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Donor chooses controversy over anonymity

“People are vulnerable and compassion works better than incarceration. These issues go far beyond what I can do my own, so I’m talking openly, hoping to encourage others in the collective pursuit of rational and pragmatic solutions to the problems we face.”
For decades, David Sweanor gave quietly, anonymously. But a year ago, he decided to go public with his philanthropy. What changed?
 
“When you give anonymously, you truly don’t expect anything in return…that feels right to me, but there’s a downside to being silent,” says the Ottawa lawyer and public health expert. “I’m interested in topics that might be considered controversial, and by going public, I want to encourage others to get involved.”  
 
Since the 1980s, David has spearheaded the development of leading anti-smoking initiatives in Canada. In 2001, he created a fund with the Community Foundation of Ottawa that has invested in numerous projects locally, nationally and internationally, and more recently, he directed funding to the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition (CDPC) based at SFU. 
 
The CDPC advocates for new approaches to drug policies that are based on prevention, harm reduction and treatment rather than criminal law. And with the recent opioid overdose crisis in B.C., support for their work has never been more important. 
 
“Many drug users are dealing with mental health issues and shattered lives, there’s a reason they self-medicate,” emphasizes David. And from the perspective of Canada’s health minister, Jane Philpott, "this country’s deadly opioid crisis will take the whole of government, the whole of society to tackle.”
 
Davidsees giving as an investment, and just like any investment, he urges you to ask yourself, what is the return?  “When you invest in social issues, such as what CDPC at SFU is doing around drug use, the return is lives or quality of life,” says David passionately. “I sincerely believe we’re all connected in a very pure sense, and collectively we can make a real difference in the world.” 
 
Donate to the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition here