every part of our community.

Over the course of the next year, the Abbotsford Character Council met four times. 'Abbotsford City of Character' was established as a society, a logo was created and officially approved by the council, numerous presentations were made successfully enrolling community organizations as Community Stakeholders in the initiative. Additionally, an interim executive was affirmed including a chair, vice-chair, and 3 members-at-large. This executive group met weekly to give direction to the movement. Abbotsford City of Character also established an online presence including a website and numerous social media connections (Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, & YouTube).

In 2012/2013 four major events were launched: a Youth Forum, City of Heroes Awards Ceremony, Speaker Series hosted by the Mayor and a Leadership Summit on Character. Abbotsford City of Character was also nominated for a Fraser Valley Cultural Diversity Award and was the winner of a Promising Practices Award from Character Education Partnership in Washington, DC. This year also marked the launch of a national conference sub-committee with a mandate to establish a national society, Character Canada. A second major sub-committee took flight in the fall of 2014 with the goal of establishing a provincial network of schools: BC Schools of Character.

At the AGM in September 2014, the Character Council approved a name and logo change as well as a new strategic plan. The Board of Directors worked together to develop these additions and changes over a period of 5 months. As a result, 'Character Abbotsford' was launched!

The momentum for the character movement continues to grow in Abbotsford and beyond as citizens and organizations take on the challenge to intentionally practice and promote character daily!