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Nora Yeates: A calling to work for the Sask.'s cancer foundation

Nora Yeates reflects on how she found herself in an important role in the fight against cancer.
Nora Yeates is the CEO of the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan.

REGINA - Nora Yeates is the CEO of the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan, which was formed in 2018.

Yeates was raised on the family farm south of Lang with her parents and older brother. This is where she learned the value of hard work through gardening, milking cows, churning butter, harvesting and feeding livestock. No one rested while others worked.

Once she completed high school, she received her commerce degree at the University of Saskatchewan. She then boarded a plane for the first time and headed to London, and work there for 18 months.

When she returned to Canada, Yeates sought employment with the Royal Bank, and then started working as the town administrator in Craik.

She married and had two children and worked for the Saskatchewan Regional Parks Association while working and living on the farm.

In 2002, Yeates and her children moved to Regina, and she worked as a mall administrator until it closed. She was a single mom with no income.

Yeates did some soul searching and with the help of a mentor, she pushed all her external influences aside and soon realized her ethics and beliefs pointed her to a career in the charitable sector.

Yeates applied at the top charities in Regina and was hired as the director of development for the Canadian Cancer Society of Saskatchewan. She would put on a lot of kilometres travelling across the province, looking after nine offices and the fundraising staff.

Being a single parent during the week took a toll on Yeates, and she made a promise to her kids, then ages 10 and 12, that she would find something else.

From there she worked for the Hospitals of Regina Foundation, the University of Regina, and one year as a fundraising consultant.

In 2017, the job of her dreams came up, the CEO of the Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan.

The most compelling pull for the position was that all the funds raised would stay in the province and support the work of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency. This was very appealing to Yeates.

This meant much-needed support for the Allan Blair Cancer Centre, the Saskatoon Cancer Centre, the cancer patients lodge in the cities, screening programs, research and patient care.

Manitoba, Alberta and British Columbia already had cancer foundations for over 40 years and now Saskatchewan would as well.

In 2018, Yeates was the sole employee and began working with a volunteer board of directors to build the organization.

Today, the foundation has six employees and has raised more than $4 million each year.

A new $1.5 million CT simulator has been placed in each cancer centre.

New chemotherapy chairs were purchased for the Allan Blair Cancer Centre in Regina and over $2 million has been provided for updates to the Regina Cancer Patient Lodge.

Two million has been used to build and outfit a brand new bus for breast cancer screening, and thousands of dollars have helped to support patients with travel, groceries, parking, non-prescription medication, wigs, support programs and resources.

There are dozens of hospital foundations in Saskatchewan, however they support the hospitals, not the cancer centres, patient lodges or screening programs.

The Cancer Foundation of Saskatchewan is the only charity in the province dedicated to supporting the work of the Saskatchewan Cancer Agency and every dollar remains in this province.

Yeates, who has been married to Ian for more than 13 years, described her husband as her No. 1 supporter and cheerleader.

Her children are now adults, and her daughter is a veterinarian in Melville, and her son is an apprentice electrician in Regina.

“This job has been the most rewarding and has brought so many riches to my life,” said Yeates.

“I have met so many amazing people who inspire and motivate me every day,” she added. “I can not imagine doing anything else.”

“Together we make a difference,” Yeates said.



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