A room that has caskets, flowers and other items related to funerals.

Humber College strives to provide learners with the best in hands-on learning opportunities to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to the real world. Humber is in the unique position of being the only publicly funded college in Ontario that can house cadavers and has initiated a body donation program, enriching the educational journey for its learners.

Humber is recognized as a School of Anatomy and has implemented the Human Body Donor Program where the body donations are utilized both for anatomical and funeral service study. Humber College has the only English-speaking Funeral Service Education program in Ontario.

“Those who donate are providing a unique and amazing gift for student learning,” said Ron Stewart, program coordinator for Humber’s Bioscience Division.

The donation program has two parts. One is for donation to Humber’s Funeral Services program for funeral-related preparation studies while the other is a donation to the Bioscience Division for anatomical study.

Jeff Caldwell, Funeral Services professor, said prior to the donation program, the College’s Funeral Service program would receive decedents only from local funeral homes. With Humber’s professors being licensed funeral directors, they would act as subcontractors to the funeral homes and prepare the decedents for funerals while students observed.

Caldwell says the benefits for students of having the donation program are many. Prior to this, students could only learn the theory of certain aspects of the industry – for example restorative art. Now, they can develop the technical skills needed while at Humber so they’re more ready to step into their real-world careers.

“We viewed the donation program as an opportunity to impart that critical practical knowledge among our learners,” said Caldwell. “Now our students are able to use those instruments and materials and techniques that they previously couldn’t.”

Caldwell added they’re often able to accept remains that have been refused by other schools of anatomy due to a variety of factors – for example cause of death – as their graduates will be working with decedents from many different aspects of physiology and pathology in the real world.
Stewart said those who donate to the Bioscience Division are making a hugely positive impact on the learning of students from a variety of Faculty of Health Sciences and Wellness programs including Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Sciences, Fitness and Health Promotion, Bachelor of Science – Nursing, Paramedic and Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner, among others.  
As Stewart notes, learning is taken to a whole different level when students are able to access the donations as opposed to building knowledge strictly using models. It also helps boost student engagement, which consistently has a favourable impact on learning.
The donations are used for anatomical study and research opportunities.  

Previously, Humber was reliant on donations from other institutions. Anyone may donate their body and there is no age restriction.
Each year, Humber hosts a memorial service to honour the donors and their families while formally commemorating their gift to the college.

A person stands at a podium with the Humber College logo on and speaks into a microphone.
More information can be found on the Human Body Donor Program webpage.