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Kaien Safety trainer gets philanthropic in his retirement

At 75, Kevin Newton is setting up a palliative care home and women’s education fund in Prince Rupert
Kyle Irwin, president, Irwin’s Safety, Kevin Newton, Kaien Safety, James Webster, area coordinator, Irwin’s Safety. (Shannon Lough / The Northern View)

When Kevin Newton decided it was time to sell his company, Kaien Safety, he wanted to make sure it was done in a way that would honour his wife.

Agnes Kristin Krantz was an academic. She graduated from law school at the University of British Columbia, and in 1994 she took a position as provincial court judge in Prince Rupert.

She passed away in 2012, and in her honour, Newton is setting up Women From The North, an annual bursary that will provide money to women who want to do postgraduate work.

“We will be working with local universities,” Kevin Newton said. “It’s basically providing a bursary for those that want to expand their knowledge, but as you well know, it’s expensive for anybody to take courses.”

At 75 years old, Newton is ready to retire. Irwin’s Safety is purchasing the assets of his business, and in their agreement, two per cent of the yearly earnings will go toward the Prince Rupert Foundation.

“Our legal team is setting up the foundation for Kevin as part of the transaction,” said Kyle Irwin, president of Irwin’s Safety.

Before running his own business, Newton had worked at BC Ferries for 25 years as a safety trainer. Then in 2009, he started North Coast Safety, providing training to industry and community members.

“I figured I just trained about 20,000 people,” Newton said. “The most important thing was to make everybody realize that they themselves are responsible for their own lives.”

Five years ago, he opened Kaien Safety Group with a business partner and they provided services in Indigenous communities, training youths to help them become more employable.

Now, he’s handed over the reins to Irwin’s Safety, as his health has taken a turn. For the past 13 years, Newton has been struggling with Parkinson’s disease. When his wife passed away, he wanted to keep his body and mind active so he dove into his work. But lately, his Parkinson’s has gotten worse.

“My body is starting to deteriorate faster than expected,” he said.

In a separate project, he’s turning his home on Omineca Avenue into a palliative care facility for himself, which he will then give to the community.

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“It turns out there’s no palliative care facility in Prince Rupert other than the hospital, and that’s not easy for the hospital,” Newton said.

Renovations are still underway to be able to provide palliative care for up to four people. Conveniently, the facility is located near the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital.

“That’s part of the asset purchase, so that Kevin can finish that. He’s using his own money [close to half a million dollars] to build this and then he’s going to donate it to the community when he passes on,” Irwin said.

“It’s a good cause that we feel, you know, as a business that by being able to do some social good as well is always a benefit.”

In his retirement, Newton will work to finish his privately operated palliative care unit before his health deteriorates into the stage where he needs it completely. There will be a nurse’s station to allow full-time care on site.

More details on the Women From The North annual bursary, and how to apply, will be revealed later in the year.

As for his legacy, Newton said, “I just want to be remembered as a person that helped their community.”

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Shannon Lough | Editor
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