Activist and philanthropist
photography Curtis Trent
Why He’s Top 40: He donates his time to give back to the community.
When Dan Johnstone isn’t gathering donations for marginalized and vulnerable populations in Alberta, he most enjoys watching movies. His favourite movie is Titanic, but he most personifies Pay It Forward.
“My mother and I went through a lot of obstacles and tribulations when I was growing up, and we relied on society to take care of us [him and his younger brother],” Johnstone recalls. “People doing good things provided whatever services they could for us. When I was older I realized what these people were doing, and I wanted to keep that momentum going and give back.”
After high school, Johnstone got a construction job, and went from “pushing a broom to being a superintendent” at City Homes Master Builder. As he started to earn a living for himself, he knew it was time to replicate the generosity he had received as a child.
“Life is not easy and I want to be there for others, because others were there for me. I don’t know who they are, I can’t thank them, but I can continue on their work.”
Since 2011, when his first food bank drive earned him the nickname “Can Man Dan,” Johnstone has raised millions of dollars in monetary, food and supplies donations for low-income, at-risk and homeless people around the province. While Johnstone relies on community support for donations and volunteers for his events, he initiates and executes most of his projects on his own. Johnstone makes care packages, cooks meals, delivers donations and takes time to meet those he’s helping to support.
“I’m not here to benefit off this, this is not my job. This is just me giving back to the society that helped me. It’s just people helping people. If even one kid takes what I’m going to give them and eventually gives back to someone else, mission accomplished."
This article appears in the November 2018 issue of Avenue Edmonton. Subscribe here.