Anishnawbe Health Foundation

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John Daniel O’Leary

In Memory of John Daniel O’Leary
October 10, 1951 – April 14, 2020


On April 14, 2020, Anishnawbe Health Foundation lost a beloved member of our Foundation’s team – John Daniel O’Leary.


John joined Anishnawbe Health in 2018 and has been a valuable and integral part of growing the Foundation’s campaign for a new home for health, wellness and healing for the Indigenous Community in Toronto that is set to break ground later this year.


The reason John was attracted to working with Anishnawbe Health stemmed from his past work as a teacher and his leadership in literacy in Canada.  Through many years as President of Frontier College, John worked to build and improve literacy programs for vulnerable populations, including youth in remote communities and men in prison.  All of the organizations that he worked and volunteered with over the years had one thing in common – fighting for social justice and equality.  John leaves behind a wide circle of colleagues, friends and family who will deeply miss him.


In John’s honour, the O’Leary family has established the John D. O’Leary Memorial Fund at Anishnawbe Health Foundation. Proceeds from the fund will support the Campaign for a new Anishnawbe Health Toronto, and will honour his life-long dedication to learning and teaching and a special area in the new Health Centre will be named in honour of John. We are deeply honoured by this generosity and thank the O’Leary family.


“Indigenous people have a rich storytelling tradition. From them, we can learn much about the value of stories in preserving and nourishing language, culture and community….. Whenever I am asked for a definition of literacy, this beautiful passage by Métis author Maria Campbell comes to mind:


In my language, which is Cree, the mind is called MOM TUNE AY CHI KUN. MOM TUNE AY CHI KUN is the sacred place inside each one of us where no one else can go. It is in this place that each one of us can dream, imagine, fantasize, create and, yes, even talk to the grandfathers and grandmothers. The thoughts and images that come from this place are called MOM TUNE AY CHI KUNA which means wisdom and they can be given to others in stories, songs, dances and art.” Excerpt from Creating a Love of Reading, by
John Daniel O’Leary