News / Edmonton

'Can Man Dan' speaks out about domestic violence

Anti-poverty activist has teamed with WIN House to raise funds and awareness

Anti-poverty activist Dan Johnstone is devoting the next month to raising awareness of domestic violence in Edmonton.

Alex Boyd/Metro

Anti-poverty activist Dan Johnstone is devoting the next month to raising awareness of domestic violence in Edmonton.

You may know him as the anti-poverty activist who camped out to raise food for the foodbank, or as one of the many candidates in the recent Ward 12 by-election.

But now, Dan Johnstone, also known as 'Can Man Dan,' wants to be known as something else: An abuse survivor.

“Growing up I was a victim of domestic violence, my mother and I,” he said. “We had the misfortune of being trapped in a relationship, and [her live-in partner] would often get drunk at night and he would hit my mother or lock her in a room, or threaten to take her life and bloody her,” he said.

“I remember every single detail.”

While Johnstone has long been open about his childhood — his family’s reliance on the food bank is a major reason he’s such a devoted supporter — this is the first time he’s gone public about his experience with domestic violence.

But he and his mother are sharing the story in the hope it helps the thousands of victims who face domestic abuse in Edmonton every year.

To that end, Johnstone is devoting the next month to raising money for the Edmonton Women’s Shelter, also known as WIN House.

With his trademark fundraising flair, Johnstone is calling it the Month of Extreme and Wacky Stunts. He’ll do a cheer with the Edmonton Eskimos cheer team, run from a police dog and walk the full width of the city.

“It’s going to make some people laugh, but it’s also going to raise awareness, which is the most important thing,” he said.

“And every single cent that is raised through these events will go to WIN house,” he said. “They help so many women and children every year it’s just ridiculous. They’re such a great charity and I want to make sure they’re taken care of.”

Last year, WIN House served 267 women, 265 children and received 2,022 crisis calls.

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