BC CRN Spotlight: Ken Kuhn, Regional Mentor, Fraser Valley West

BC CRN’s team of Regional Mentors helps communities establish Community Response Networks (CRNs). Mentors provide ongoing local support in the coordination of responses to abuse, neglect, and self-neglect, and community development initiatives. Some Mentors are also community development partners who collaborate with local agencies and organizations to respond to the needs of the people.

Ken in the classroom. (Photo: K. Kuhn)

Ken Kuhn is a retired schoolteacher and the Regional Mentor for the Fraser Valley West region, which includes the Lower Mainland communities of the Tri-Cities (Coquitlam, Port Coquitlam, and Port Moody) where Ken currently lives, Maple Ridge, New Westminster, and Burnaby.

His first exposure to the scams targeting seniors was on a visit with his aging father. Ken was teaching at the time, and he made the 600+ km drive (one way) from Coquitlam to Nelson and back regularly to care for him. One day, while searching for a friend’s contact information, Ken noticed several entries in his father’s chequebook made out to various lotteries in amounts ranging from $50 to $100.

“When I asked him about it, he denied any kind of wrongdoing. After I told him about how scams worked, my dad admitted he wanted to be a million-dollar winner. He was hopeful he would win one day,” Ken says.

He also saw that several of the neighbours also received “lottery” mail daily, sometimes collecting up to 20 or 30 pieces at a time.

Ken’s father passed away six years ago at the age of 91. Ken wrote and submitted an editorial that ran in the Vancouver Sun and Province about seniors and scams, sharing his personal story with the hope it would help others become more aware of how scammers work, and how easily they can empty a senior’s bank account.


Ken grew up in Nelson, BC. When he graduated high school, he moved to the Lower Mainland to study at the University of British Columbia.

(Photo: K. Kuhn)

He took pre-med courses, such as physiology and biochemistry, and was looking at a career in medicine before a serious injury changed his plans. While playing in a hockey game, Ken suffered a severe head injury that landed him in the hospital for several weeks. “I went headfirst into the boards and woke up in Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver,” he says.

During recovery, Ken spent some time re-evaluating his future plans. “I shadowed doctors and talked to other medical professionals about their work,” he explains. “After some thought, I decided that I didn’t want to go into medicine anymore. It just wasn’t for me.”

After completing a Bachelor of Science degree, Ken continued onto graduate school, earning an MBA before entering management consulting. “I was in my early twenties and consulting in the forestry, mining, and postal industries,” he explains. “I was way too young to be advising company leaders on how to improve their companies. After a couple of years, I decided to try something else. The corporate culture wasn’t a fit for me.”

Teaching and community work, however, were things he was keen to do.

Ken went back to school to acquire a teaching certificate. He was quickly offered a permanent position at Centennial Secondary, the largest high school in BC at the time with 2,000 grade 11 and 12 students entering its doors every day during the school year.

He taught business education courses, such as accounting, marketing, and entrepreneurship. Ken was also able to share his love of team sports by coaching in Centennial’s volleyball and cross-country programs. In the community, he returned to hockey, coaching AAA Midget hockey and refereeing leagues in the Tri-Cities, Burnaby, New Westminster, and Maple Ridge.

Ken also returned to post-secondary school for one last round, this time studying out of the University of Oregon to earn a Master of Science degree.


(Photo: K. Kuhn)

Sometime in the middle of his teaching career, Ken was offered the chance to work in school administration. He declined, opting to teach elementary and middle school instead. (He was also able to coach middle school swim and ski teams, as well as boys’ basketball, volleyball, and golf.) “There’s a big difference between grade six and grade 11 and12 students,” he explains. “I had an opportunity to experiment and change the way I taught.”

He spoke passionately about a curriculum he co-wrote with a teacher colleague called Expanding Your Horizons World Tour, which was a new approach to teaching sixth-grade students. Rather than having, say, Science, English, and Social Studies as separate topics, they were integrated into a seamless experience where students learned through different activities that took place inside and outside the classroom.

After teaching this program for five years, Ken was invited to be the grade 8 team leader at a newly opened middle school in Coquitlam. After two years in the middle school system and in the final decade of his career, Ken returned to high school, teaching business education courses at Terry Fox Secondary in Port Coquitlam.

Meanwhile, the success of the Expanding Your Horizons World Tour program did not go unnoticed: it garnered national recognition and was presented with a Hilroy Award for Innovation in Education.


(Photo: K. Kuhn)

Ken now focuses his attention on seniors instead of kids, doing whatever he can to bring older adults together and to educate them on the community resources and supports that are available to help.

His entry into the BC CRN was gradual. He started as the coordinator for the Tri-Cities CRN in 2015, and two years later, he became the successor to then Regional Mentor Christine Spinder.

He is also the Executive Director of the Tri-Cities Seniors’ Action Society whose mandate is to be the “voice of seniors in the Tri-Cities”. There, he leads initiatives to promote the development of age-friendly communities in the Tri-Cities.

(View a recent interview on TriCities’ TV to hear more from Ken.)

He is particularly passionate about senior vaccinations and regularly presents on the topic of vaccines for Shingles, Pneumonia, DTaP (Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis), and High Dose Influenza to promote awareness in the seniors’ community and healthy aging.


Ken found ways to safely offer resources and programs to seniors, despite the pandemic. He created a delivery program where volunteers were partnered with seniors who required assistance with grocery shopping, medication pick-up, and transportation to appointments.

“I sent emails through my distribution lists and made phone calls, inviting people to ask for help or to help others,” Ken says. “Within two days I had 75 volunteers ready to help seniors. The need was high.”

He also produced, and continues to produce, the Staying Connected newsletter, a monthly publication containing senior resources, events, and programs. (View the May and April issues, Ken’s most recent.)

In the delivery program’s first three months, it grew considerably, offering many more services to help seniors with their activities of daily living. “Physical distancing and isolation were difficult for so many,” he continues.

(The program was eventually decommissioned in May 2022 when the United Way implemented a similar program.)

As a result of the program’s success, Ken will also be receiving accolades from the City of Port Moody later this Spring in recognition of his contribution to the community.


The Tri-City CRN’s drive-through information booth from World Elder Abuse Awareness Day 2021 at LaFarge Lake in Coquitlam. (Photo: K. Kuhn)

Currently, Ken is ramping up a major event to take place on June 8 called Pathways to Better Health Forum. The forum is funded by the Government of Canada’s New Horizons Grant, the Tri-Cities Seniors’ Action Society, and the Tri-Cities Community Response Network (CRN).

Seniors are invited to learn more from panels of experts that include doctors, pharmacists, community developers, service providers, and the former Deputy Minister of Health from Alberta. The daylong program includes a workshop on adult abuse education and prevention by Ken, as well as presentations and exhibitors representing seniors’ vaccinations, transportation, falls prevention, and healthy aging. Food trucks will also be on-site and all participants will receive a food voucher. “The event is free for anyone who wants to come, and lunch is on us,” says Ken.

On June 15, Ken and the Tri-Cities CRN team will be at LaFarge Lake Park in Coquitlam, hosting a drive-through information booth and gift bag pick-up for World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

“This will be the fourth straight year we’ve set this up for the community,” he says. “People can also expect to see the municipal buildings in the Tri-Cities, Burnaby, and Maple Ridge lit up in purple.”

(Purple is the official colour of WEAAD with the iris as the official flower of the day.)

If you are in the area on either of these dates, be sure to say hello to Ken and ask about what else he is up to. He always has something on the go.

Written by: Debbie Chow, Links Communication Solutions. Follow Debbie on LinkedIn @debbiechowabc.

(Header Photo: Ken receiving a Community Champion award from MP Ron McKinnon (Coquitlam-Port Coquitlam). Source: K. Kuhn)

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