What do Céline Dion, Oscar Peterson, Jean Béliveau and Lotta Hitschmanova all have in common?

What could possibly link together such a diverse group of beloved Canadians: a singer, a pianist, a hockey player and a humanitarian?

Could it be that each became household names far beyond the borders of Canada? That starting from very humble beginnings, each has made an enduring mark in their respective professions? Or might it be the uniforms that both Lotta and Jean Béliveau wore? Continue reading

The Bruce Cockburn – Lotta Hitschmanova connection: “She radiated love and concern”

Bruce CockburnIn 1995, award-winning singer-songwriter, activist and humanitarian, Bruce Cockburn recalled how he first came to know and admire Dr Lotta in Ottawa: Continue reading

CANADA’S HISTORY includes Lotta in its list of 36 great women

In 2016, the respected journal Canada’s History published a list of 30 great Canadian women. Along with many others, this writer suggested that a celebrated refugee to Canada, Dr Lotta Hitschmanova, might also be included in such a list.

Last week, on International Women’s Day (March 8), Canada’s History has responded by publishing a list of 36 more great women, including Lotta!

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Celebrating a Canadian “pioneer” on International Women’s Day

“Development often starts with a woman. Support leadership programs for women through the USC, 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa.”

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, let’s give a thought to one of our pioneering women leaders, Lotta Hitschmanova, and the impact she had on her adopted country, Canada.

Quite remarkably, as a refugee, she became perhaps the most prominent Canadian woman of her generation. But more than that, she pushed hard for women’s development around the world, well before this became a key approach followed by international development agencies.

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Special Bank of Canada Update #1: Elsie MacGill and Lotta Hitschmanova ranked highest in cross-Canada survey!

Lotta Hitschmanova on a Canadian bank noteWhen the Bank of Canada announced its short list of 5 women candidates to appear on a Canadian banknote, I was a bit surprised to read that Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990) wasn’t on the list. I wondered, perhaps I had been mistaken, and Lotta’s story no longer resonated with Canadians to the degree I thought it did.

Recently the Bank of Canada has published the full details of the cross-country survey of 2,000 Canadians who voiced their opinions about the women (including Lotta) who had made it onto the long list of 12 “bank-notable” Canadian women.

In my upcoming series of Lotta56sparks.ca blog posts, I will highlight some of the results of this cross-Canada survey. Here is today’s key finding: Continue reading

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: she didn’t get her American visa

1942 canadian postage stampAfter 4 years of wandering around Europe as a refugee, Lotta Hitschmanova applied for a visa to immigrate to America.

She was rejected, but in January 1942, she received the following message in a telegram, as related by Lotta’s biographer, Clyde Sanger:

“Hitschmanova Canadian duration visa granted.”

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Lotta Hitschmanova: What it Means to be a Refugee

“To be a refugee, to be without a home, to be without country, to be without friends … you have no more roots, you have no one to turn to.”

Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990) became one of Canada’s most beloved humanitarians and a role model and champion for women’s rights.

Before this, however, Lotta experienced the extreme pain of being uprooted, from her beloved Czech homeland, wandering across Western Europe as a refugee from 1938 to 1942. Continue reading

Mike Myers, Lotta Hitschmanova, and on being Canadian

Mike Myers, Shelagh Rogers, CBC radio photo

“What does it mean to be Canadian? Well, for one thing, if you’re of a certain age (Mike Myers is 53), it means you have stored away in your memory banks one of Canada’s most famous addresses, 55 Sparks Street, Ottawa 4 – or was it 56 Sparks?” Continue reading