About About Kids Cancer Care Our History

Our History

It started with one little boy…

In 1986, when Christine McIver’s son Derek was diagnosed with a brain tumour, there were very few programs in the province to help children and families navigate the frightening diagnosis of childhood cancer.

There were no children’s cancer camps in Alberta, so Christine registered Derek in a B.C. camp. Seeing the smile on his face and the laughter in his eyes, helped strengthen her resolve to build a children’s cancer camp in Alberta.

Christine wanted Derek to have a childhood and she wanted other parents to know they are not alone in their battle with childhood cancer. Working as a volunteer out of her basement in the late 80s, she and a group of dedicated parents and volunteers set to work to build a support system for children and families facing childhood cancer.

In 1991, Christine established the first cancer camps in Alberta under the auspices of the Canadian Cancer Society. In 1994, she founded the Kids Cancer Camps of Alberta, an organization dedicated solely to helping children with cancer and their families.

Buoyed by the success of the camps, Christine knew it was time to begin addressing the full spectrum of childhood cancer. In 1999, the foundation expanded its mandate to include funding for childhood cancer research and hospital programs.

In 2008, the foundation established the first scholarship fund in Alberta for childhood cancer patients and survivors.

2015 was a big year for Kids Cancer Care. We expanded our educational programming and added a therapeutic arm, offering tutoring, therapeutic exercise and child life services for the first time.   

Today, Kids Cancer Care is one of the largest childhood cancer research funders in the country. The foundation now offers more than 20 year-round and summer camp and outreach programs, along with education support programs and services to Alberta families.

Kids Cancer Care is one of only a handful of charities in North America dedicated to supporting the entire continuum of childhood cancer, fighting the disease on several fronts. Through laughter at camp, innovative science in the lab, enhanced care at the hospital, or brighter futures through education support and post-secondary scholarships.

Learn more about our history here.

About Christine

As founder and former Chief Executive Officer of Kids Cancer Care, Christine McIver is responsible for the leadership and management of the foundation. Beginning this work in the basement of her home in 1988, Christine has devoted her volunteer and professional life to children’s cancer programs.
Christine’s mission to help children and families battling childhood cancer has earned her national attention. Recognized by the Governments of Canada and Alberta with a Governor General’s Meritorious Service Medal and an Alberta Centennial Medal, she is also a recipient of a prestigious Canadian Hadassah-WIZO Woman of Achievement Award and a Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Medal.

Christine was one of 10 Canadians chosen in 2002 to be on the Maclean’s Honour Roll and has received a YWCA/Global TV Woman of Vision Award, a Reader’s Digest Canadian Hero of the Year Award, and a Today’s Parent For Kids Sake Award. In 2010, she was awarded the Spirit of COCA Award from the Children’s Oncology Camp Association International. In June 2016, the University of Calgary awarded Christine an honorary doctor of laws degree for her outstanding service to children and families affected by childhood cancer. In 2018, she received a Don Smith Lifetime Achievement Award from the Alberta Camping Association, and in 2023, she received a Paul Harris Fellow Award from Rotary International.

Christine is the past president of Candlelighters Canada and served for 12 years as the secretary-general of the International Confederation of Childhood Cancer Parent Organizations. She continues to serve in an advisory capacity on several committees devoted to children’s issues.

Christine holds certificates in voluntary and non-profit sector management from the Canadian Centre for Philanthropy and the National Program in Fundraising Education from Mount Royal University. In 2002, she earned her Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) designation and is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) and the Canadian Society of Association Executives (CSAE). She has more than 20 years in the non-profit sector.