Announcing Insulin2021

February 17, 2020

TORONTO, Ontario – (February 17, 2020) – Defining Moments Canada/Moments Déterminants Canada, a heritage education organization, announced today its partnership with the University of Toronto, Banting House National Historic Site, and McMaster Children and Youth University (MCYU) and multiple other partners to lead the national commemorative project to celebrate the 100th Anniversary for the Discovery of Insulin over the next three years (2020-2023).

INSULIN 2021 will spotlight the stories of Canadians associated with the discovery, production and distribution of Insulin between the years 1920-1923, principally the enormous legacies of the Researchers based at University of Toronto, Connaught Laboratories, like those of Drs. Frederick Banting and Charles Best.

Drawing from extensive research and digital archives curated by The University of Toronto, SanofiPasteur (Canada) and major academic and research institutions nationwide, Defining Moments Canada will host a bilingual national commemorative project on its website to inspire young Canadians to discover the lives and contributions of those who participated in the medical discoveries and innovations 100 years ago.

“We are pleased to partner with Defining Moments Canada to tell the story of insulin, University of Toronto’s life-saving gift to the world,” said Vivek Goel, vice-president of research, innovation and strategic initiatives at the University of Toronto. “The discovery of insulin is an example of the power of research to transform lives and an inspiration for all those working to improve human health over the next century”.

The University of Toronto is a major financial partner for Insulin2021.

This initiative is funded in part by the Government of Canada through Canadian Heritage’s Celebration and Commemoration Program. With this funding, Defining Moments Canada will develop educational resources designed to guide students in the creation of commemorative projects that examine Canadian stories of medical research and innovation that built the better world we inhabit today.

“The discovery of insulin by Canadian doctors Frederick Banting and Charles Best forever changed the destiny of people living with diabetes all over the world. This landmark discovery in modern medicine earned them the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1923. Our government is proud to support Defining Moments Canada in its work to educate and raise awareness among Canadians,” said the Honourable Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage. “Highlighting the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin in 2021 will allow Canadians to learn more about this wonderful part of our history and take pride in it.”

The project will also be supported by extensive contextual research from the Banting House National Historic Site in London, Ontario. “Much like the discovery of insulin itself, commemorating an event of such national and international impact requires collaboration with a multitude of partners,” added Grant Maltman, Curator of Banting House. “…Working with Defining Moments Canada will allow us to fulfill our mission in a way we currently cannot. Their plans for a digital storytelling platform and travelling exhibition will support and enhance our own onsite and online programing, uncovering the complexities of the man Canadians think they know and revealing a man who was much like us…a spouse, parent, proud Canadian, dreamer, concerned citizen and innovator. An average Canadian whose idea changed the lives of millions.”

“At the heart of Insulin2021 are Canadian stories from towns and cities across Canada. In particular, the rich stories of the men and women who discovered Insulin and distributed it as Canada’s ‘gift to the world,” says Neil Orford, Program Leader at Defining Moments Canada. “We want students to share the stories they discover, so that we can honour these untold stories from unheard voices. Our innovative use of exciting new digital story-mapping tools will become central to the work of our educational team in producing exciting and inspiring lessons for teachers to model in classrooms across Canada. Over the next 3 years, this will make for a revolution in how Canadians understand and share their history.”

Defining Moments Canada/Moments Déterminants Canada is the shared vision of Neil Orford and Blake Heathcote, creators of a new and innovative way to teach and commemorate Canada’s history using twenty-first century digital tools and storytelling skills. It has previously carried out national commemorations of the 1918-1920 Spanish flu pandemic in Canada and the 75th anniversary of D-Day – ‘Juno75’. In 2020, Defining Moments Canada will lead the national digital commemoration for VEDay75, in partnership with Veteran’s Affairs Canada.

For more information, digital images or to set up an interview, please contact:

Neil Orford
Program Leader
Defining Moments Canada/Moments Déterminants Canada | 519-217-0402