Scholar, lawyer, woodsman, chairman. A conversation with John Coleman, Chair of the CSCA

By Lisa Dutton

In the middle of the night some 21 years ago, John Coleman, the current Chair of the MCH Council for Services to Children and Adolescents (CSCA) bundled up his 13-month old son Danny and brought him to the MCH Emergency Room.  The toddler had been crying all day and was feverish. Dad fully expected to be told his son had an ear infection. It turned out to be something much worse: his son had cancer.

“My wife Estelle stayed home with our daughter Christina, then two and a half, while I brought Danny to the hospital. The triage nurse checked him out and asked a lot of questions about his symptoms. He did indeed have an ear infection,” recounts Mr. Coleman. “But in the course of her triage examination, this amazing nurse noticed a very tiny lump that neither his mum nor I ever noticed. To be on the safe side, she suggested a specialist take a look. Within a few hours, we learned our son had cancer.” Reflecting back on the events that unfolded some two decades ago and the ordeal his son went through, Mr. Coleman still gets very emotional and will forever be grateful to that wonderful triage nurse whose name he regrets never having learned in the whirlwind of the weeks that followed.

The cancer was in its early stages; Danny had surgery and was followed at the MCH up until the age of 18 and then made the transition to adult care. Today, the 23-year old is doing great, living in Vancouver and attending theatre school.  

So when Mr. Coleman says the staff at the MCH is wonderful, he isn’t just making idle chit-chat. “The best thing about The Montreal Children’s Hospital is the people. Everyone is absolutely great,” he says with an assertive nod.

Mr. Coleman, a labour lawyer and Managing Partner, Operations, at Ogilvy Renault, joined the CSCA three years ago; a year later he was appointed interim chairman and then last year took over as chairman. The CSCA is not a board, per se, but it is an advisory body designed to help and support the hospital achieve its mission of providing excellent pediatric care. The CSCA reports directly to the MUHC Board of Directors where it has an opportunity to raise the concerns and views of the pediatric mission.

“One of the main roles of the CSCA is to advocate for this hospital. The MCH is a unique place and it can thrive within a larger institution, but the pediatric mission needs to be nurtured,” says Mr. Coleman.

An admitted workaholic, Mr. Coleman says, after pondering a bit, that one of his passions and stress relievers is to get out in the woods walking or snowshoeing.

He has a history of working with children and helping children’s charities. While studying at CEGEP and McGill University, he volunteered as a camp counselor with the Quebec Society for Disabled Children during the summers and winters. He went on to become a Rhodes Scholar allowing him the privilege of spending three years at Oxford studying classics and law.

Mr. Coleman has been serving on the Quebec Rhodes Scholarship Selection Committee since 1996. When reviewing applications, the Rhodes Scholarship Committee looks for among other things: qualities of truthfulness, courage, devotion to duty, protection of the weak, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship, moral force of character and instincts to lead, and take an interest in one’s contemporaries.

No better qualifications for the chairman of the MCH CSCA.

Back to the Chez nous Home Page <<<
Chez nous Archives >>>