2 min

Death hits AIDS Committee

Charles Roy came up with fundraising strategies

Credit: Xtra files

The AIDS Committee of Toronto was dealt a severe blow late last month with the death of its executive director Charles Roy.

Roy passed away at the Toronto Hospital on Aug 24 due to complications from HIV, in the company of his partner Jay Hood and friends.

He had been with the organization for about eight years, starting as the director of support services, then moving into the executive director’s chair about two years later. Prior to his death Roy had been on leave due to his illness.

“It’s been a real shock for the entire agency,” says interim co-executive director John Maxwell. “We knew he had been experiencing health problems for eight or nine months, but we were expecting him to come back. Even though he had to take time off, we still expected him to walk through the door again.

“Because of all the new treatments out there fewer people have been dying of AIDS. We certainly knew that AIDS wasn’t over, but when your executive director passes away it really hits home. You realize that despite all the advances in treatment, there still isn’t a cure.”

Over the years Roy had worked with several AIDS organizations. At the Canadian AIDS Society he was the founding chair of the People Living With HIV/AIDS Committee and vice-chair of the board. He was also the vice-chair of the AIDS Committee Of Ottawa and organized the first support group for people with AIDS at the Montreal AIDS Resource Centre.

His other AIDS-related work included the Canadian Haemophilia Society, The Canadian Hospital Association and the Montreal Children’s Hospital. Recently, Roy had also served as an alternate community representative on the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis And Malaria, an initiative of the United Nations and the World Health Organization. Its goal is to increase funding to fight these three diseases in countries with the greatest need.

But it was his commitment to ensure people living with HIV/AIDS received the best treatment possible that ACT will remember him for.

“He always wanted to make sure that services were available and were appropriate for the people using them,” says Maxwell. “He wanted to ensure that services were relevant and changed according to people’s needs.”

When Roy started out as director of support services he initiated the on-call counsellor service. Under the program people in crisis can access a counsellor through ACT immediately rather than waiting for one to be available, which could have been a few days. “He tried to make it easier for people to have access to services.”

He was also instrumental in organizing the fundraising element of the organization.

Roy encouraged the fundraising department to do more than rely on special events to raise money. He wanted to diversify the fundraising aspect of ACT so the organization could support its range of services, so he supported such things as direct mail campaigns, bequests and the monthly giving program, “which can be instrumental in providing services because you know exactly how much money is coming in,” says Maxwell.

In addition, Roy’s work will live on at ACT through his own bequest, the Charles Roy Practical Assistance Fund For People Living With HIV/AIDS.

“He recognized that the government is an important part of funding and believed there should be more funding, but he also recognized that it was important to explore other avenues. He encouraged the growth of the fundraising department beyond special events because there’s a lot of uncertainty around them. He also recognized that corporate Canada has a role to play in supporting the community.”

Roy’s friends are planning a memorial for Sat, Sep 21 at 2pm at the Bloor St United Church (300 Bloor St). For more information visit ACT’s website at

In lieu of flowers, donations are being accepted by the AIDS Committee Of Toronto or by the Global Fund To Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis And Malaria.

Donations to either can be made through ACT at (416) 340-8484 ex 231.