150+ Canadians Day 43: Dan Heap

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Dan Heap contributed to peace by tirelessly campaigning for social justice, against war, poverty and homelessness.#Canada150

Mr. Heap began his career as an Anglican minister but chose to forgo church ministry and align himself with the Worker-Priest movement. He first ran for Toronto City Council in 1972, winning several elections, and then ran federally for the NDP. He represented his Toronto riding for 12 years. After his retirement, he continued his work as an activist.

A co-founder of Homes Not Hostels and the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, Heap was arrested in 2000 with two others attempting an act of conscience: removing the sword from the cross outside St. Paul’s Anglican Church, to push the Church to oppose unjust wars.

“I knew Dan for 30 years and was always impressed with his ability to slice through BS. Whether as an MP advocating for refugee rights, a fellow arrestee blockading Bay Street or pouring blood on the steps of the legislature to protest Jim Flaherty’s killer cuts under the Harris regime, he was always searching for new ways to transform our social institutions. Both he and his wife, Alice, never failed to listen to those far younger and less experienced than they. It only came up accidentally in conversation once that Dan had joined marchers responding to Dr. King’s call to go to Selma in 1965. In our last conversation, he said Canada would never be a worthy nation if it did not deal honestly with its ongoing colonial crimes against First Nations. He was a real truth-seeker.”        -Matthew Behrens, Homes Not Bombs

When he died in 2014 his son posted a message describing him as a “Pacifist, socialist, worker-priest, marxist Anglican, trade-unionist, city councillor, member of parliament, civilly disobedient marcher for human rights. Wearer of red shirts, cyclist, paddler of canoes, singer of songs.”

Editor’s Bonus Material: This personal tribute to Dan Heap, as shared by Ellie Kirzner for NOW Toronto, really captures the feel and greater context of what it was like to work with him over many of those years.

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