As Breast Cancer month began, I spoke with MUHC Foundation President Julie Quenneville for my podcast. Our discussion can be heard here.
Most of our conversation covers the needs met by the annual Enchantée fundraiser for the MUHC Breast Clinic wellness program. This year’s event takes place next Thursday, October 18th, 2018 at the Le Mount Stephen from 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Tickets cost $200 each and can be purchased online.
The event is important enough for Montreal that I also prepared a story for the Suburban.
Julie and I are friends and members of the same club, so you’ll probably notice that some of my questions reflect a deep admiration of her work. Yet I’ve never before heard her talk about her Canadian identity and her work with the Banff Forum trying to figure out why kind of country we want to live in. Just goes to show you that podcasts can reveal fascinating facets of people.
Here’s the transcript of our conversation.
Julie Quenneville: [00:01:09] So we do a lot of fundraising that is globally for the priority needs of the MUHC. And we also do some very targeted fundraising that is for certain diseases departments and linked to of course the priority needs of those areas. So this event is particular to support the breast center and its own priorities. It’s a great opportunity to engage not only the staff, the physicians but also the patients and their families in a fundraising initiative. So when you’re very targeted, it allows them to feel like they’re giving back and really working towards a common goal. It can be quite empowering for the patients.
How did it start?[00:02:01] Well it was the committee that the three co-chairs actually sitting down with physicians and it started off with very specific needs. So not people in general but a need that is not being met in the community and that’s lymphedema. Have you ever heard of that? [00:02:20] No.
And so we actually have the Canadian lead physician who has been really leading the battle to get lymphedema care covered across the country. Her name is Dr. Anna Tower. And so it was in meetings obviously with Doctor Tower throughout the last couple of years, our foundation has always covered those services. I would say probably for the last decade. And in the breast center, we cover the services for our patients as well. And so anyone who is afflicted with this is at least will have access to care.
Now that’s not good enough. I think everyone else in the province should have access, but at least we’re doing our part in making sure that our patients are taken care of.
So the conversation started with lymphedema and saying to ourselves well with the patients how do we make sure that these services continue because they’re not covered by government and what else can we do to not only improve the survival rate but also improve their quality of life post-surgery and treatment?[00:04:30] So I just looked at a picture of what lymphedema is. This is extreme. The picture I’m looking at looks extreme in various ways. One just makes it look kind of blotty and then right up to legs that are clearly five times bigger than what they were prior to the disease. [00:04:59] For breast cancer patients, it would be mostly the arms, because it’s in the areas that you remove the lymph nodes, and in breast cancer that would be the arms. But it’s a high number 25 percent. In all the cancers, ovarian cancer and breast cancer, patients are the most affected by this. [00:08:32] I can see why they don’t want to leave home. They’ve become a whole different person and they’ve already just gone through a very traumatic situation anyway because they’ve just survived breast cancer. [00:08:40] Their quality of life is affected.
So we have three co-chairs. So Cynthia Price and Jo Anne Rudy have been heavily involved in the Quebec Breast Cancer Foundation throughout probably the last 20 years and Anna is a breast cancer survivor. So you know they were personally touched by these issues.
So, on top of the lymphedema services, the funds raised from this event—this is the second annual event—are going to the wellness program.
So that includes lymphedema but it also goes above and beyond. It includes:
Now I noticed last year you raised 120,000 dollars.
Exactly. That was our first event.
Yeah and how many patients would that cover
I don’t know off the top of my head but we can certainly pull that number and get back to you.
Okay perfect. And I noticed that this particular event is taking place at the Mount Stephen on October 18, which is a pretty good location. Was it there last year as well?[00:10:31]It was there last year as well. They’ve been a very good partner. It’s a very nice place and as you know it’s important in these fundraising events to find something that is central and is a bit different from other events. [00:10:39] So you had 200 guests last year. Do you know how many people are reserved so far this year? [00:10:43] We’re still in the middle of the sale. So we’re still confident to be able to surpass last year.
So this year we’ve added a partner foundation. We’re always striving to collaborate with others because that’s the best way to help our patients. So the Cedar’s Cancer Foundation, which is a foundation of the MUHC, has joined forces with us to make this event even more successful. The Cedar Cancer Foundation is heavily involved with the Rossy Cancer Network, which you know if you look back in past announcements, is funded obviously by the Rossy family and is a way to break down the silos between the MUHC, McGill, JJH and St. Mary’s for Cancer Care and all of the foundations related also contribute to the pot. Any time there is a funded project everyone is engaged and everyone contributes financially, including the Rossy Network.[00:11:35] OK. So then you have a network of people who are already behind your project when it gets launched.
In all of cancer, because the patients flow through these various areas, you know we have incredible complementarity where we don’t duplicate the services. There are certain cancers which we are specialized in. Certain cancers will go to the Jewish. And of course, there are some cancers that go to St. Mary’s. So this way we make sure that the patients are always in the best place and are being treated by the best team possible for their cancer.[00:11:59] Did you find last year that there were new partners this year because of the event last year? [00:12:06] Well it allowed us to start a conversation. And that’s that’s the key right? Even though we’re not raising millions through a fund-raising event, it allows us to meet patients who are interested in giving back and interested in getting involved. Absolutely there were many conversations that went in other directions and many many of the attendees became important donors as well to the program. [00:12:27] Well and then what happens in your job I think we have got a higher level in your job you actually handle a heck of a lot of events. How do you handle it? I mean just give me a sort of an overview of a day in your life it can’t be easy because everything is so emotional. I mean you’re dealing with life and death.
So a day in my life is every day I meet physicians, nurses or patients who are looking to work together to find solutions. But it’s also empowering Tracey.
There’s always no one of the things I learned in being in health care for this long is that there’s always a way to make it work. If you get everybody around the table engaged in finding a solution, you do find a solution, and that’s empowering.[00:13:43] Can you give me an example of something like that? Perhaps something not connected to this event. But in terms of something that looks like a very difficult situation that you were able to find a solution?
So he had a patient at one point and there were quite a few publications around this case, who came from one of the regions of Quebec so out of the McGill Territory who was 32 years and who was in palliative care at the time and no physician he had seen was able to identify the source so they had to put him into palliative care. For a father, that’s difficult to swallow at 32 years old. It turns out what he had was basically thrush in his brain. It’s really hard to get rid of thrush. It turns out that through the work that our physician did, he mixed medication and eventually he found that a mixture of two medications for other diseases actually worked for this patient and he was sent home to be with his family. And this is a physician that we fund heavily because of course, this kind of research is so ultra=specialized that it takes a lot of tender loving care but it’s very encouraging because it reminds us that we are able to pull off miracles when we have dedicated people.
So is that patient is still alive. Has he become one of your donors?
I can’t tell you that, because obviously, that information is confidential.[00:15:23] But he is certainly unbelievably grateful and I’m sure every time he tells his story about what happened to him and his family it is important for the hospital and also important for Montreal.
It is a very very very powerful story and it shows that if you keep working hard, there are miracles. Not very many people think about a fundraiser as a miracle worker.
Well, we make the difference as a foundation we make the difference between quality and excellence. We fund innovation.[00:16:04] There is no government budget to fund innovation. That is really the drive that the community has. There’s also no budget in the government for development of new equipment. So when there’s a piece of equipment a new piece of technology on the market, the foundations support that. The existing budget is really just for the replacement of the existing platform. So what we do is we make the difference between quality care and excellent care which is what we all want and what we should all demand. [00:16:37] And well how much do you have specific about how much your foundation supports above and beyond the budget of the MUHC. [00:16:50It’s important to note that we don’t fund items that are covered in the operating budget. We always cover what’s above and beyond. So just to make sure that we don’t confuse that. We raised last year 24 billion in revenue plus our investments. So that was a record-breaking year for us. That’s a 25 percent increase in revenue. [00:17:17] Congratulations.
How long have you been there?[00:17:24] It’ll be three years in October.
So that result is really in part due to your leadership. You can take credit for a lot of that.
It’s thanks to the entire team, the staff, the board and the physicians who are working with us that we were able to have that kind of success.[00:18:29] Now donors are all patients.
Do you have a relationship with any of the francophone funders or foundations? Do you do any joint projects?[00:18:50] So we’ve had a very long joint corporate campaign with the CHUM Foundation and this was to build the two new hospitals. It was a great success. We had a wonderful collaboration between the two foundations and the two institutions and we have you know we are preparing now for our next big fund-raising initiatives and some of them will be in collaboration not only with them but we hope with other hospitals across the province. The funding agents across the country for research are asking for it and the donors are asking for it as well that we work more and more together. So we plan to do that.
I also sit on the board of directors with a really important group called the Banff Forum where we strive to find solutions to break down those barriers across the country from east to west. We’re meeting next week and this is part of on my personal time one of the areas that I find most important and I hope to be able to contribute.
We should be defining what kind of country we want to live in in the next 20, 30 years. So it’s a group of very very passionate young Canadians.
Although I’m not so young, they are very young and very engaged. We meet officially for a conference once a year, but we have many chapter provincial meetings as well and seminars. We talk about the environment and indigenous issues. We talk about politics. Many politicians from every party come and speak with us as well to be able to have that diversity of conversation. We talk about culture. And it’s really about building that curiosity and seeking solutions and all of the members who—we are very careful to welcome the members that represent different diversity of different age groups and different cultural backgrounds and make sure that these are all individuals that are also incredibly engaged in their communities and so they bring back this information and knowledge to their own work into their networks.
And so the meeting next week is actually in Yellowknife. We’re going to Inuvik first and then in Yellowknife. We’ll be visiting from villages communities and we’ll be hearing from them are their challenges and seeing it for ourselves. I’m hoping to have some time to go visit some of the clinics that are there as well. And somehow, of course, it’s impossible not to have an impact on perception.[00:26:40] We’re all very anxious to hear from them Yeah exactly. Well, will you have any presentations about your experience in the future?
None are planned.[00:26:53] This is a closed group because we want to make sure that everyone can speak very openly. But of course, you know you cannot leave such an event without changing as a person in your own perception changes. So I’d be happy to speak with you afterwards if you’d like. [00:27:14] That would be wonderful thank you very much.
During World War I, 4,000 people, many of them women, assembled eight million fuzes in a building locally known as “La Poudrière.” Given that the job required mounting a detonator cap over a gunpowder relay charge and attaching a safety pin (read more about WWI fuses here), the job was risky and monotonous at the same time.
Who were these people? How can we honour their work?
Recently, I was looking through the records of World War I soldiers and realized that their records may offer us ways to perhaps figure out who some of our homefront heroines are too. I discovered several women who moved to Verdun within walking distance of the armament plant while their husbands or brothers served overseas.
When Ethel Henrietta Murray’s husband Patrick volunteered for the Canadian Over-Seas Expeditionary Force on Wednesday, April 12, 1916, the couple lived at 80 Anderson Street, in downtown Montreal.
According to his military records, by the time he died on October 29, 1917, driving with the 4th Brigade of the Canadian Field Artillery, her first name was Henrietta and she had moved to 1251 Wellington Street. Later, she lived at 956 Ethel Street.
None of her addresses exist anymore, nor have I yet found any evidence explaining why she moved to Verdun. Based on her address and circumstances, however, I suspect that she—and three other women who lived nearby—worked at “la poudrière.”
La Poudrière is the local colloquial name for a building that currently houses 64 units for senior citizens. The Canadien Slavowic Association (l’Association canadienne slave de Montréal) operates the space.
I also haven’t yet looked into the records of the company to find out if there is a list of employees so that I can see if Ethel or Henrietta Murray appears on their rolls.
Other women I’d like to verify include Marjorie Victoria Stroude Luker, Ellen or Helen Elizabeth Winsper, and Mrs. John Sullivan. These three women also lived within walking distance of la poudrière between 1916 and 1919.
Military records include the addresses of these women because all of them received telegrams about loved ones being wounded or killed overseas.
Marjorie’s husband Arthur was wounded in Italy on August 20, 1917, and then died of the flu in Belgium on December 2018. Although the couple lived in Point St. Charles when he signed up, her benefits were sent to her at 714 Ethel Street by the time he died.
Ellen or Helen Elizabeth Winsper, the wife of George Winsper who died on November 7, 1917, had moved from Rosemont to 196 St. Charles Street in Pointe St. Charles by the time he died.
Two records mention the grief of Mrs. John Sullivan when Private William Wright, a steamfitter from Scotland, died in action at St. Julien on April 24, 1915. Neither have her first name. One document describes William, who was 21 when he died as the adopted child of Mr. and Mrs. John Sullivan. Another one, and the one I think is more correct, mentions that she is his sister. Her address at the beginning of the war was 9 Farm Street, Point St. Charles, the same as his when he enlisted. His medals were sent to her at 431A Wellington St., Point St. Charles.
If these women worked together, as is possible, they too risked their lives.
Employees with the British Munition Supply Company–which was created by The British Government under the auspices of The Imperial Munitions Board–faced the possibility of accidental explosions. Britain paid $175,000 in 1916 to construct a building that could contain shockwaves. It also included a saw-tooth roof to prevent sunlight from entering.
The IMB had inherited from Sir Samuel Hughes’s Shell Committee orders for artillery shells worth more than $282 million, contracts with over 400 different factories, and supervision of the manufacture of tens of millions of shells and ancillary parts. Its most serious problem was acquiring time and graze, or percussion, fuses for the shells produced by its factories. There was no capacity to create and assemble these precision parts in Canada, and contracts with American companies had proved dismal failures. The problem was given to Gordon to solve. He recommended that fuse manufacturing be done in Canada. The IMB set up its own factory in Verdun (Montreal) to make the delicate time fuses. Skilled workmen and supervisors were quickly brought over from Britain to train Canadian workers. British Munitions Limited, the IMB’s first “national factory,” was open for business by the spring of 1916. The last order from Britain, for 3,000,000 fuses, came in 1917 and the last fuses were shipped in May 1918. British Munitions was then converted by the IMB into a shell-manufacturing facility.
Another source I read said that Dominion Textile Company purchased the site for its textile operations when the war ended in 1919. Two decades later, Defence Industries Limited revived the site for a shell factory during World War II, between 1940 and 1945. David Fennario’s book “Motherhouse” offers a good look at the women’s lives during this second wartime era.
 Attestation Paper, Library and Archives Canada, RG 150, #347740, Patrick Murray, a derivative copy of the original signed by Patrick.
 Address card, ibid.
 Attestation Paper and address card, Library and Archives Canada, RG 150, #1054006, Arthur Luker.
 Attestation Paper and address card, Library and Archives Canada, RG 150, #920146, George Winsper.
 Library and Archives Canada, RG 150, #26024, William Wright.
 “Usine à munitions pour retraités slaves” by Raphaël Dallaire Ferland, ttps://www.ledevoir.com/societe/354100/usine-a-munitions-pour-retraites-slaves, accessed September 22, 2018.
 Biography – GORDON, SIR CHARLES BLAIR – Volume XVI (1931-1940) – Dictionary of Canadian Biography, http://www.biographi.ca/en/bio/gordon_charles_blair_16F.html, accessed September 22, 2018.
This week, I’m publishing my interview with Brad Semmelhack, a portfolio manager with Crystalline Management, an alternative investment house in Montreal. Crystalline celebrates 20 years of existence this month. Congratulations, Mark, Brad and the team.
Brad and I spoke in a room at the top of a tower on Sherbrooke Street looking out over the city. It was stunningly beautiful.Listen to Unapologetically Canadian Episode 10: Alternative Investing with Bradley Semmelhaack
A transcript of our conversation follows, but if, like me, you want to brush up on some finance industry basics first, check out investment basics from the Financial Consumer Agency, the pdf “Investment at a glance” from the Canadian Securities Administrators and the Bank of Canada’s portrait of hedge funds in Canada.
Here’s the transcript:
[00:01:25] Thank you Tracey. Yeah, Crystalline. We’re actually celebrating our 20th year and it was founded by my partner and CEO Marc Amirault who had worked for 15 years at the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and decided to take the strategy that he was implementing at the Caisse to a smaller business to fulfill a dream if you will and to be able to have more flexibility and do his own thing really and be independent.
You know there’s got to be five or six different regulators that oversee us between people who are looking for tax evaders in the United States, terrorists who are trying and trying to hide their money in different places, etc. The AMF we’re trying to make sure that we do things according to the rules the RCMP are making sure that we’re not that there are no fraudsters.[00:18:29] You know we get an awful lot of people. I’m often told. Hey, you hedge funds you’re not you’re not regulated. Nobody oversees you and I’m like OK how many times you’ve been audited in the last 20 years? And they’ll say oh I don’t know auditors by the AMF. Well, maybe once or twice and I’ll say they typically come in here every four years. And the last time they spent three weeks, four of them. [00:18:48] So wow. So please don’t tell me that I am not regulated because they went through every single piece of paper we had with a fine tooth comb and they made sure that everything was was on the level and copacetic and cross-referenced.
What is their stake in this and what outcome is best for them? Who has control over this outcome and what’s the best outcome for them. And how much control do they have on making that outcome happen?[00:27:59] And that’s usually that’s usually the best path towards the most likely outcome no matter how difficult it is to get to that outcome or how unlikely it might seem. That’s usually what comes about. [00:28:16] That’s an awesome answer. It’s a philosophical answer too that it fits into many things, not just finances. [00:28:22] Well it’s just you know it’s amazing that you know the people who control the company if they have a lot of stock that stock that company is not going bankrupt. If they have no stock, the company is likely to go bankrupt. If they own bonds, that portion of the capital structure will be protected. If there’s a bank in there, and the bank owns management, well the bank’s going to be protected. [00:28:59] And anything is possible. And you know even with all the regulatory oversight, it’s very often there are fait accomplit that happens and then once you’re put into that situation, it doesn’t really matter what came before, there’s a new reality and that’s the new reality. [00:29:19] A good example was in the case of Bell Canada when they were supposed to be taken over. Way back over 10 years ago. That was a case that went all the way to the Supreme Court where the bondholders had been assured with personal knowledge personally in their offices staring in the eyes from the management of the company that the company would never ever do anything that would that would risk their investment grade credit. And that’s why it was not necessary to put into writing and legal form protections against a leveraged buyout that would that would compromise the value of those bonds. [00:30:01] And it went all the way to the Supreme Court that the company was allowed to go against the word that they gave. It went back and forth. [00:30:09] That was it was that was the so-so verbal contracts no longer exist at least not, in that case, one or even written contracts today can go against Oh no no. [00:30:21] If any legal laws. I mean we had a bankruptcy where we had to go to court and prove that there was a there where the bank was going to charge for a loan for a loan in bankruptcy too much. [00:30:40] And the judge had approved that because it was a very big company within a very tight spot. [00:30:48] And that was the only option for the company was to accept the terms of that loan and we had to really do an awful lot of legal work in that court to have that amount reduced. Wow. [00:31:05] And it was it was like the judge said yes this loan is too expensive but I’m going to accept it because that’s the company’s the money tomorrow morning if not it stops the company from operating. [00:31:19] And that is you know that is often an overriding principle. And. [00:31:25] OK. So whether that company that is very much like bankruptcy law or whether they were in bankruptcy. [00:31:31] And yeah you have to you know a lot of a lot is often said about capital markets and you know investors want this and investors want that. [00:31:39] But in Canada the responsibility of the people running the company which is ultimately the directors who are who are responsible. Their responsibility is to the corporation and its stakeholders and in the law, that is often applied as being very much including suppliers and employees and the business and the I mean the whole point to law is to allow businesses to continue. So it makes sense that when something comes before a court that the overriding philosophy of a judge should be how is this going to continue? How is this process going to end so that it has the best outcome for the Canadian economy and that is the judges really go to a lot of trouble to try and see through what all the lawyers are trying to do because the lawyers are just acting and you know they’re trying to prove their case and that’s their job too. And then the judge has to really cut through that and understand all what the lawyers were telling them over the days and days and days that they have to listen to all this and then you know give a judgment on how you know what the best outcome is for all the parties concerned depending on what all the promises that were made before each of them. [00:33:02] Right. So that’s for Canada as a whole which leads to my last question is about you personally as well. I like how you go into the philosophy world away from getting on you know who you are. And your last question is