Oct. 14, 2022

Philanthropy, perseverance and the importance of family

Kilimanjaro-climbing retiree and OWN.CANCER donor Patrick Daniel explains why he gives
Calgary philanthropist Patrick Daniel
Calgary philanthropist Patrick Daniel. Adrian Shellard, for the University of Calgary

When Patrick Daniel retired at the top of his career as president and CEO of Enbridge in 2012 at the age of 66, a friend persuaded him to join a guided expedition to climb Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro — the tallest mountain in Africa and highest single free-standing mountain above sea level in the world. He liked it so much that two years later, he did the six-day trip again.

Patrick Daniel, top right, at summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro

Patrick Daniel, top right, with a group of Outward Bound trekkers in 2014 at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Courtesy Patrick Daniel

“It's always fun being the oldest person on a trek like that and keeping up with the young people. It kind of fits with my theme of keep your head down, work hard, one foot after the other just plod your way up,” says the now 76 year old.

Despite his retirement, Daniel never slowed down — he just wrapped up his last for-profit board position this year and now focuses 100 per cent on advancing the philanthropic goals of the Daniel Family Foundation. The foundation recently contributed $5 million for a new research Chair in Psychosocial Oncology within the Department of Oncology and UCalgary's Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute.

It's a cancer specialty that his family supports strongly. When his mother was diagnosed with lymphoma in the late 1970s, she sought out ways to bolster her emotional and psychological health — years before this became an established pillar of cancer care. Daniel’s long-standing commitment to help advance psychosocial oncology research has helped UCalgary become a world leader in the field.

Patrick Daniel's mother, Catherine Daniel.

Patrick Daniel's mother, Catherine Daniel.

Courtesy Patrick Daniel

He says even his five grandchildren will tell you how much he believes that working hard and persevering pays off. And his example has rubbed of on them, as all are active in sport, applying those same principles to hockey, soccer and Tae Kwon Do. Spending time with them — especially in the outdoors — is one of his favourite things to do.

The Daniel Family Foundation also generously supports several other causes delivering a broad range of impact. This includes generosity to UCalgary which, in addition to its new gift, includes support for the Daniel Family Foundation Leadership Chair in Psychosocial Oncology and the Daniel Family Foundation Graduate Scholarship in Cancer Research.

It also includes Wellspring Calgary, which provides a support system for those undergoing cancer treatment; Waterloo, Ontario’s Perimeter Institute, which is involved in quantum physics research; Outward Bound Canada, which gives disadvantaged youth the opportunity to learn life lessons in the outdoors; and Canadian Blind Hockey, which provides hockey programming for children and youth who are blind or partially sighted.

It has invested in scholarships at The University of British Columbia and McGill University and in the expansion of Spirit North, founded by Canadian Olympic skier Beckie Scott, which empowers Indigenous youth to be unstoppable in sport, school and life. It also supports a children’s hospital in Cambodia, Chenla Children’s Healthcare.

“I think that private philanthropy is critically important to so many causes,” Daniel says. “Our governments have a responsibility to provide a certain level of service, whether it's health care or education or whatever, but philanthropists can kick it up to a world-class level. I’m fortunate to be in the position to help out.”

The Calgary Cancer Centre Campaign is on a mission to OWN.CANCER by raising $250 million in support of improved research, treatment and care at Calgary’s new world-class cancer centre. This game-changing initiative is backed by three trusted community institutions: Alberta Health Services, Canada’s first and largest fully integrated provincial health system; the University of Calgary, a globally recognized leader in medical research and home to tomorrow’s health-care professionals; and the Alberta Cancer Foundation, the official fundraising partner for all 17 cancer care centres across the province. Currently under construction, the Calgary Cancer Centre will open its doors in 2023 as the largest, most comprehensive cancer centre in Canada.

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