By Adam Segal
Beneath the rainbow picture adorning the front wall of St. Wilfrid’s Catholic Church is a caption that reads, “One faith, many cultures.”
Words that encapsulate diversity. The raison d’etre of the man who was being remembered there.
On Monday, hundreds of people packed the church on Finch Avenue West to remember Dan McIntyre, a devoted human rights worker and chair of Ryerson’s board of governors. Mr. McIntyre died of a heart attack on Feb. 19 while vacationing in Jamaica. He was 50 years old.
Mr. McIntyre, who joined Ryerson’s board in 1996, crusaded for human rights for nearly 30 years. As the founder of the African Canadian Congress and member of the Urban Alliance on Race Relations, he worked tirelessly to make society more just. He succeeded in lobbying for employment equity in the hiring of police officers and worked towards prison reform.
“Dan drew strength, energy, power and spirit from other human beings,” said long-time friend Reggie Newkirk. “He supported and relished human values.”
In 1972, while attending a human rights conference in Quebec City, Newkirk recalled how Mr. McIntyre could not keep quiet as the keynote speaker, Premier René Lévesque, celebrated la belle province’s appreciation for diversity.
“Mr. Premier, you say there’s no problem over diversity in Quebec, but what about the French-speaking Haitian taxi drivers?” Newkirk recalled Mr. McIntyre asking. “They’re discriminated against and you’re not doing anything about that.
Though the premier was whisked off by assistants before answering, Newkirk said the incident illustrated Mr. McIntyre’s way of putting issues on the table.
“He wasn’t disrespectful, but he was very clear and direct,” Newkirk said.
“He seemed to be able to risk doing something on the edge and not worry about the outcome, because he knew something would be learned.”
Gordon Cressy, Ryerson’s v.p. university advancement who has worked with Mr. McIntyre in the community for 25 years, recalled his frank approach to life.
“On one level he was fun-loving and joyous and on another level, he was deeply serious about issues of access for this university.”
A strong believer in university education, Mr. McIntyre earned a bachelor of business administration degree from the University of New Brunswick and a master’s of social work from Dalhousie University.
After moving to Ontario, Mr. McIntyre’s passion and work ethic landed him senior positions with the federal Ministry of Citizenship and the Ontario and Canadian Human Rights Commissions.
Mr. McIntyre went on to hold executive positions with the Ministry of the Solicitor General and Correctional Services.
Most recently, Mr. McIntyre was principal of consulting services in the justice reform and human rights practice at KPMG law firm in Toronto.
In his spare time, Mr. McIntyre enjoyed playing basketball and reveled in watching his sons play.
“We have a hoop outside the house and he would just sit and watch us,” said his eldest son Anthony. “He was a great role model for us.”
Mr. McIntyre leaves behind his wife Dale Gillespie and three sons, Anthony, 22, Robert, 19, and Stephen, 15.