Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation
Annual Report 2019

Mike Tighe and son Chase. Husband and son of the late Dr. Rachel Mandel. See Eye Institute.



Each year more than a half a million patients rely on the Royal Alexandra Hospital and its medical centres of excellence. It is through gifts that come in many shapes and sizes that our patients have access to innovative programs, state-of-the-art technologies and compassionate patient care.

This year’s high points:

  • Donors helped to open the doors to Alberta’s first 24 hours a day, seven days per week mental health access point.
  • Community-minded volunteers of the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s Women’s Auxiliary celebrated 120 years of dedicated service.
  • A $4.5 million fundraising campaign to bring a Positron Emission Tomography and Computed Tomography Scanner (PET/CT) to the Royal Alex was completed, with the construction on its future home to begin in the fall of 2019.

There are so many gifts we are thankful for, and we are proud to share our gratitude throughout the pages that follow.

As you read through this year’s annual report, we encourage you to reflect on the gifts we have shared and take a moment to be thankful for the gifts that surround you.

A little bit of gratitude undoubtedly goes a long way.


Andrew Otway
President and CEO
Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation

Brian Tod, QC
Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation




Inspiring community support for the Royal Alexandra Hospital and its medical centres of excellence, including the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, the CK Hui Heart Centre, the Eye Institute of Alberta and the Orthopedic Surgery Centre.


Improving the health of Albertans by building passionate community support for the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Imagine Canada

The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation is accredited by Imagine Canada for excellence and compliance in five key areas of operations: Board Governance, Financial Accountability and Transparency, Fundraising, Staff Management, and Volunteer Involvement.


We will never use the words ‘good enough’,
and we’re not afraid to start over if it means
a superior outcome.

While we appreciate the value of tried and true methods, we’re also comfortable turning current thinking upside down

Doing the right thing in the right way is the norm, not the exception. This means the little things, when no one is watching, and the big things, when no one can look away.

We give it freely and equally to all people whom our organization touches.

We are always transparent about our goals and objectives when working with others.

We say thank you often, and in many ways. We know that donors could choose to support any charity – but they’ve chosen this hospital, and they should feel good about doing so.



John Cameron (centre) and the John Cameron Entertainment ensemble and orchestra performing to raise vital funds for mental health at Crescendo 2019. Photos by Rob Hislop Photography

IF YOU HAD A BROKEN leg or an infection of any kind, you would seek professional medical help. If you were suffering from diabetes, cancer, asthma or arthritis, you would most certainly see a doctor.

So why is it that those facing mental illness often walk the path to wellness alone? “You don’t need to suffer in silence, and you are not alone on this path to wellness,” was the message that rang out loud and clear at the 2019 Crescendo fundraising concert, both conceived and executed by  the John Cameron Changing Lives Foundation (JCCLF). Through story and song, the Crescendo concert ignites passion for mental health awareness and care in the Edmonton community and includes stories from prominent community members about how mental illness has  touched their lives.

Classic rock tunes performed by outstanding local talent had everyone out of their seats. “Crescendo went far beyond the music to create real meaning for our city and our province. This year’s event raised critical funds to help open the doors of Access 24/7 at the Royal Alexandra Hospital,” said JCCLF chair John Cameron. “Access 24/7 is a mental health access hub where patients find support any time of day or night, 365 days a year and our foundation could not be more proud to play a role in its successful operation.”

The creation of Access 24/7 provides an updated model of care and a solution to the fragmented community-based addiction and mental health services, with multiple access points and different service delivery hours identified by local and area clients, patients, families, healthcare providers and community organizations. The site provides in-person assessment, crisis outreach and stabilization and a 24 hours per day, seven days per week call centre.

Top: Crescendo musical director Emmanuel Fonte joyfully commanding the 60-piece John Cameron Orchestra.
Middle: Patient advocate and Crescendo patient story feature Blake Loates (right) and guest Cohen Bayer, await the big show!
Bottom: Special guest Michael Landsberg, founder of the #SickNotWeak movement and high-profile TSN host shares his personal journey with the crowd.

“The opening of this one-of-a-kind site makes it easier to find and navigate addiction and mental health services, and supports long-term recovery for patients in the Edmonton zone,” said Andrew Otway, President and CEO of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.

Our foundation is thrilled to support this revolutionary care centre, and so very grateful for support from groups like the John Cameron Changing Lives Foundation.” The Crescendo event, now three years running, outdid itself once again. The 2019 event welcomed special guest Michael Landsberg, founder of the #SickNotWeak movement and high-profile TSN host who infused a renewed sense of passion for the cause and brought the crowd to its feet throughout the evening.

Stories were shared that stoked the fires of compassion and hope for those facing mental health challenges. Brave families and individuals shared their journeys from the stage smacking the stigma of staying quiet about mental health square in the face.

“Through the creation of Crescendo, stigma is removed,” said Otway. “By raising your voice, you have lifted others. We commend you, and we thank you.” John’s work and the work of his foundation does not stop with the opening of Access 24/7. With Crescendo 2020 already on the schedule, and the upcoming Singing Christmas Tree, they march on. Since 2009 the Singing Christmas Tree, with John at the helm, has given $650,000 back to the community. This year’s event continues on its philanthropic path.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation wishes to thank John, and the John Cameron Changing Lives Foundation for all that you do; one note, one song, one life at a time.


Dr. Len and Barbara Bistritz on the shores of Pigeon Lake, at their Ma-Me-O Beach, Alberta home.

INSPIRED BY THE WORK OF THEIR DAUGHTER, Dr. Lana Bistritz, Dr. Len and Barbara Bistritz made a significant contribution to the endoscopy department at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Dr. Lana Bistritz, Associate Professor, Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology, at the University of Alberta, provides care to patients who come through the endoscopy department at the Royal Alex.

“Endoscopy is a nonsurgical procedure used to examine a patient’s digestive tract,” said Dr. Bistritz. “When people think about endoscopy, they often
only think about colon cancer, but that is not all that we do in our department.”

Endoscopy at the Royal Alexandra Hospital is responsible for a plethora of vital procedures. The team performs endoscopic ultrasound staging of many upper gastrointestinal cancers as well as rectal and lung cancer, biopsies to confirm a cancer diagnosis, and they remove cancerous growths that are causing pain for patients as well. Most recently the department has begun performing endoscopic mucosal resection a minimally invasive technique for the treatment of early gastric cancers, a procedure that used to require open surgery.

“A requirement of performing these more advanced procedures is to provide heavier sedation to our patients, heavier than required for more traditional endoscopic procedures,” said Bistritz. “This meant that our department needed more advanced equipment like the GlideScope my parent’s contribution allowed us to purchase.”

“As our population gets older and sicker we are performing more and more procedures on patients with complex medical needs,” said Bistritz. “The Royal Alex is also a bariatric medicine centre of excellence, which means a regular occurrence of procedures for patients with a higher body mass index.

Both groups come with a higher risk for sedation complications, which requires the support of our anesthesiology department. We need to ensure they have the tools to perform their role in the safest way possible for our patients.” 

The GlideScope purchased with the Bistritz’s support is a videolaryngoscope that provides an unobstructed video image of the patient’s airway to the anesthesiologist, reducing the chance of complications for patients considered high-risk for sedation. 

“It was our pleasure to support the area of care that our daughter works in,” said Dr. Len Bistritz. “When I reviewed the financials in a previous Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation annual report, gastroenterology and endoscopy were obvious by their absence. We asked Lana to check with the gastroenterology nurses and let us know what the departmental needs were.”

“In addition to the GlideScope the need that was actually at the top of the list was a little surprising,” said Barbara Bistritz. “The number one request wasn’t for a piece of innovative equipment, but instead for something we all can understand and take comfort in, warm blankets.”

The endoscopy quality council at the hospital, comprised of nurses and physicians, indicated that the small blanket warmer they had was unable to serve their patient volume and investing in a larger unit would significantly improve patient comfort and influence their overall care experience positively.

The new blanket warmer the Bistritz’s gift funded is about double the size of the previous unit, which has alleviated the shortage of warm blankets for patients in the endoscopy and gastroenterology areas of care. 

The Bistritz’s contribution has provided not only improved patient outcomes but, equally as significant, an improvement to patient comfort as well. 

Thank you, Len and Barbara, for your patient-centred thoughtfulness and your support of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.


Women’s Auxiliary volunteer members attending the June 2018 Spring Luncheon.

IN THE SPRING OF 1899, six years before Alberta became a province, it was decided that there was a need for a non-denominational, public hospital. At this same time, six women, led by women’s rights activist and first female magistrate in Canada and the British Empire, Emily Murphy, volunteered to help finance this new hospital. Their work began through the formation of the Ladies Hospital Aid Society, a society that would become the Royal Alexandra Hospital Women’s Auxiliary.

This transcendent group of women assumed the responsibility of the hospital’s mortgage, arranged for furnishings, food, employee salaries, linens, and hospital clothing. They also converted an old on-site building into a refrigeration unit to supply the hospital with ice. The group indeed did whatever it took to ensure the hospital could function and in 1900, their collaborative efforts came to fruition with the opening of the Boyle Street Hospital. Twelve years later the Boyle Street Hospital was replaced by the Royal Alexandra Hospital, and the Women’s Auxiliary moved with it. Once again, they rose to the challenge of fundraising for their new hospital with bazaars, raffles, charity balls, and many other events. Their support and dedication has grown with the Royal Alex and continues to this day.

Top: Edmonton’s first iron lung purchased by the Women’s Auxiliary to during Edmonton’s polio epidemic.
Middle: The Women’s Auxiliary history wall located in the main entrance of the Royal Alexandra Hospital.
Bottom: The Women’s Auxiliary Gift Shop in the Robbins Pavilion operated solely by volunteers.

The original hospital site, first named the Boyle Street Hospital.

In May 2019, the Women’s Auxiliary celebrated their 120 years of service to the ever-growing hospital. The Auxiliary now comprises 82 women and men and remains the only hospital auxiliary in Western Canada made entirely of volunteers.

Throughout their 120 years, their focus has shifted several times, and now, funds raised from two volunteer-run gift shops allow them to do even more. 

Throughout the years the Women’s Auxiliary has shown their support for patients in so many ways. The group purchased the first iron lung and defibrillator during the polio epidemic, provided a committee of volunteer knitters and a mobile library for bed-bound patients. They also provided support for the da Vinci Robotic Surgical System, the only one of its kind dedicated to women’s health in Canada. And, most recently the group made a significant investment to bring a state-of-the-art Positron Emission Tomography-Computed Tomography scanner, commonly known as a PET/CT scanner, to the Royal Alex.

No matter their focus, the Women’s Auxiliary has always acted with patient care and comfort top of mind.

Happy anniversary to the amazing Women’s Auxiliary! Here’s to another 120 years!



Charles Park takes a quiet moment with his loyal pup Bella’s puppies to reflect after his life-changing cardiac incident. 

CHARLES PARK is a 67-year-old retired farmer who lives on his charming property just outside Ponoka, Alberta. His days are filled with little projects, keeping him busy while enjoying the fresh air. He loves waking up to the sights and smells of the farm that greet him each morning.

For roughly three months, Charles had been feeling upper chest pains and wondered what he had been lifting on his farm that was causing it. The muscle pains were always on the right side of his chest, and even though they were quite constant, Charles decided to ignore the pain and go about his usual activities.

One night, the pain that had become a common occurrence spread from his right side to his left.

“I’m a widower – I don’t have a good lady around to interpret these things,” Park said.

He remembered hearing somewhere that when you have a heart attack, you should take two aspirin, so he did. The pain left for a while and then came back.

Soon he had both arms propped up with pillows because the pain had gone from bad to worse. He took another pain killer and went to bed.

“I thought about it after. That $10,000 could have been the expense for a funeral instead, and that affected me. That’s why I chose to give.”

At three o’clock in the morning, he awoke, realizing that something was very wrong. Deciding he needed to talk to a doctor, he dressed and drove himself the ten kilometres to the local hospital in Ponoka.

After some tests and a short wait, hospital staff informed Charles that they were sending him to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton.

“They said I’d be getting a free ride into Edmonton the next morning,” said Park. “At that point, I knew it was more serious than I first thought.”

It was an angst-filled 90-minute drive between the two hospitals.

Upon arrival at the Royal Alexandra Hospital’s CK Hui Heart Centre radioactive dye identified two arteries were 90 per cent blocked.

“When I got to the CK Hui they shot me up with the radioactive dye to get me glowing like Homer Simpson,” a reference any fan of 90’s pop culture trivia will enjoy.

“The doctor told me I had nice straight arteries in my arm. So, they went in there. It wasn’t painful at all.”

Cardiologists were able to insert two stents in under an hour, opening up his arteries and preventing the need for open-heart surgery and alleviating the symptoms the two blockages were having on his health.

Later in bed, Charles ruminated on what had happened to him, marveling at the technology available that saved his life without major surgery.

“My dad had open-heart surgery when he was 80. He lived another 14 years, but that surgery was hard on him.”

Within several weeks, Charles was back to taking aqua fitness classes, and he now takes medications that help keep his arteries open.

Left with a feeling of profound gratitude from his experience, Charles picked up the phone and donated $10,000 to the CK Hui Heart Centre.

“I thought about it after. That $10,000 could have been the expense for a funeral instead, and that affected me. That’s why I chose to give.”

“Everyone at the CK Hui was so caring and thoughtful — the nurses, the doctor. They were business-like but very friendly. It put me at ease. It was my sincere pleasure to give back to this expert team that quite literally gave me the gift of life.”


As Alberta’s only dedicated women’s hospital, the Lois Hole Hospital for Women offers high-risk obstetrical and maternal care
as well as surgical treatment for women of all ages and in all stages of life. In the past year:


Ken Black remembers his wife Elizabeth through the beautiful dahlia flowers she grew in their backyard.

ELIZABETH LIDSTONE-BLACK was an accomplished businesswoman, a loving wife and a mother to three boys in the beautiful blended family she and her husband Ken Black created.  

She was the person everyone turned to when they had problems. She loved working with people, loved her work, and loved her family. She was beautiful both inside and out.

Her personality was captivating, and everyone who knew Elizabeth became a friend.

“She was always smiling, always laughing and the first one to give a hug to someone in need,” said Black. “Everyone always felt so welcome around her.”

To the world, Elizabeth seemed so put together and confident. However, what many didn’t know was that Elizabeth was silently suffering from depression.

Since the onset of menopause, Elizabeth had not been able to sleep. She faced memory loss, her moods were up and down, and she suffered from constant pain. Many days the thought of even leaving the couch was a burden too immense to bear.

More sleep, more exercise, Elizabeth tried everything suggested to her. She changed her diet and started an exercise program; still, she suffered.   

The happiness that once exuded from Elizabeth drained from her, leaving only an empty shell. At the age of 50, with so much living ahead of her, Elizabeth took her own life. 

“She left me a letter,” Black said. “She explained she was sorry, but she couldn’t do it anymore. She told me it wasn’t me and said that she knew there was something wrong with her, but couldn’t figure out what, and had to stop the pain.”

Statistics show that 28 percent of women face depression during their menopausal years, with that statistic rising to 59 percent for those who have a personal history of depression. There is a strong chance we all know someone like Elizabeth, who is suffering in silence.

“I believe there are other women out there who have depression during menopause, and they likely don’t know what is happening to them. The loss of my wife Elizabeth can’t be for nothing. I want others to know there is help available to them where and when they need it most.”

Help for women like Elizabeth is on the horizon. A virtual support program called Text4Menopause will soon be available to assist women experiencing menopause-related depressive symptoms thanks to Black, a champion of the fundraising effort, and donors to the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation.

“Text4Menopause is a novel and new approach to providing information and resources to women who are at risk of suffering from depression during menopause,” said Dr. Sue Ross, lead researcher on the project and Lois Hole Hospital for Women Cavarzan Chair in Mature Women’s Health Research. 

“Support for women will be available via an app that shares frequent informational and inspirational messages about the symptoms they are experiencing, letting them know they are not alone, and providing them with resources for where they can find help,” said Ross. 

“We know that there are symptoms and struggles the vast majority of women face during perimenopause. We also know that many women are unlikely to ask for help publicly. We want to empower women with information and the knowledge they are not alone. The Text4Menopause app will provide a discreet way for women, just like Elizabeth, to receive the help and support they need before it is too late.

“It is my honour to be part of such a meaningful and innovative project that will soon be funded thanks in large part due to gifts made in memory of Elizabeth.”  

Show your support today by completing the giving form included in this report, or by visiting today. On behalf of all women currently suffering in silence and those who hold them close, thank you for your support.


Pregnancy Pathways resident Candice Johnson (left) and Marla Lede-Bruder of the Cliff Lede Family Charitable Foundation and the William and Florence Lede Family Foundation bring their little ones together to celebrate the success of the life-changing program. 

AS MARLA LEDE-BRUDER stepped through the doors of the Pregnancy Pathways home, hand in hand with her two young children, a tangible link to her family was present. 

“It is so nice to be here and visit with the moms and their beautiful, healthy babies,” said Lede-Bruder. “It is easy to feel disconnected, and not truly understand the impact giving back to our community can have when you are simply reading about a cause on paper.” 

For two consecutive years now the Cliff Lede Family Charitable Foundation and the William and Florence Lede Family Foundation through Lede-Bruder’s leadership have chosen to support Pregnancy Pathways, a program that provides a home to pregnant and parenting women experiencing homelessness in Edmonton.

“Moms are moms no matter where you go,” said Lede-Bruder. “The moms here are going through all of the things we all go through with babies: sleepless nights, feeding challenges, diaper rashes, you name it we’ve all been there. It is lovely to be here and personally connect with the women who are thriving in the Pregnancy Pathways home.”    

In Edmonton alone, each year there are approximately 100 women experiencing homelessness while pregnant or parenting. Due in part to the significant support provided by the two Lede Foundations that number is now falling with its sight set on moving from 100 to none.

Pregnancy Pathways began as an idea from a group of physicians and leaders at the Lois Hole Hospital for Women, who then engaged what has now become more than twenty social service agencies in Edmonton to bring the idea to life. 

The program is designed to address the unmet housing and support service needs of pregnant, homeless women who are also in many cases struggling with addiction. Pregnancy Pathways is designed to ensure vulnerable women in the community can access health care and other supports free from judgement and fear of having their children taken from them.

Among the first group of women to take refuge in the home was Candice Johnson, whom Lede-Bruder had a chance to meet during her visit.

“The Pregnancy Pathways home is the best thing that ever happened to me,” said Johnson. “The other women here and the staff became my family when I had no one else. This program changed my life.”

“Being a mom is challenging, and you need a support system to draw on,” said Lede-Bruder. “The human connections built through the Pregnancy Pathways program played a considerable role in what drew our family foundations to the project. Knowing that we can help women begin or continue their journey through motherhood while simultaneously being surrounded by a supportive community is incredibly rewarding.” 



Dr. Rachel Mandel’s parents Stephen and Lynn Mandel (left), join Rachel’s son Chase and husband Mike Tighe to honour Rachel in the courtyard of Mike’s co-working space “The Creative Hive”.

THE MOMENT Rachel Mandel stepped into her optometrist’s office as a child, the profession captured her attention. The equipment fascinated her, and thus began a thirty-year mission to fulfil her dream of becoming an optometrist herself. A career that focused on care and compassion was a perfect fit for Mandel.

“Her commitment to working hard and never giving up is an inspiration to all,” said Rachel’s father and former Edmonton mayor and MLA Stephen Mandel. “She accomplished so much in her life, and that is everything to me.”

Many optometrists divide their time between the provision of eye care and the sale of glasses, but not Rachel. After working at the Gimbel Eye Centre, Rachel opened her own office, Edge Optometry where patient-focused care was her singular goal. 

“Rachel was very passionate about eye health,” said Lynn Mandel, Rachel’s mother. “She didn’t sell glasses. Instead, she focused all of her efforts on diagnosis and care of her patients free of any other business distractions.” 

In place of the investment required to offer her patients a retail eyeglasses shop, Rachel invested in specialized equipment called the Daytona that both enhanced her clinical decision making ability and assisted her in the prevention of vision loss for her patients by helping to identify disease sooner and manage it more effectively.

“It was always more about the patients Rachel cared for than the business of running an optometry office,” said Mike Tighe, Rachel’s husband.

It wasn’t until May of 2015 that Rachel found herself on the other side of the care equation after a lymphoma diagnosis. 

“Throughout her battle with cancer Rachel was still so attentive to others,” said Tighe. “Our son Chase was her world, and her friends and our family continued to be her focus no matter how sick she became.”

After losing her fight, Rachel’s friends and family wanted to do something to honour her memory and recognize the contributions she made to the optometry profession.

“Rachel wasn’t one for recognition,” said Lynn Mandel. “A donation and subsequent naming of one of the care pods at the Eye Institute of Alberta was a way for friends and family of Rachel to come together and do something in her honour,” said Lynn Mandel.

“I was thrilled with the idea, and I am so grateful to see her honoured in such a significant way. She might not like the acknowledgement, but we know she would be proud that her passion for eye health will live on through investments made at the Eye Institute of Alberta that will benefit patients for years to come.”

Improving patient care is at the heart of the mission of the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation, and the foundation holds a strong commitment to the importance of art as part of creating a holistic healing environment. 

The space that honours the personal legacy of Dr. Rachel Mandel offers a particular nod to Rachel. Rachel was an ardent supporter of artist and performer Bruce Horak, who paints with only 10% vision in one eye. Despite this, he is an accomplished artist, and Rachel took pleasure in promoting his works. He created the portrait of Rachel that was inspired by a photograph of her holding a green balloon. Rachel had many of Bruce’s paintings on display in her Edge Optometry office. 

Selikke Janes-Kelley

Site Executive Director
Royal Alexandra Hospital

Janie Clink

Site Executive Director
Royal Alexandra Hospital

Dr. Curtis Johnston, MD, FRCP(C)

Associate Zone Medical Director,
Royal Alexandra Hospital & Sturgeon Community Hospital Co-Facility Medical Director, Royal Alexandra Hospital

Your gifts allow for innovation, care and solutions that are critical to the best patient outcomes possible. Your financial contributions and donations of time create an impact in the lives of our patients and their families every day at the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Thanks to you those struggling with mental health or addictions now have a place to go 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Thanks to you homeless and pregnant or parenting women now have a refuge and a place to call home. Thanks to you we honour loved ones lost through improvements to patient care inspired by their story. 

Every gift, no matter its size or shape, is vital and treasured. 

From all of us, and on behalf of our patients, their families and our staff – thank you.

Dr. Curtis Johnston  |  Selikke Janes-Kelley  |  Janie Clink

1. John Cameron
2. Paavo Montandon, BA, CIP, CRM
3. Kimberly Shulha
4. Dr. Zaheer Lakhani, CM, FRCP
Vice Chair
5. George Coon, FCPA, FCMA, ICD.D, CFP
6. Liza J. Wold
7. Brian Tod, QC
8. Diane Kyle-Buchanan
9. Paul Lanni, FCPA, FCA

10. Krista Ference
11. Mez Irani
12. Alain Moore
13. Dan Lefaivre, FCPA, FCMA, ICD.D
17. Elizabeth Hurley, ICD.D
18. Jerry L. Kavanagh, FCPA, FCA, CPA (Illinois, USA)
19. David S. Tam, BScPharm, LLB
20. Iris Evans
21. Dr. Bill Anderson, MD, FRCP(C), FCAR


22. Andrew Otway, MBA, CFRE
President & CEO, Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation


23. Dale Sheard
24. Mary Jo Robbins
25. William K. Robbins


14. Selikke Janes-Kelley
Site Executive Director,
Royal Alexandra Hospital
15. Dr. Curtis Johnston, MD, FRCP(C)
Associate Zone Medical Director,
RAH & SCH Co-Facility Medical Director, RAH
16. Judith Hockney, BN, MN, RAH, SCH
Senior Operating Officer




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To make a donation or
for more information, please visit:

780 735 4723

Royal Alexandra
Hospital Foundation

10240 Kingsway,
Edmonton, AB

T5H 3V9



The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation is accredited by Imagine Canada for excellence and compliance in five key areas of operations: Board Governance, Financial Accountability and Transparency. Fundraising, Staff Management, and Volunteer Involvement.

Canadian Charitable Registration Number:
11912 6217 RR0001