In the darkened hours of January 4th, 2017, the word came that our beloved friend and stalwart hero for the environment Dan McDermott had passed away.
Dan had been diagnosed with cancer, and while no fatal diagnosis is ever merciless, it was only a few short months until he was taken.
Throughout the months of his illness, devoted colleagues and friends swooped in and created a cocoon around Dan to provide comfort and compassion in the final weeks and days of his life. He kept his humour, and he didn’t lose himself. His beloved Helen had been gone since June 2015 and he was ready to go.
Dan’s absence has created a gulf in our hearts, and a gulf in the movement of heroes so poised in experience, expertise and talent, that they remain peerless.
We took the time to grieve his loss, and to reflect on his stunning achievements to protect our environment.
We were reminded of all of the ground he covered in his life of intense dedication and passion toward building a better world – from his swashbuckling parachute jump over the Darlington Nuclear site to his monumental achievement of making the air over Toronto cleaner. In the words of a respected journalist, “If you’re breathing easier in Toronto, you have Dan McDermott to thank.”
In the quiet days after his death, we resolved to boldly move forward on the trail Dan had so selflessly blazed.
It quickly became apparent that there was no other option than to take the legacy of his decades of work – building and strengthening and building further – and create a reinforced movement of people willing to throw themselves at the challenges to make our air, water and land cleaner and healthier for everyone. Just as Dan had imagined, worked for, and made happen.
We knew the work had to continue and we knew we had committed friends in place to help us do it.
His legacy will not only endure – it is, in fact, compelling us to reach for even bigger wins for the environment.
The moment to do that is now.
It is with this motivation that we announce The Dan McDermott Legacy Fund for Environmental Protection in support of Sierra Club Ontario’s most urgent campaign priorities.
Dan taught us that winning challenging environmental campaigns simply does not happen overnight. He showed us that it requires steely determination and placing our sights on a longer end-game, with victories that accumulate one-by-one-by-one.
Thank you for everything you taught us Dan. Thank you for making the world better while you were here.
Your work will continue.
Sierra Club Ontario Chapter is fortunate to have the leadership of highly experienced and passionate volunteers who remain focused on some of the most urgent environmental issues affecting our province, our country and our world.
Our complement of leaders come from the worlds of law, science and academia, and we are ably supported by a Chapter Coordinator and national staff whose skills and responsibilities include campaign development, organizational leadership, financial administration and volunteer development, and communications, marketing and philanthropy.
We are eager to move ahead by maintaining and generating further momentum and leveraging the body of successes that Dan and our Chapter have achieved.
How you can make a difference
You can play an important role in putting Dan’s legacy to work.
With your philanthropic commitment, we can continue to protect our favourite parks, address the critical urgency of plastics in the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence system, protect irreplaceable species and ecosystems, and fight on the frontlines to keep our future green, safe and sustainable for all of us.
You knew Dan. You know his accomplishments. You recognize that the work must continue. And it’s why we have come to you first.
We invite you today to consider making a special pledge of support to help fund the work of the Ontario Chapter. Multi-year pledges are welcome, or simply chose to make a commitment for 2018, if you prefer.
At a time when the environment is taking too many hits, knowing a select group of friends are here to launch this special fund means that we will be ready to push back against forces that would undo our achievements, and be in a strong position to tackle new challenges.
You can make your special gift to Dan's Legacy Fund right here.