How GEDfest is supporting the Calgary Cancer Centre

GEDfest is a celebration of the impact Gordon Edgar Downie of the Tragically Hip had on Canadian culture and music. Behind the music, dancing, and good times had at this event is a purpose. For Keith, the organizer of GEDfest Calgary, the purpose is to ensure better outcomes for Alberta’s cancer patients.

“It is meant to be a celebration that brings the community together under the spirit of live music and charity.” – Keith Dyck, organizer of GEDfest.

Keith Dyck, co-founder of GEDfest.

Gordon Edgar Downie, the lead singer of the Tragically Hip, passed away from Glioblastoma brain cancer on October 17, 2017. Each year since, on the closest Saturday to October 17, GEDfest takes place to support a cancer charity. With tribute bands, like Trickle Down, playing hits by the Tragically Hip and conversations brewing about the Gordon Downie’s impact on Canadian culture and the cancer community, this event is a time to reconnect and take part in a good cause.

Keith knew he wanted to support cancer care provided in Calgary, having seen the incredible work taking place at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

Keith’s first glimpse at the care provided at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre came when one of his dearest friends, Terry, was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer.

GEDfest founders, Keith and Julie, and the funds they raised for the Calgary Cancer Centre.

When asked about Terry’s journey, Keith responded, “Through his battle with cancer, he talked about the Tom Baker Cancer Centre, the care he received there, and how amazing it was. He was given six months to live, and nine years later, he is a healthy, robust and beautiful man at 74. [Terry] would say, outside of his oncologist, the Tom Baker Cancer Centre saved his life.”

Keith’s wife, Julie, had also volunteered at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre.

With the new Calgary Cancer Centre opening up in 2024, Keith saw an opportunity to help advance cancer care for Albertans.

GEDfest, in Calgary, decided to support the new Calgary Cancer Centre through the OWN.CANCER campaign this year. Keith and Julie have made a commemorable effort to ensure that 100% of the proceeds from GEDfest go directly to the OWN.CANCER campaign.

“The Calgary Cancer Centre opening, we certainly want to be a part, albeit a very small part, of seeing that across the finish line.”

– Keith Dyck.

GEDfest, 2022.

When asked what OWN.CANCER means to him, Keith explains, “It is about community ownership… it is up to all of us to OWN.CANCER.”

It is certain that GEDfest brings the community together, all in the spirit of taking back the power cancer has over us. We are grateful for the support GEDfest has provided to the OWN.CANCER campaign and the Alberta Cancer Foundation in years past. It is clear to see the positive impact it has on our Albertan communities.


Here is how you can support GEDfest:

  1. Attend the live event. (On the Saturday closest to October 17 each year)
  2. Donate to their portal through the OWN.CANCER site.
  3. Go to to learn more about the event and the people who created it.
  4. Follow GEDfest on social media.


“Music brings people together. So my function in anything I do is to help bring people closer in.” – Gordon Edgar Downie


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Learn more about the OWN.CANCER campaign today.

New gift to OWN.CANCER campaign builds on renowned Calgary strength in cancer-focused emotional and psychological research and care

OWN.CANCER Campaign Co-Chair John Osler (left) and philanthropist Patrick Daniel unveil a plaque in honour of the Daniel Family Foundation's gift

OWN.CANCER Campaign Co-Chair John Osler, left, and philanthropist Patrick Daniel unveil a plaque in honour of the Daniel Family Foundation’s gift. Photo by: Adrian Shellard, for the University of Calgary.

Cancer patients and their families will benefit from a new multimillion-dollar gift through the OWN.CANCER campaign (a partnership between the University of Calgary, Alberta Health Services and Alberta Cancer Foundation) to advance Calgary’s world-leading psychosocial oncology research and care.

The $5 million contribution by Calgary philanthropist Patrick Daniel and his family will support a world-class clinician-researcher through a new research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology in the Department of Oncology and Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute — a joint entity of Alberta Health Services and the University of Calgary.

Psychosocial oncology (PSO) is a cancer specialty that addresses the social, psychological and emotional issues that arise with a cancer diagnosis and treatment, as well as survivorship. With one in two Albertans currently expected to face a cancer diagnosis, this work is essential.

Calgary’s already world-renowned program will benefit greatly from the gift, as well as a new collaborative space in the Calgary Cancer Centre. The Daniel Family Foundation Psychosocial Oncology Hub will bring clinicians, researchers, care teams and families together — under one roof — to collaborate on the cancer challenge in a way that hasn’t previously been possible.

A family affair

Patrick Daniel's mother, Catherine Daniel

Patrick Daniel’s mother, Catherine Daniel, was passionate about psychosocial oncology after her cancer diagnosis in the late 1970s. Photo: Courtesy Patrick Daniel

The retired energy executive is a long-standing champion of psychosocial oncology. Daniel’s connection to it is personal: his mother, Catherine Daniel, truly owned her 1978 lymphoma diagnosis and years of treatment by researching and developing her own emotional and mental well-being plan. Daniel says she did this four years before the first meeting of early experts on psychosocial oncology in Canada even occurred.

“It was a very unusual thought at the time; not very many people connected your mental and emotional health with your physical health. The fact that she believed so much in it made me want to do something to help,” Daniel says. Catherine went on to enjoy spending time with her children and grandchildren for another 14 years before she died in 1992, he adds.

A long-standing champion for PSO, he’s given generously to the field — first through Enbridge, where he served as president and CEO from 2001 to 2012, and later through the Daniel Family Leadership Chair in Psychosocial Oncology at UCalgary. With this new gift, he hopes to capitalize on the opportunity for growth through the Calgary Cancer Centre and OWN.CANCER campaign

“UCalgary’s work in psychosocial oncology has been world-recognized and makes a real difference. It is very satisfying to be supporting such globally impactful work,” says Daniel.

On the map

Dr. Barry Bultz, Ph.D., is a global founder of psychosocial oncology whose work put Calgary on the map in this field. Bultz, an Alberta Health Services psychologist and UCalgary researcher, led the development of some of the very first protocols for screening for cancer-related distress — known as the ‘sixth’ vital sign in cancer patients — which are now embraced as the standard of care in cancer hospitals around the world. Earlier this year, he was recognized with the Order of Canada for his work.

“The way we treat cancer goes beyond the tumour to address the whole patient and their unique journey. In Calgary, we have focused our research on really understanding the psychological needs and social well-being of patients with cancer, both during and after treatment,” says Bultz, the Daniel Family Leadership Chair in Psychosocial Oncology.

“We are placing a major research emphasis on survivorship and identifying new strategies to help patients transition to life beyond cancer.”

UCalgary clinician-scientists were also among the first to use their own research to develop and customize mindfulness-based therapy programs and relationship workshops for patients coping with cancer. Current research includes integrative oncology, as well as examining the unique needs of survivors of pediatric cancer. This work is bolstered by philanthropy, including the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Enbridge Research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology and the Button Family Initiative in Pediatric Psychosocial Oncology and Survivorship.

Catalyzing opportunity

The new Daniel Family Chair in Psychosocial Oncology will lead psychosocial oncology research and care for the next 10 years at the new Calgary Cancer Centre, harnessing strengths around access to psychosocial patient outcome data through Alberta’s unique province-wide electronic health record system and UCalgary’s research partnership with Alberta Health Services (AHS).

UCalgary offers powerful capabilities to analyze the data. New data-driven research will enhance real-time communication among researchers, care providers and patients and families, and foster a learning healthcare system where care is continuously improving for other Albertans who enter the Calgary Cancer Centre’s doors.

“This generous gift from Patrick will enable us to attract additional internationally recognized leaders to build on our research excellence in the psychosocial space — providing a power-up for this critical work. It will attract talent, international collaborations, and research funds to Calgary to fuel projects of significant global importance,” says Dr. Jennifer Chan, MD, director, Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute.

“The Daniel Family Foundation Psychosocial Oncology Hub at the new Cancer Centre will support research, clinical care and community engagement centralized under one roof,” says Dr. Don Morris, MD, Ph.D., head of UCalgary’s Department of Oncology; and facility medical director, Tom Baker Cancer Centre and the new Calgary Cancer Centre, Alberta Health Services.

“It will allow resultant multidisciplinary teams to provide cutting-edge psychosocial cancer care for our patients and their families. The opportunities afforded by this chair will significantly expand the scope of the new cancer centre’s reach to address the diverse needs of pediatric, young adult and adult cancer populations, and encourage new and collaborative partnerships with underserved communities.

“In addition, this gift will allow the recruitment of the best and brightest trainees as part of the next generation of psychosocial oncology researchers and clinicians.”

UCalgary President Ed McCauley, Ph.D., agrees: “World-class research and education are absolutely driving better care. This targeted and proactive approach can help mitigate further cancer-related challenges — reducing overall healthcare costs and allowing patients and families to return to work faster and live their lives more fully.

“We are so grateful to the Daniel Family Foundation for their philanthropic vision and commitment to changing the trajectory of cancer.”

Learning to live again without fear

Beth, breast cancer survivor, and her husband Chuck

Beth Fortin with her husband, Chuck Fortin

Beth Fortin, a Calgary breast cancer survivor, mother and supervisor in the insurance industry, finished her treatment in April of this year. While the cancer is no longer in her body, it left behind serious symptoms of trauma and distress. She says the psychosocial oncology care she continues to receive through Tom Baker Cancer Centre has been tremendously helpful for both herself and her partner, Chuck.

“No matter what your stage of cancer is, you are going to end up with psychological trauma, because you have to learn to live every single day with the possibility of recurrence. The counselling I received has empowered me to start living again without fear,” Fortin says.

“I feel proud to live in a city with this calibre of expertise in cancer-specific psychosocial therapy and I would encourage every cancer patient to seek it out.”

Like Catherine did before them, the Daniel Family Foundation is delivering a tangible impact on the lives of countless cancer patients.

“There’s so much yet to be done. We’re only really scratching the surface in terms of emotional and mental health and what it does for physical health,” says Daniel

At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Help make an impact for patients and donate to the OWN.CANCER campaign today.

As originally published on UCalgary News.

How Sam Kwong is helping us own cancer

Sam Kwong recently joined his first marathon as a fundraiser, in which he decided to support the Alberta Cancer Foundation. To say his efforts were successful would be an understatement. Sam ran over 21 kilometres and raised over $5,000 for Albertans facing cancer. With the Calgary Cancer Centre being an initiative he is passionate about, we wanted to learn more about his ‘why’.


Tell us about yourself…

“My name is Sam Kwong and I am married to my wife, Amanda Keay, who I met in Calgary 14 years ago. We have an eighteen-month-old daughter named Chloe and she is expecting a baby brother this October 2022!

I have worked multiple jobs starting from the age of 14 years old. During the time frame between 14 to 18 years old, I worked as a day camp volunteer, newspaper sales personnel, cashier, and so on. I place a strong emphasis on character building and work ethic because I find them as core fundamentals to a successful career and life.

A few years ago, I graduated from a degree in business with a major in accounting and pursued my CPA, CMA designation after graduating. I currently own and operate two small and humble businesses: one in educational development ( and the other in recruiting for high-growth startup companies in Silicon Valley (

My favorite job of all though, is my journey in learning to become the best father and husband that I can be for my family. My commitment is to be there for them and spend as much time as possible with them. Monday to Sunday, if you come knocking on our door we are very likely home together, so feel free to come in for some food and beverages!

International travel is the most impactful investment I have made in my lifetime. I am blessed to have studied, worked and lived abroad on many occasions. To date, I have travelled to 23 or more countries, and my ultimate goal is to expand my perception of the world by seeking to understand others from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Curiosity flows through my DNA and is a big contributor to why I prefer having deep and real conversations about any open topic with anyone, anywhere in the world. The latest book I have been reading is Survival of the Nicest: How Altruism Made Us Human and Why It Pays to Get Along by Stefan Klein.

Time flies, so I constantly educate and dedicate myself to areas and situations in which I am able to make a difference. When the intentions are good, we ought to just let it flow naturally. No matter the industry or career, I truly believe in aiming to be the best at everything you do, in order to reap what you sow.”


Calgary Cancer Centre FundraiserWhat inspired you to fundraise for the Alberta Cancer Foundation? What do you hope to see accomplished with this funds?

“I finally stopped making excuses and built up the courage to run my first half marathon on May 29, 2022. I had decided to raise funds by contributing to a cause that our network and communities may all have unfortunately faced – cancer.

The beginning of 2022 started off a little rocky. I had lost my Aunt Ping to cancer rather abruptly. Ping was awesome and lived a simple life. Her three favorite things were Dim Sum, Newspaper, and Chinese New Year Red Pockets (I mean who doesn’t like good fortune and some extra cash to spend?). I miss her and her authenticity to truly be herself throughout all these years.

As a result, I personally dedicated my first run to Aunt Ping and the funds raised to help support the efforts of Alberta Cancer Foundation. In less than 3 weeks we had raised over $5000! Many who know me understand that my friends are considered my family and vice versa. The success and recognition goes to my network of friends and family who have been there since day 1. I am humbled and blessed to have a strong support group with such big hearts. They are the real champions!

I hope the funds help in accomplishing two things.

1. Dramatically increasing the survival rate of cancer patients to 100%.

2. At a minimum, mitigate patient suffering through accelerated technologies and innovative progress against cancer.”


Have you or a loved one been impacted by cancer? What did this journey look like?

“Yes. Earlier this year, I had lost my Aunt Ping and she was taken from us rather quickly. Unfortunately, Ping’s journey through cancer was short lived. We had a little less than 1 month with her since she was diagnosed and in the blink of an eye she was gone.

Similar to many of us, we hear of many cases of close family members and friends battling this chronic disease. As a community we have made significant advancements to cancer treatment however until cancer is put to rest we still have work to do. These tragic life experiences teach you many many lessons.

One of the main lessons I learned is to smile often, and cherish the people and relationships you have around you. Dance through the ups and downs of life’s experiences with them one day at a time, and remember to have fun while doing so.”


Calgary Cancer Centre FundraiserWhat does the new Calgary Cancer Centre mean to you?

“To me, the new Calgary Cancer Centre means that we have a significantly larger force of hardworking passionate people that are making their best attempt to put cancer to rest for good. Cancer is a topic that can be dark and morbid, but I firmly believe that we must continue to fight and the Calgary Cancer Centre is a dedicated space to do just that. I look forward to the day when we can rid this disease away once and for all!”


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Learn about how you can help us OWN.CANCER.

Why Canada Life supports the OWN.CANCER Campaign

In support of the Calgary Cancer Centre, Canada Life has made a generous donation to the OWN.CANCER Campaign.  


A campaign of this magnitude doesn’t happen without the support and dedication of our community. Canada Life is passionate about giving back to the community and Albertans facing cancer, and they have generously donated to the OWN.CANCER campaign in support of the Calgary Cancer Centre opening in 2023. Through their help, we’re closer to reaching our $250 million fundraising goal in supporting the Calgary Cancer Centre.  


Canada Life is committed to improving Canadians’ financial, physical, and mental well-being. A longstanding supporter of the Alberta Cancer Foundation, Canada Life is proud to contribute to the redevelopment and expansion of the new treatment centre called the Calgary Cancer Centre. 


“We’re proud to support OWN.CANCER because we believe in the power of research and expertise. We know that health diagnosis and treatment play a vital part in creating strong and healthy communities. We’re inspired to work with forward-thinking, collaborative organizations committed to creating positive change for the well-being of all Canadians.” 


Beyond the campaign, they have also supported the rehabilitation program designed to help Canadians regain control in many aspects of their lives during and after treatment.  


“At Canada Life, we believe we can work together to make a lasting change for the better – we want to help the Calgary Cancer Centre put an end to cancer.” 



At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Interested in supporting the Calgary Cancer Centre? Learn more here.

Giving Through Generations


Philip Libin; Stuart Libin; Harriet Libin;

As children growing up in the mid-1940s, Phil and Harriet Libin learned about the importance of giving back from their respective families. The couple’s parents, Saul and Sonia Libin and Leo and Goldie Sheftel, donated whatever time or money they could afford to people in need. As a result, Phil and Harriet began volunteering in their early teens — before they even met. Regardless of what the Calgary forecast had in store for them, they would each take to the streets with blue collection boxes every Sunday morning, fundraising for the Jewish National Fund of Canada.

“When you go out and get that quarter or that dime or that nickel, it gives you that sense of satisfaction in helping. My parents would never turn away someone in need, and I grew up seeing my parents give,” says Phil. “What’s the old saying: ‘Monkey see, monkey do?’” he chuckles.

Phil and Harriet first met as teenagers while attending Central Memorial High School in Calgary. The couple will celebrate their 65th wedding anniversary this year.

Today, the Libins are well-known as dedicated fundraisers and philanthropists in the city. They started the Phillip and Harriet Libin Family Foundation in 2009 to help support various local organizations and have often focused their fundraising efforts on the medical field. This past year, they donated $3 million to the Alberta Cancer Foundation supporting breast cancer-related research and clinical trials at the new Calgary Cancer Centre.

With this state-of-the-art cancer centre opening its doors in 2023, the Alberta Cancer Foundation, in partnership with the University of Calgary and Alberta Health Services, has launched the OWN.CANCER campaign to raise $250 million in support of enhanced research, treatment and care within the centre.

Raising funds for cancer care and research is a cause close to the Libin family’s hearts. In 2006, Sheryl — Phil and Harriet’s daughter, Stuart’s sister and mother to Michael and Matthew— was diagnosed with breast cancer. Phil and Harriet went to every single appointment with Sheryl at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. After an 11-year journey with cancer, Sheryl passed away from her illness in 2017 at age 55.

“Sheryl will have been gone for five years in May,” says Harriet. “I always said to Phil, ‘We have to find some way that will be meaningful to keep Sheryl’s memory alive.’ And when the Calgary Cancer Centre came up, we thought it would be a perfect place because it’s meaningful for us and because we went through the process with her.”

Sheryl shared the same generous spirit as the rest of her family, as she and Stuart followed in their parents’ footsteps to volunteer and lend a helping hand to anyone in need.

“We want to do this in memory of Sheryl and in honour of Stuart,” says Phil.

In recognition of the Libins’ contribution, the Calgary Cancer Centre is naming the Knowledge Centre auditorium the Philip and Harriet Libin Auditorium. The space will facilitate meetings, seminars and conferences where medical professionals and patients alike will have a space to communicate and share research.

“This will be a centre of excellence for research,” says Phil. “Educational lectures in this auditorium are going to be key to the patients who are travelling along their cancer journey. For Sheryl, she was sitting on pins and needles wondering, ‘What is this disease doing, how quickly is it moving?’ The unknown is the scariest. So, this auditorium will be a venue to provide a source of information and can help cancer patients start to see how their journey is going to fall into place.”

The Calgary Cancer Centre is still under construction, but requests are already underway to book the auditorium for patient advisory meetings, support groups and lectures.

“We’re quite excited for the centre to open,” says Harriet. “Even though it isn’t going to work for our daughter, this will offer hope for others. Throughout the years and growing up, there was always some member of our family who was not well. It became a part of our lives and always felt important.”

When it opens next year, the 1.3-million square foot Calgary Cancer Centre will have capacity to treat more cancer patients with increased space for clinical trials that is currently available at the Tom Baker Cancer Centre. It will also contain 110,000-square feet of dedicated research space.

“I really hope this centre will give people confidence knowing they have a place to take their loved one to be cared for,” says Harriet. “I hope that in the not-too-distant future, they’ll find cures for some of these cancers or make things easier for people if they can’t be fully cured. I think Sheryl would be honoured to know that we remember her in this way, and she’s in our hearts always.”

Phil and Harriet have raised significant funds for multiple causes over the years. Phil, who led a successful career in development and commercial real estate, has been a member of the Rotary Club of Calgary since 1989 and has served on the boards of various charities. Together, they’ve helped raise millions for local communities and causes.

“You do these things because you want to,” says Phil. “And because there’s a need for them.”

Giving back is a generational habit for the Libins. Growing up, Stuart also learned to contribute back to both the Jewish community and the community at large. As an adult, he joined the Rotary Club of Calgary and the Rockyview Hospital Fund Development Council.

“It was always natural,” Stuart says, “they always had a bug in my ear. I guess you could say I learned a great lesson from [my parents].”

The Libin’s lessons — their generational generosity — will continue to have a lasting impact here in Calgary and will make a tremendous difference for cancer patients at the Calgary Cancer Centre and beyond.


Originally written by Jennifer Friesen and published in the Alberta Cancer Foundation’s Blog

Donor Heather Culbert’s Drive to Thrive

Heather Culbert and her husband, Michael, are long-time donors to the University of Calgary, devoted to elevating cancer research that will make a difference via early detection and improved precision treatment. Culbert’s interest is, indeed, personal: though she lost her mom to cancer, she herself is a cancer survivor with a message of hope as the new Calgary Cancer Centre finally comes into view.


What’s your personal experience with cancer? 

My mother, Connie Cooper, who was a nurse, passed away from cancer in 2013. She developed breast cancer three times, and colon and liver cancer. In 2009, just before my mother got her third breast cancer diagnosis, I found out I had breast cancer, too. The timing of my diagnosis was wild: at the time, I was not only taking my mom to her appointments for breast cancer treatment, but I had just recently been named honorary chair for the Weekend to End Women’s Cancers in Calgary.

How did you feel when you got your diagnosis? What did you do?  

Given my mom’s history with breast cancer, I can’t say I was really surprised. I was fortunate to be diagnosed very early on: I’d gone in for my annual mammogram and they saw a shadowy spot. I was offered different options and took the more radical route — I decided to have a mastectomy right away instead of a lumpectomy where you’re not sure whether they ever got it all. I’m clear now. And I’m clearly a big believer in getting an annual mammogram. Even if there’s no family history — cancer can happen to anyone.

You’re also a big believer in the impact of cancer research — where do you want to make a difference? 

Early detection and precision oncology. My support is largely focused on breast cancer. My husband, Michael, and I have given to help advance research at the University of Calgary led by Dr. Tina Rinker. She and her team have developed a blood test for rapid testing and diagnosis of breast cancer. It can help cancer be detected much faster and find it in places where imaging techniques wouldn’t detect it as quickly. And we’ve given to help the university purchase equipment to advance genetic profiling for precision oncology — that’s how doctors can develop customized treatments for patients to target an individual’s tumour.

What was it about your mom’s cancer experience that moved you to support cancer research? 

I was my mom’s advocate as she went through the system, which is fragmented. There has been no central place for cancer testing, treatment, and care, and we had to go all over the city for all the various appointments, which made things challenging and confusing sometimes. I wanted to help change that. I feel like that’s my calling, it’s why I give to the university — to keep making the experience better for others by improving how cancer is diagnosed and treated. It’s why I’ve supported cancer research and why I am now advocating to help get the Calgary Cancer Centre underway — it’s an incredible project and it will change the future of cancer research and care.

To you, what’s the most exciting or transformative aspect of the new centre? 

That everything patients need throughout the course of their cancer journey Is all in one place.  I’m also excited about the thoughtful spaces designed for people with cancer to recover and spend time with their families. It’s an incredible opportunity for improved patient care and earlier diagnostics, and Calgary has the capacity and ability to improve the experience. When the Centre opens in 2023, this city be home to a world-class cancer hospital with a comprehensive approach that allows researchers, clinicians, patient-care specialists, and diagnosticians to work together in one place. I would love for people to feel a sense of calm and hopefulness when they walk into this place.

Heather Culbert is the volunteer co-chair for the Calgary Cancer Centre OWN.CANCER campaign – a $250-million fundraising partnership between UCalgary, the Alberta Cancer Foundation and Alberta Health Services to support the best of the best in cancer research, education and patient care in Calgary.

As originally published in the University of Calgary’s Arch Magazine.


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Learn more about the OWN.CANCER campaign today.

Cancer patient’s family donation to OWN.CANCER will support groundbreaking research