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We are Wellspring

About Us

Our Mission: Wellspring Calgary is a warm and welcoming community that provides a comprehensive range of support, resources and programs so anyone living with cancer and the people who care for them can improve the quality of their lives.

Our Vision: No one has to face cancer alone.

Who We Serve: Individuals living with cancer – those diagnosed, caregivers and kids – throughout southern Alberta. We also welcome members from outside of southern Alberta.

Wellspring helps to heal the mind, heart and spirit.

Our Purpose

A cancer diagnosis can be devastating. It brings countless life-altering moments and events for the people who receive the diagnosis and for those who love them. People with cancer are compelled to find a ‘new normal,’ before, during and after treatment. Priorities shift, relationships change, life is … different.

At Wellspring, people living with cancer tell us what helps them the most is having access to information, receiving support, and learning new ways to cope. They also tell us the cancer journey has two roads: medical and emotional.

We have excellent medical resources to fight cancer, but people who have cancer need so much more. Individuals and their loved ones often have difficulty finding the emotional, social and practical support they so urgently require. The support provided by Wellspring becomes a vital complement to medical treatment.

In Calgary and throughout southern Alberta, only Wellspring devotes itself exclusively to the unique non-medical impacts of cancer. At Wellspring, people with cancer, their families and caregivers can exchange information, develop a support system and create a sense of hope, in the warm, caring atmosphere of our centres, and in our welcoming online community.

Our Centres

In addition to our southern Alberta satellite sites, Wellspring Calgary also has two physical centres, located in Calgary, Alberta and provides online programs to anyone, anywhere.

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Carma House

Located eight minutes west of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre (and the new Calgary Cancer Centre) Carma House is a warm, welcoming community where cancer patients, caregivers and families gather to take part in programs and connect with others on a similar path.

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Randy O’Dell House

Located just south of Calgary’s South Health Campus, Randy O’Dell House in Seton, offers the space and capacity to serve and provide vital supports to far more Albertans living with cancer.

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Online House

Come be part of our supportive online community where you can access evidence-informed programs facilitated by experienced leaders and professionals in the cancer community from the comfort of your own home.

We acknowledge that we live, work and play on traditional territories in Alberta of the many First Nations’ Treaties 6, 7 and 8, Metis and Inuit. We pay tribute to those whose footsteps have marked these lands for centuries, and the gifts provided by Elders and Knowledge Keepers.

Wellspring Collaborations

Wellspring is privileged to have so many incredible partners. 

History of Wellspring 

(the Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation) 

When Toronto lawyer Anne Armstrong-Gibson learned she had cancer, along with other fears about treatment, survival, and her family’s future, she experienced an overwhelming sense of isolation. Recognizing that isolation is a common experience among cancer patients, she became determined to fill the void. With the help and encouragement of leading experts in oncology, Anne worked with family, friends, and supporters to establish the Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation, a non-profit, charitable organization offering free social, emotional and informational support to individuals living with cancer and their loved ones. 

Three cancer survivors dedicated to making life less isolating and more manageable for cancer patients and their caregivers founded Wellspring Calgary in 2006. Wellspring is an affiliate of Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation in Toronto. 

History of Wellspring Calgary 

In late 1999, an article featuring Wellspring appeared in the Globe and Mail. The Wellspring story inspired cancer survivor and Calgary businessman John Stephure, to approach the director of the Tom Baker Cancer Centre with a proposal to establish a Wellspring centre that would serve cancer patients and their families in Calgary and area. Following preliminary planning, John Stephure met with Calgary cancer survivors Rita Egizii and Barbara Cunnings who shared John’s vision for a centre of support. 

Together, John, Rita and Barbara became Wellspring Calgary’s founding members. They assembled a Board of Directors, legally incorporated, and obtained charitable status in early 2006. The newly incorporated Board raised two years of operating capital (an expectation of the Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation) and signed an affiliation agreement with the Wellspring Cancer Support Foundation. Wellspring Calgary formally launched programs in rented space in 2007, and in the spring of 2009, moved into its first centre, gifted and built by Carma Developers, now Brookfield Residential Properties, in celebration of its 50-year anniversary. Sadly, after a short struggle with a recurrence of the cancer he had fought for 11 yearsco-founder John Stephure passed away on June 28, 2009. 

2006
Three co-founders (John Stephure, Rita Egizii, and Barbara Cunnings) came together with a shared cancer experience and combined research and resources to create Wellspring Calgary, supported by Patti Morris and team.
2007
Wellspring Calgary commenced operations in leased space in Parkdale.
2007
Formed a partnership with Dr. Nicole Culos-Reed, University of Calgary, to provide Wellspring members with cancer-specific exercise programming.
2009
Carma House was generously built and donated by Carma Developers (now Brookfield Residential). Wellspring Calgary lost friend and co-founder John Stephure to cancer.
2010
We reached $6 million endowment goal thanks to 17-plus community donors.
2012
First southern Alberta collaboration with Camrose Primary Care Network.
2013
We launched Money Matters program, a solution-based program with significant positive impact in the lives of those facing employment, financial and insurance barriers during their cancer journey.
2014
A south pilot show home project was opened, thanks to Cedarglen Homes.
2015
Started Speaker Series collaboration in High River with the High River Cancer Centre, as well as programs in Okotoks alongside community partners.
Started Speaker Series collaboration with South Health Campus Wellness Centre.
2016
A temporary space at Fountain Court in SE Calgary was opened to expand programs and serve those living in south Calgary and area. Calgary business owner Randy O’Dell provided a $4 million transformational gift to name the new permanent location in south Calgary. Also, a private family foundation pledged $500,000 towards this expansion.
2017
Wellspring officially launched the Campaign for Wellspring Calgary with a goal of $12.9 million, including construction of Randy O’Dell House, member services and program delivery, and to increase the current sustainability fund.
2019
Randy O’Dell House opened after the Campaign for Wellspring Calgary exceeded its campaign goal, raising $13.2 million from the generous support of individuals, foundations, corporations, construction and government partners.
2020
Launch of our online programs and expansion to communities in the southern Alberta region – from Red Deer south to the Canadian border.
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Leadership

Our team is made of people who are passionate about serving our mission.

Senior Leadership Team

Sheena Clifford

Acting Chief Executive Officer

Janice Van Coughnett

Philanthropy Director

Steve Ironside

Finance Director

Suzanne Polyak

Communications Director

Niki Fehr

Acting Program Director

Board of Directors

Bill (William) G. Gilliland

ICD.D Partner, Dentons Canada LLP

Chair

David Harvie

Executive VP, Corporate Development Brookfield Residential (Retired)

Past Chair

Steven Reilly, CFA

Energy Marketing Consultant Windcraft Corporation

Treasurer

Jean Disturnal, MD

Secretary

Dr. Victoria David

Internal Medicine Resident, University of Calgary

Director

Alexandra (Alex) Federucci

VP, People & Business Process Integration, TC Energy (Retired)

Director

Sean Fujikawa

Manager, Project Services – Major Projects, Pembina Pipeline Corporation

Director

Ryan Gellatly, CA

Manager, Financial Reporting, DIRTT Environmental Solutions

Director

Dr. Sean McFadden

General Thoracic Surgeon, Foothills Hospital

Director

Lindsay Morgan

Manager, Commercial Marketing, Athabasca Oil Corporation

Director

Dr. Alison Murray

Palliative Care Consultant, AHS

Director

Kent Parlee

Financial Planner, Investment & Retirement Planning, Royal Bank of Canada

Director

Wes Tatebe

Vice President, Investment Advisor, CIBC Wood Gundy

Director

Rod Wilson

GM Business Development, Petrogas Energy Corp

Director

Nancy Wright

Nurse (Retired)

Director