How to save Sparks Street – Part III – is it time to create a “Lotta56sparks” app?

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

The Ottawa Citizen has just published my letter to the editor:

I read with great interest Thomas Brawn’s suggestion of creating an app to highlight the story of Sparks Street. I salute this idea and add one of my own.

Canada’s most famous address is 56 Sparks Street. Ottawa humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova, who helped found the Unitarian Service Committee of Canada, forever implanted that address in the memories of millions of Canadians via her heartfelt appeals on TV and radio in the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.

A bust of Lotta currently resides on the wall beside the entrance to 56 Sparks. Imagine what it would be like to have a recording of her old public service announcements playing for visitors as they passed by.

Let’s take a tip from the Oscar Peterson memorial at the National Arts Centre: his music can be heard alongside Ruth Abernethy’s amazing sculpture.

If Thomas Brawn’s proposal could also be implemented, imagine all those visitors to Ottawa strolling down this pedestrian mall, checking out the Sparks Street app on their smart phones, suddenly hearing this voice from the past, having a listen, perhaps taking a photo or two to show the folks back home.

Brilliant idea, and Ottawa tourism would be a direct beneficiary.

David Rain, Ottawa

(Editor’s note: David Rain established a blog in memory of Lotta Hitschmanova: lotta56sparks.ca)

Lotta Hitschmanova: A Woman of Impact in Canada

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

As part of Women’s History Month, Status of Women Canada has created an online gallery called “Women of Impact in Canada.”

It is “dedicated to women’s achievements, featuring profiles of courageous women who have made an impact in politics, the arts and sciences, and countless other fields.”

Dr Lotta is one of 100 women recognized by the Government of Canada and has been included in the online gallery as a Human Rights and humanitarian leader. 

I hope this recognition will lead to many more Canadians, men and women, learning about her remarkable life story, and the lasting impact she has had on her adopted society to this day.

David Rain

Little known Lotta facts for a Friday: you can play the piano in Lotta’s room!

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

Lotta’s room, “Hitschmanova”, in the Unitarian Church of Vancouver

Did you know there is a room named after Lotta in Vancouver? You can meet in “Hitschmanova”, or even play the piano there!

I learned this while giving a talk for USC Canada many years ago at the Unitarian Church of Vancouver at 49th & Oak.

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In Memoriam: Gerry Brown, Winnipeg (1919-2018)

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

 

“I remember a slight woman in an olive military suit who held the room spellbound.”

I was saddened recently to find out that Gerry Brown, a long-time fan and supporter of Dr Lotta Hitschmanova, had passed away in Winnipeg at the age of 98.

Gerry was one of USC Canada’s most dedicated volunteers and Board members. She first met Lotta in Vancouver in 1944, and decades later she joined USC’s legendary group of Winnipeg volunteers at Firehall #5.

Here is a biographical note that Gerry wrote in 2012.

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Let’s honour Lotta on World Refugee Day

“I experienced personally how much it hurts to be hungry. To be a refugee, to be without a home, to be without country, to be without friends. And this is something dreadful; you have no more roots, you have no one to turn to.” – Lotta Hitschmanova

June 20, 2018. Today is World Refugee Day, a time to reflect on the millions of refugees and displaced persons around the world.

Humanitarian Lotta Hitschmanova was a WWII refugee who by her actions in the 1940s to 1980s planted the seeds of compassion in her adopted country and indeed around the world. She was a refugee who changed Canada for the better.

To honour her legacy, let’s sign the petition to put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

Thank you for supporting this and for sharing it with others.

David Rain

A new song for Lotta: “Her Storm”

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

In a remarkable musical development, Ottawa cellist and composer, Margaret Maria Tobolowska, has just dedicated a new cello composition – “Her Storm” – to Dr Lotta Hitschmanova.

The song for Lotta appears on a new CD project called “Heroines in Harmony”:

“Dedicated to all women and girls who bravely live their truth. You are the ones who have and will change the world for the better. Each track honours and celebrates a Canadian woman who inspires me.” Continue reading

Was Lotta a feminist? Was she THE international development pioneer?

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

“Canada has a long-standing commitment to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in the developing world, particularly women and girls.” Justin Trudeau, Feb 4, 2018.

As we celebrate International Development Week (Feb 4 to 10, 2018), let’s give a thought to one of our pioneering women leaders, Lotta Hitschmanova, and the impact she had on her adopted country, Canada, through her humanitarian work during the 1940s to 1980s.

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.

“Development often starts with a woman. Support leadership programs for women through the USC, 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa.” Lotta Hitschmanova, 1978.

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Globe and Mail letter to the editor: “A force for humanity”

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

This wonderful testimonial about Lotta Hitschmanova was published today in the Letters section of the Globe and Mail:

Re One Man’s Continuing Quest To Honour A Humanitarian (Jan. 23): The attempts to honour Lotta Hitschmanova on a commemorative postage stamp brought back memories of how she made the Unitarian Service Committee famous in Canada in the years after the Second World War, when so many were trying to survive in brutal circumstances.

I was a high school principal and invited her to address the student body in the late 1970s on one of her cross-country fundraising tours. She was a diminutive figure in her unique uniform and I heard some of the “cool” students snicker as she headed to the stage. She soon had them eating out of her hand, and the student council voted to donate the whole proceeds of the next school dance to the USC. Dr. Lotta was a force for humanity and deserves to be commemorated.

Kerry Johnston, Toronto

Globe and Mail article: “In honour of Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova”

Have you signed the petition? Let’s put Lotta on a commemorative stamp!

Photo credit: Dave Chan/Globe and Mail

Sincere thanks to Tu Thanh Ha for his excellent article in the Globe and Mail that features Dr. Lotta Hitschmanova, her biographer Clyde Sanger, supporter Bruce Cockburn and myself.

 

He spent a decade in Tanzania, teaching, co-ordinating rural development projects and earning a master’s degree in development studies at the University of Dar es Salaam. “A lot of what Lotta said started to make sense to me,” he said.

It is nice to see the spotlight shone like this on a refugee to Canada who made such an important contribution to her adopted homeland and who connected her new society so deeply to the far corners of the globe.

My hope is that this article will stimulate many others to further explore this fascinating part of Canadian social history.

And of course, launching a campaign to have Lotta’s iconic image on a Canadian postage stamp is now front and centre for 2018!

David Rain