AVATIL has its origins in the The Lakeshore Vocational Projects Association (LVPA). LVPA obtained its charter in 1966 with a mandate to work with individuals with mild or borderline intellectual handicaps.
Its beginnings can be traced back to 1958, when a group of committed parents led by Fay Bland, set up the Lakeshore Association of Retarded Citizens (LARC) to support the parents of handicapped children. Between the years 1967 and 1970, LVPA worked with the LARC to develop workshop services as well as a residential program for people with mild intellectual limitations. The residential program became known as the TIL project or the Training for Independent Living program. LVPA and LARC merged their resources in 1974 and became known as West Island Adaptation Services (WIAS). WIAS administered the TIL program until 1981. Mrs. Bland worked tirelessly for over four decades on the Board of AVATIL until 2001 and received the Caring Canadian Award from the Governor General in 2006.
In the early 1980’s, the policy of the government changed to require a reorganization of services. The TIL program was reinserted in the formerly dormant LVPA and funds to support LVPA were allocated to Les Promotions Sociales Taylor-Thibodeau (LPSTT) and the West Island Readaptation Centre (WIRC) through contractual arrangements.
In the late 1980s and early 1990s, LVPA began to evaluate, reorganize, and professionalize its services. Program philosophies, descriptions, and goals were written, and orientation manuals, assessments guidelines, and skills checklists were developed. A client review system was developed to include family members and professionals.
In 1992, LVPA officially changed its name to AVATIL (Apprentissage à la vie autonome/Towards Independent Living).
In 1995, a formal written contract was established between LPSTT and AVATIL. The contract provided for global funding for the mission of AVATIL. It recognized service provision to those with mild and borderline intellectual disabilities, and the distinctness of the population AVATIL served. By 1997, three public establishments offering services in English and French had merged in the West Island area: LPSTT, le Chalet d’enfants Primavesi, and WIRC. They formed The West Montréal Readaptation Centre (WMRC). Since 2001, AVATIL’s contract with WMRC falls under article 108 of the Health and Social Services Act and must state which services are being purchased for clients duly registered with WMRC.
On April 1, 2015, integrated centres (CIUSSSs) were implemented. AVATIL’s service contract with WMRC until 2016 is, by default, part of the CIUSSS West Island.