Home › About Cedars › History of Cedars

History of Cedars

Almost 50 years ago, a dedicated group of community-minded individuals joined forces to fight cancer. Since its inception so many years ago, the Cedars Cancer Foundation at the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) has established itself as an independent leader in comprehensive cancer care in Montreal. By raising much-needed funds for medical equipment and facilities, research, and education, Cedars provides invaluable tools, knowledge, and support services to individuals and families who are coping with the disease.

Cedars Cancer Foundation of the McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) was originally established in 1966 as the Harley Chamandy Memorial Fund of the Royal Victoria Hospital. It later became the Cedars Cancer Research Fund. Planting the seeds for what is today the Cedars Cancer Foundation were a dedicated group from the Lebanese community of Montreal. The original purpose of the organization was, and continues to be, to raise funds for the fight against cancer throughout the MUHC.
Cedars’ beginnings focused on research and the purchase of state-of-the-art diagnostic and treatment equipment and facilities. Over the past 40 years, efforts have leaned toward patient care and cancer education. A network of psycho-social and humanitarian support for the cancer patients and their families is provided by the Cedars CanSupport program and the Wilfrid Howick Humanitarian Endowment Fund. Cedars’ strong commitment to cancer education is demonstrated by the creation of the Fellowship Fund, providing cancer specialists with the opportunity to further their education in order to benefit the hospital, university and, above all, the patient.
In addition, Cedars has created two Annual Visiting Professorships in Oncology which bring world-renowned researchers, educators and physicians to the McGill teaching hospitals. There is the Vivian Saykaly Visiting Professorship in Medical Oncology, established via a generous endowment by the Saykaly family in honour of Vivian Saykaly, and the Edward J. Tabah Visiting Professorship in Surgical Oncology.

Because of its diverse channels towards its goals, Cedars Cancer Foundation has established itself as an organization which is constantly searching for better and more creative ways to facilitate the strain that cancer imposes on the lives of so many people.



Joseph Chamandy
Wallace Saad
Vivian Saykaly
Jim Hindley
Fred Tabah
Allan Chamandy
Ed Siwiec
Mark S. Kaneb
Gwendolyn Nacos
Peter Kouri
Peter Auger
Robert Aziz
Nancy Souaid
Michael Khoury
Peter Abraham
Steven Hajaly

Joseph Chamandy - 1966-1976
A dynamic, tireless individual who rose above personal tragedy and gave Cedars its auspicious start. As Cedars’ first President, Joe Chamandy used his dedication and skills to ensure a strong and viable fund that would be the foundation for future generations.
The Late Wallace Saad - 1976-1978
With quiet dignity and the respect of the community, Wallace Saad was President during a period of tremendous growth for Cedars. He used his powers of persuasion to solidify various arrangements with the Royal Victoria Hospital and bring structure and vision to Cedars.
Vivian Saykaly - 1978-1982
An original Charter Member of the Cedars Board of Directors, Vivian Saykaly’s creativity, energy and endless devotion were the driving force behind Cedars. She spearheaded many inaugural special events and unique fundraising initiatives which brought Cedars to a whole new level. Under Vivian’s leadership, the Oncology Day Center at the RVH was opened in 1979. A milestone for her was to see her dream of the Cedars Breast Centre for the early detection of breast cancer become a reality.
Jim Hindley - 1982-1985
Jim Hindley has been one of the two longest serving members of the Cedars Board. A good friend of Joe Chamandy, Jim was active on the Board for many years before he became President. During his tenure, he spearheaded the task force to study oncology projects at the hospital, which contributed to a new model for oncology at the Royal Victoria Hospital. Under Jim, the Cedars Golf Tournament was launched. He served as its Chair and mentor for 27 years bringing the golf tournament to monumental heights. A recent quote,” I may have retired from the Cedars Golf Tournament but I have never retired from Cedars.”
Fred Tabah - 1985-1988
A hard working individual who oversaw the 20th anniversary celebration of Cedars and the Testimonial Dinner for his uncle Dr. Edward J.Tabah. During his tenure as President, Fred identified oncology needs of the hospital and supervised the vision to see them through.
The Late Allan Chamandy - 1988-1990
Allan was the nephew of Joe Chamandy and a long time supporter of Cedars. During his years as President, Allan used his strong determination and unrelenting dedication to raise Cedars profile and significance within the Royal Victoria Hospital. He took on fundraising projects with gusto and laid the foundation for today’s important fundraising initiatives. During his presidency, Cedars CanSupport and the Wilfrid Howick Humanitarian Fund providing assistance to cancer patients were established.
Ed Siwiec - 1990-1992
Ed served on the Cedars Board for 11 years, many of them as treasurer, before becoming President. Along with overseeing the growth of the Cedars Cancer Foundation, he used his tenure as President to ensure Cedars’ fiscal accountability. During Ed’s term, the Wilfrid Howick Humanitarian Fund continued to grow and gained great significance for cancer care for our patients.
Mark Kaneb - 1992-1994
Mark’s longtime dedication to Cedars and dynamic leadership skills were a great asset during key growing years. During his presidency, Cedars funds were allocated to several key medical advancements. Under Mark’s leadership, specialized mammography diagnostic equipment for the Cedars Breast Clinic and gamma cameras for the Department of Nuclear Medicine were purchased. Mark’s love of golf was in full evidence as he dedicated himself and the Cedars team to what would be come the largest charity golf tournament in Canada.
Gwendolyn Andrews Nacos - 1994-1996
Gwen Nacos was a role model for cancer advocacy and certainly no stranger to Cedars when she became President in 1994.The founder of Cedars CanSupport (1988), during her years as President of the Cedars Board she commissioned the strategic plan which saw Cedars' entry into the MUHC and she initiated the capital campaign for the renovated E.J.Tabah Oncology Day Centre at Royal Victoria Hospital.
Peter Kouri - 1996-1998
As a young man, Peter inspired all those who knew him with his courageous triumph over cancer. With gratitude and devotion, he dedicated himself to Cedars and in 1996 took over the reigns as President. During his term, several important projects came to volition, most notably the opening of the E.J.Tabah Oncology Day Center. Peter was instrumental in the planning of the renovation of the Medical 7th floor - Hematology / Oncology Ward at the RVH.
Peter Auger - 1998-2000
Peter joined the Cedars board in 1992.  With focused devotion and perseverance, Peter co-chaired with Allan Chamandy the Oncology Day Centre Renovation Capital Campaign that raised an astounding $2.5 million. During his term, Peter saw the official opening of the renovated M7 Hematology / Oncology Ward. As well, Peter oversaw funding for the Prostate Center of Excellence in the Department of Urology. With Cedars' long-term fundraising effectiveness as a priority, he introduced the Souvenir Golf Program Book.
Robert Aziz - 2000-2002
Robert became a member of the Board in 1994. As President, Robert secured many advancements for Cedars. An untiring worker and dedicated individual, he negotiated the new state-of-the- art Cedars Breast Clinic of the MUHC and was instrumental in Cedars' participation in the Saku Koivu P.E.T. CT Scanner for the Radiation Oncology Department.
Nancy Souaid - 2002 – 2004
Following in the footsteps of her dedicated parents, Vivian and Ernest Saykaly, Nancy fulfilled her term as Cedars President with indefatigable determination and grace. She secured Cedars' commitment to support the MUHC’s Best Care for Life Campaign, spearheaded Cedars' participation in the renovation of the F5 West Gynecology - Oncology Ward and supported the MUHC Stem Cell Research Bank. As well, Nancy oversaw the official opening of the newly renovated Cedars Breast Clinic of the MUHC--all this and more during the events surrounding the mammoth 25th Anniversary Golf Tournament.
Michael Khoury - 2004 – 2006
Michael held the presidency during an incredible time of expansion for the Cedars Cancer Foundation and during a period where the demands for funding and support greatly increased. Never afraid to face challenge, Michael worked to get MUHC Oncology to establish “The Cedars Comprehensive Oncology Program”. Under his leadership, the Sarah Cook Fund and Cedars worked together in a comprehensive way. Several advanced and urgently required diagnostic equipment for nuclear medicine, ultrasound and MRI machines were funded. The Ovum Preservation Program was established under his tenure - a key project of humanitarian assistance. Michael raised the administrative effectiveness and profile of Cedars by engaging the organization’s first Executive Director.
Peter Abraham - 2006-2008
During his time as president, Peter ensured a smooth transition for Cedars, going from a fund of the RVHF/MUHC to a fully independent Foundation, accredited with its own tax status as a Charitable Foundation. As well, Stephen oversaw the full integration of the Sarah Cook Fund into Cedars as the “Cedars Sarah’s Fund for Pediatrics”. Over the past few years, he has held a supportive position on the Cedars board as Immediate Past Chairman.