Celebrating over 70 years of support

Claude Gagnon, Montreal
Future in research

Since its founding in 1945, the Cancer Research Society has awarded over $326 million to some of the most promising cancer research projects in Canada. Over 3500 projects have been funded in over 90 Canadian institutions to further the prevention, detection, and treatment of all types of cancers, most of which were made possible thanks to the generosity of our donors.

Historically, the Society started fundraising through its Units. Each Society member had to pay a yearly contribution to be part of the Society and become part of a Unit (constituted mainly of motivated women in the 1940s and 50s). These Units then organized everything from bake sales to fashion shows to raise money for cancer research.

Alongside the hard work of these motivated housewives, the Society has also counted on numerous corporate partners and sponsors, none of whom have been with us longer than the Bank of Montreal.

The Bank of Montreal, more commonly known as BMO, has been one of the Society’s corporate partners since 1948. It has helped fund over $3 million in cancer research through event sponsorships and the BMO Cancer Research Society Mastercard initiative that has been in place since 1998.

“Preventing cancer instead of treating a cancer is a phenomenal thing,” says Claude Gagnon, the President of BMO Financial Group Quebec.

“We’ve been on the Cancer Research Society board, as well as giving important financial contributions for a long time because research matters. One of BMO’s priorities is to help create a more open, more inclusive society that makes people’s lives better, and an essential way of doing that is through helping people live happier, healthier lives.”

As the first Canadian bank, BMO has been at the forefront of critical societal shifts since 1817. For the organization, investing in healthcare can help a maximum number of people live life to its fullest, a notion with which Claude Gagnon has some personal experience.

“My wife passed away in 2016 after having fought breast cancer on and off for over 30-years. Some of my children have the BCRA gene as well, and it’s a huge part of what has brought my awareness of how despite the scientific advancements we have today, medication sometimes can’t do much. New technologies have helped us move forward, but we still have a ways to go. There are still too many young people that die from cancer.”

The key to outsmarting this disease lies in research. 

The evolution of our knowledge and understanding of cancer is accelerating at an unprecedented rate. We’re learning more about the causes and understanding why the same cancers will have different effects on different individuals and why specific treatments are efficient for some and not for others.

“We’re now at a point in time where we can predict whether or not someone is susceptible to developing certain cancers and illnesses based on their genes. We can follow these patterns and information to better understand and, in certain cases, prevent the development of a disease. We need research to help move this forward as quickly as possible. When we find answers, we need to keep asking questions and continue unravelling the mysteries of cancer.”

For BMO, one way to continue outsmarting cancer is through the financing of future generations of Scientists like Liis Uuskula-Remaind, Elena Kuzmin, and Amélie Fradet-Turcotte.

“In the STEM industries, in particular, there is a well-known gender disparity that is slowly but surely shifting. For BMO, it is important to help create and contribute to equal opportunities for all individuals. Hence, when we see an imbalance, especially in a specific domain, our first reflex is to eliminate barriers and allow everyone to fulfill their full potential.”

Cancer research will help provide a better future for our loved ones and all those surrounding us. 

If Claude and BMO’s engagement has inspired you, please consider donating today.

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Liis, Elena and Amélie, Canada
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Cancer researchers are nothing if not dedicated to their cause. A majority of the Cancer Research Society’s funding to Canadian researchers takes the shape of Operating grants, which provide established cancer researchers with a two-year grant to continue their groundbreaking research. We also offer many other funding opportunities such as our UpCycle grants, our strategic … Read more