Pacific Rim College

“We are Canada’s only post-secondary educational institution offering a vast array of programs in complementary and integrative medicine.”

Todd Howard, the founder and president of Pacific Rim College, got to Victoria the long way round. Born and raised in West Virginia, he has travelled on five continents and visited 30 countries, including a year of work at the world’s busiest clinic of acupuncture and homeopathy in Sri Lanka.

His time abroad included three months interning in hospitals in China, four months as an acupuncturist and lecturer on a cruise line, and two months as a medical volunteer in East Africa before heading back to live in California. Looking for a better place to be, he got on his bike and rode to Victoria.

Located in beautiful offices in Market Square, Pacific Rim College offers programs in four key areas: acupuncture and oriental medicine; phytotherapy, the study of western herbal medicine; natural health; and Hellerwork, which is a system of structural bodywork that integrates movement education, energetics, and dialogue.

Howard has big plans. “We are working on accreditation for degree status with universities in Europe and Scotland, and we are going to expand our course offerings in areas such as homeopathy, native herbology, clinical hypnosis, massage therapy, shiatsu, naturopathy, and more.” 

One area that they are especially proud of is their mandate to promote and sustain First Nations’ medicine and practices; four of their original 10 board members were First Nations members.

Starting with three students in 2007, the college now has 80 students from around the world, including the United States, Korea, Peru, Kenya, and New Zealand.

“It has been an interesting process developing the business,” says Howard. “I don’t have a business background and, over the past couple of years, my life has been about marketing, corporate development, people management, and finances. Not only do they offer a range of courses but also provide clinical space for local alternative health practitioners. “But it is not all business, and we work hard at staying true to our own values,” says Howard,

Those values include making a difference both where they live and around the world. Locally, Pacific Rim College works with the James Bay Community co-op providing free health clinics. Internationally, they have established a non-governmental organization, the Global Outreach Program, that works with the Pan African Acupuncture Program to provide free acupuncture clinics and training to medical practitioners in Africa.