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The donor: Sean St. John

The gift: Helping raise $2.8-million and climbing

The cause: Right to Play

Sean St. John has always been a sports enthusiast and he played everything from hockey to lacrosse and rugby as a kid.

He credits the teamwork and resilience he learned from sports for his successful career in business. “Sports were a big part of my life,” said Mr. St. John, who is an executive vice-president and co-head of fixed income, currencies and commodities at National Bank.

A couple of years ago, Mr. St. John was introduced to Right to Play, a global charity that helps children overcome adversity through play. He’d been involved in several charities in Toronto, but Right to Play struck a nerve. Mr. St. John has Mohawk ancestry and the charity is involved with 85 First Nations’ communities across Canada. He met the organization’s founder, Norwegian speed skater Johann Koss, who convinced him to join Right to Play’s Canadian board.

In 2018, Mr. St. John co-chaired the group’s major Canadian fundraising event, an annual dinner in Toronto called the Right to Play Heroes Gala that honours leaders in sports and business. With the help of colleagues from National Bank, including chief executive Louie Vachon who was honoured that year, Mr. St. John raised $2.8-million. He’s co-chairing the gala again this year on Oct. 17 which is honouring Dean Connor, CEO of Sun Life Financial, and hopes to raise $2-million..

Mr. St. John plans to become more engaged with the First Nations’ programs that involve mentors who work with children to promote healthy living and education through sports. “It’s just about giving people experiences,” he said. He added that whenever he’s hiring staff, he’s always looking for people who are involved in their community. "It’s those people that I want to see who have passions that go beyond just ripping apart a balance sheet.”