Armour Transport Systems Reaches Million-Dollar Milestone for Type 1 Diabetes Research

It often starts with one and becomes a reality with the support of many: one step to begin a walk, one truck to build a transport empire, and one idea to create a leading global charity.  

Like JDRF, Armour Transport Systems arose from humble beginnings in the 1940s, when Mr. Gordon Armour used his truck to haul hay and gravel out of a small farming community near Moncton, New Brunswick. It is now one of Canada’s leading transportation specialists, servicing locations throughout North America. The company is also known for its generous community support of health, youth, and education initiatives, and JDRF is honoured to be Armour’s long-standing charity of choice. 

From monthly employee giving programs, to special raffles and fundraisers, and partnering with JDRF for the Sun Like Walk to Cure Diabetes in Moncton, Armour Transport Systems has made a remarkable impact on type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. Armour recently reached $1 million in giving with their ongoing commitment to the Moncton Walk, which they have supported since 2003. 


“Diabetes has had an impact on many of us here at Armour which is why our employees have been so passionate about raising funds for this important cause,” says Ruby Murphy-Collins, Chief Operating Officer, Armour Transport Systems.  

For the T1D community in Moncton, which includes Jasmine LeBlanc, co-chair of the 2022 Moncton Walk, Armour’s consistent giving provides hope for a better future for everyone living with T1D. This future ultimately includes a cure for T1D, but in the immediate term also means improved treatments and more equitable access to life-saving diabetes technologies like insulin pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGMs), especially in Atlantic Canada, where there is limited public coverage. 

“Armour’s support is amazing – they have been such a big part of our Walk here in Moncton for so many years,” says Jasmine. “Their funding to support diabetes research will make a difference and help lead to a cure for the kids who are newly diagnosed today. And it’s not too late for me either.”

Jasmine was diagnosed at the age of seven and has been living with T1D for just over 20 years. Since her diagnosis, the Walk has provided her with a meaningful space to connect with the T1D community and volunteer her time.

With the pandemic sidelining in-person events for two years, Jasmine, her fellow co-chair Judy Roy, and about 70 others were thrilled to reconnect on a beautiful day at the 2022 Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes in Moncton. 

The same was true one province over in Bedford, Nova Scotia, where Brad Price, a longtime Armour employee and the current VP of Operations, attended the Halifax region Walk. To celebrate the company’s $1-million legacy of support, JDRF presented Brad with a certificate of appreciation – a small token of recognition for Armour’s tremendous support.

We would like to thank Armour Transport Systems and the communities in Moncton and Atlantic Canada for being such stalwart JDRF supporters throughout the years. Together, with their help we get ever closer to a world free from type 1 diabetes.

Back together again

The 2022 Sun Life Walk to Cure Diabetes for JDRF was a huge success!

The Walk is the largest fundraising event in Canada to support type 1 diabetes (T1D) research. As a result of the pandemic, for the last two years, JDRF had to shift to a virtual event, and while our supporters still made the Walk an exciting and successful fundraiser – there’s nothing like the T1D community being together in person.

This year, we were so excited to reunite many communities across Canada. We asked you to Step Up to Cure Diabetes and did you ever! We were amazed by the dedication and commitment of our participants.

Almost 900 teams registered in more than 45 communities with each province and territory being able to support JDRF too.

As of June 28, more than $2M has been raised in support of the most promising diabetes research with additional Walks still set to take place.

We designated June as Walk Month and there were two ways to participate in the Walk.

JDRF led signature walks, in Vancouver, Edmonton, Regina, Toronto, Montreal, and Halifax on June 12 and across the country, volunteer-led community walks brought together the T1D community.

The Walk is more than just a fundraiser. It’s a chance for families living with T1D to get together, share their stories and offer support. For many first-year Walkers, they or their child were diagnosed during the pandemic, and this was the first time they could meet safely with others who have already been there. Families talked about going back to school for the first time with T1D, nutrition and exercise tips, and helped those who have been newly diagnosed know they were not alone.

Cassie’s son, Connor, was diagnosed with T1D in 2020 at the age of five. It’s important for Cassie that Connor knows that he is not alone.

“It’s not just about raising money, or awareness, it’s that sense of community. It’s about celebrating the resilience of all the kids who live with T1D and connecting with other parents and families who know exactly what you are going through. It meant the world to me to see Connor’s face light up when he saw other kids wearing fanny packs, sporting their pumps & CGMs. It’s one thing to see kids like him on social media, but it is on a whole different level when he sees them in person,”Cassie Donnelly, Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Most signature Walks had a tent designated specifically for new families, supported by JDRF Volunteer and Community Engagement staff to provide the most up to date information and resources. Games were set up for the kids and emcees helped keep the energy going with music. Across the country, each Walk location had their own unique offerings for the T1D community.

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all our sponsors, who helped us welcome Walk participants back to in-person events! With their support, we were able to offer an incredible day with pre-Walk stretching, delicious refreshments and valuable resources for T1D families.

At the Toronto location, MP Sonia Sidhu announced the renewal of the JDRF-CIHR Partnership to Defeat Diabetes, a commitment of $30 million in new funding for T1D research.

Walk Day was a day of fun, sharing, a lot of laughter and some tears. We are so grateful to everyone who helped to make it happen and are excited to see the T1D community gather at upcoming Walks.

Thank you so much to our Walkers, volunteers, donors and our national partners. We could not have done it without you. Every step that you took brings us closer to a world free from type 1 diabetes.



Thank you to our onsite partners for welcoming participants back to
in-person events!


Local partners

A1 Rent Alls

Capital GMC Buick Cadillac

Bedford Lions

Harvard Developments

Capital Ford Lincoln

Pizza Hut

Redhead Equipment

River City Events

Universal Collision Centre


Community partners

107.5 KOOLFM ROCK95

AM 1150 Kelowna

99.9 Virgin Radio Kelowna

Armour Transportation

A&W

BC Livestock

Boston Pizza

Dignity Memorial

Castanet Media

Doak Shirreff Lawyers LLP

Concentrix

Elite Auto Centre

Fresh is Best

J.D. Irving/ Cavenish Farms

Friends of Dorothy

Kiwanis Saint John

Gateman-Milloy Inc.

MOVE 101.5 Kelowna

Mucci Farms

Pizza Hut

Oranj Fitness

Rogers Rental

Padgett Business Services

Salisbury House

Save On Foods

The Sisters of the Immaculate Conception

Sobeys- St. Clair Beach

Town of Riverview

Surplus Herby’s

Three Canadian Researchers awarded JDRF International Innovation Grants

JDRF provides seed funding for highly innovative research with significant potential to accelerate the most promising type 1 diabetes (T1D) research in both cures and approaches to improve disease management. JDRF Innovative Grants address key outstanding questions in the field of T1D and have the potential to lead to changes in the traditional ways of approaching T1D research or spur groundbreaking discoveries.

JDRF is thrilled to announce that three Canadian researchers have recently been awarded one-year Innovation Grants for their T1D studies. 

Dr. Robert Screaton and his lab at the Sunnybrook Research Institute in Toronto, Ontario were awarded an Innovation Grant to study strategies to maximize survival of beta cells. Beta cells are very long lived, and as such, it’s believed that they may have genes that work to promote their survival throughout life. However, these genes and how they work to promote beta cell survival are largely unknown.

Previously, Dr. Screaton’s group carried out a large-scale genetic screen to identify genes that help the beta cells survive and function.

In the new project, the team will build on this work to harness the function of selected genes to help promote beta cell survival, not only during transplant scenarios (stem cell-derived transplants that replace the beta cells that die during the process of T1D), but even to prevent the beta cell loss that triggers T1D in the first place. The team will explore whether already available drugs that can potentially “turn on” these genes can also promote the survival of human beta cells, and promising results could potentially lead to a drug therapy that could extend the life of cell replacement therapies or even prevent T1D from developing.

The second Innovation Grant was awarded to Dr. Derek van der Kooy at the University of Toronto. Van der Kooy and his lab members at the Molecular Genetics department work on various stem cell biology and developmental biology research projects. The innovation grant will focus on work to optimize the production of new beta cells from endogenous precursor cells. The team wants to see whether there exists a mechanism to activate adult pancreatic precursor cells to make new insulin-producing beta cells. As the team learns more about these adult pancreatic cells, they hope to better understand the cell surface receptors that can be potentially ‘unlocked’ by certain drugs.

The team also aims to explore an existing regenerative drug library to find new drugs that may encourage these pancreatic cells to proliferate. The potential benefit of such cell activation is that a future therapy based on this work could avoid invasive surgery and maintain the vascular and spatial structure of the pancreas, both of which are important for beta cells to control blood glucose effectively and safely.

The third Innovation Grant recipient is Dr. Sylvie Lesage of the Maisonneuve-Rosemont Hospital in Montreal, Quebec. Dr. Lesage and her team want to better understand pancreatic insufficiency – specifically when the pancreas does not produce enough enzymes necessary for digesting certain foods such as fat.

Pancreatic insufficiency is present in approximately half of people with T1D, and it may contribute to difficulties in managing blood glucose levels and increase the risk of hypoglycemia. Dr. Lesage will examine why certain people with T1D have pancreatic insufficiency.

Severe defects in a protein named cystic fibrosis transmembrane regulator (CFTR) cause cystic fibrosis. This same protein, CFTR, when found in the pancreas of people with cystic fibrosis, causes pancreatic insufficiency. More recently, minor defects in CFTR have been associated with an increased risk of T1D. Once pancreatic insufficiency is better understood in people with T1D, Dr. Lesage can test drugs used to treat cystic fibrosis (initially in mice), to see if they may correct these defects in the CFTR in people with T1D who suffer from pancreatic insufficiency and improve diabetes management.

JDRF Canada will continue to support work that aims to prevent, treat and improve the lives of people with T1D. We will provide updates on these exciting Innovation Grants as they become available.

A step forward to supporting Canadians living with Type 1 Diabetes

After years of struggling with the Disability Tax Credit (DTC), Wendell Dempsey breathed a sigh of relief last week when all members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance (FINA) unanimously supported an amendment to the Federal Budget that would ensure all Canadians living with type 1 diabetes (T1D) can access this credit.

For Wendell, the update to the DTC would mean he gets taxed less on his earned income, alleviating some of the stress about the high costs associated with his growing list health complications resulting from T1D.

“This change would mean no more fighting with the doctor to sign off on documents, and no more trying to rationalize how many hours a week it does take to try and control this disease,” he says.

Despite living with type 1 diabetes for more than 20 years, Wendell has only been approved for the DTC a handful of times. “Sometimes I am approved, and sometimes I am not. But my diabetes has always remained constant, and my expenses have only increased.”

Thousands more expressed their gratitude online for this positive step in the right direction, including Joanna Stimpson who took to social media to say “Finally!” thanking her husband Matt who lives with T1D, and bravely shared his story with the House of Commons Committee. Matt  applied for the Disability Tax Credit at the same time as his 14-year-old daughter Tilly. Tilly was approved, and Matt was not, even though they both live with the same condition and the costs incurred and time spent on self-management are relatively the same.

Any Canadian with T1D can attest to the exorbitant costs that come with daily management of this disease. From insulin to devices to supplies, individuals and families can pay up to $15,000 per year out of pocket to survive. T1D is an autoimmune disease where the immune system attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells in a person’s pancreas. People with T1D must administer an external form of insulin, either through injection, pump or pen multiple times a day in order to survive. There is no cure, but diabetes technologies and devices have come a long way to help people manage the disease better and live healthier, easier, and safer lives. But even with careful management, there remains the risk of diabetes related complications including coma, amputations, kidney failure and even death.

The purpose of the DTC is to provide for tax equity by allowing some relief for disability costs, since these are the unavoidable expenses that other taxpayers do not have.  However, it can be difficult for people with T1D to qualify. Many medical professionals, like Dr. Bruce Perkins, an endocrinologist at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto, Ontario, indicate that the current eligibility process is cumbersome. He has   attested that the 14-hour requirement is arbitrary, outdated and presents too many unfair challenges for people trying to access the benefit.

Dr. Perkins has been a staunch opponent of the 14-hour requirement saying that “the simple fact of a type 1 diabetes diagnosis means that one is already on life-sustaining therapy,  one carries additional weekly physical burdens, burdens with coping psychologically, and major financial burdens from the direct and indirect costs of type 1 diabetes. The requirement that a person with T1D must demonstrate an arbitrary number of hours spent on their disease does not resonate well with the medical community, places unfair burden on the health care provider, and introduces major bias in which individuals with T1D receive a tax credit.”

The proposed amendment to the Budget Bill can alleviate this barrier to access by automatically qualifying people who live with T1D and has the community saying, “Finally!”