A $26 Million Gift for Canadian Children’s Hospitals

The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation and CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation are deeply grateful for the generosity of the Thistledown Foundation.

The Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation and The CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation are joining forces to express their heartfelt appreciation to Tobi Lütke and Fiona McKean, co-founders of the Thistledown Foundation, for their tremendous $26 million donation in support of 13 children’s hospitals across Canada, through Canada’s Children’s Hospital Foundations (CCHF) and Children’s Healthcare Canada. This game-changing investment translates to $2 million each for Montreal’s two main acute care pediatric hospitals.

Through this extraordinary act of generosity, which will have a positive impact on families from coast to coast, this young philanthropic couple, who are also parents of three children, are making a clear and unequivocal statement about the vital importance of health and our collective responsibility to care for it. Co-founder and CEO of Shopify, Canadian Tobi Lütke, and his wife, Fiona McKean, established the Thistledown Foundation in 2019 to advance technological solutions for decarbonization. After the pandemic struck, however, they decided to temporarily pivot their priorities to address the community’s most pressing needs; hence this investment in children’s health.

An undesignated gift for an even greater impact

Lütke and McKean have opted to not direct their donation to any particular initiatives and instead give each institution the leeway to address specific local urgent needs. This approach, which is rooted in the principle of trust-based philanthropy, will help amplify the overall reach of their gift. The recipient foundations are grateful for this flexibility, which will make it possible to focus on areas where needs are the most pressing and where the effects will be the most meaningful.

“The past two years will be etched in memory because of the global pandemic. Since the beginning of this crisis, sick children and their families have had no reprieve. That is why cutting-edge care by healthcare experts — our everyday heroes — are more essential than ever. We are so proud to be able to count on the Thistledown Foundation’s generous support to help The Children’s find Unexpected Ways to Heal. We are extremely grateful to recognize this ground-breaking donation, which will help support the urgent needs of 13 children’s hospitals across Canada on top of offering kids and teens across the country care and services adapted to their specific needs. Thank you to the Thistledown Foundation for helping sick children in Quebec and Canada get their joyful energy and their little mischievous side back,” explained Renée Vézina, President of the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation.

“In a time of great need, the Thistledown Foundation’s exceptional donation will maximize our ability to support CHU Sainte-Justine. The fact that we have the donor’s complete trust gives us the necessary latitude to address urgent and high impact needs for kids and their families. We are rejoicing for the 12 other Canadian children’s hospital foundations who will also greatly benefit from this generosity. Through this donation, children all over the country are being given the promise of a healthy future, filled with hope, and new possibilities. Today, the Thistledown Foundation is sending a clear message: if caring for our children is a priority, giving our institutions the proper tools to do that is equally as important,” added Maud Cohen, President and Chief Executive Officer, CHU Sainte-Justine Foundation.