The first home educators in Canada faced many challenges. The attitude from the public schools was quite antagonistic, as they were convinced the government was responsible for education of all children, not parents. Consequently, most people were homeschooling "underground", that is, without officially informing the school boards. As soon as school boards found out, parents were immediately under all kinds of pressure to conform to the system, and even had to face threats that their children would be removed from their homes because of "truancy."
However, the school boards were not the only source of parental pressure. In the early days, family or friends who found out about your homeschool would often ask: "is that legal?". HSLDA Canada was founded as the result of home education leaders in Canada connecting with HSLDA in the United States. Dan Reinhardt, a founding board member of HSLDA Canada recalls: "Dave Stasiewich invited the Founder of HSLDA USA, Mike Farris, to come speak at the Alberta conference for homeschoolers. What Mike described as the experience of homeschoolers in the USA ten years earlier was very similar to what we were going through in Canada then. The amazing success of HSLDA USA to strengthen the homeschooling movement was a great encouragement. At the end of his speech, Mike Farris polled the room with the question: "How many of you would support an HSLDA version in Canada?" The audience response catalyzed a concerted effort to establish a legal presence for home educators north of the border."
Two California lawyers, Mike Farris and Mike Smith, had the wisdom to recognize that HSLDA in Canada would need to be led by Canadians. In 1991, HSLDA was incorporated in Canada with Canadian legal support and a primarily Canadian Board of Directors - and so the HSLDA adventure began in Canada. As one home educating pioneer shares: "We began to learn that homeschooling parents had rights under Canadian law that were being stepped on by overbearing school officials. HSLDA taught us how the law worked, and the limits that were on public school boards. Bolstered with this additional information, homeschooling parents began to stand for their rights in Canada."
In 1993, HSLDA Canada hired it's first staff lawyer, Dallas Miller. This also involved setting up a permanent head office and gradually hiring staff as home education in Canada grew. This growth continued until 2003 when HSLDA Canada hired a second lawyer, Paul Faris. In January 2005, Dallas Millar retired from HSLDA and subsequently was elevated to the Court of the Queens Bench in Alberta and Paul Faris became president and legal counsel in his place.