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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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

Would Lotta have marched?

Lotta Hitschmanova, Cyprus, 1950s

“It seems to have been an instinctive desire on her part to bring out the leadership qualities she knew were in so many talented women she met, and an intuition that their ideas on human development would match her own.”

As millions of women and men around the world march to the cry of “women’s rights are human rights” – amid calls for greater tolerance, social justice, dignity and respect – a tiny candle of remembrance lights itself in honour of our women’s rights pioneers of times passed.

Lotta Hitschmanova (1909-1990) was one of those early pioneers.

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A tale of two surveys: Lotta has made us proud to be Canadians

When I came across a recent article in the Ottawa Citizen, I noticed that research firm Abacus Data had conducted a survey asking Canadians what made them proud of their country.

The top two responses were: freedom to live as we see fit and Terry Fox.

Given the recent publicity around the 12 women (including Lotta Hitschmanova) nominated to appear on a Canadian banknote, I was curious to see how they ranked in this survey.

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2016 in review: thanks for the memories!

We started Lotta56sparks.ca on Lotta’s 107th birthday, November 28, not quite knowing how a blog dedicated to this humanitarian “pioneer” would be received.

Ottawa, 1943.

Since then, over 700 individuals have visited the blog!

Sincere thanks to everyone who has helped spread the word, with a special nod to the Lost Ottawa Facebook group.

Here are the most popular stories of 2016:

  1. Sharing a Lotta story: “She loved to party.”
  2. The most iconic – and confusing uniform in Canadian history?
  3. How did a Jewish refugee to Canada become a Unitarian “saint”? Part I. NB: Part II to be posted in 2017, stay tuned.
  4. 56 Sparks St – Canada’s most famous address?

 

Breaking News: Lotta Hitschmanova was inspirational – Bank of Canada survey

It seems that Lotta scored very high indeed, in the recent Bank of Canada survey. She didn’t make it onto the Bank’s five woman short list, but the indicators are very strong indeed for some future recognition (another bill, a stamp perhaps?) for this Canadian social justice pioneer.

“The nominees included most frequently in a respondent’s top list were Elsie MacGill, Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova, Viola Desmond and Nellie McClung…. Continue reading

Happy Birthday Lotta! Though you won’t be printed on our $100 bills, you will always be etched in our hearts.

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Welcome to the launching of Lotta56sparks.ca – on this, the 107th anniversary of one of Canada’s most beloved humanitarians!

Though Dr. Lotta did not make it onto the Bank of Canada’s short list of five women banknote candidates, there is still much cause for celebration, and indeed for reflection on the lasting impact that she has had on our Canadian society. Continue reading