CALL FOR STORIES: Canadian individuals, communities, or institutions impacted by diabetes and/or the discovery of insulin

June 29, 2020

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Defining Moments Canada (DMC) is marking the centennial of a catalyst moment in history – the discovery of insulin – through a virtual exhibition and adjacent educational resources and outreach.  The story of insulin is the story of a uniquely Canadian and collaborative medical innovation with global consequences. Insulin changed the lives of Canadians, and had multifaceted impacts reaching beyond science and medicine into the social, economic, cultural, and political sectors.

The Insulin100 project will be DMC’s fourth major digital commemorative and educational effort, following projects commemorating the 1918-1919 Influenza Pandemic, the Canadian D-Day landings at Juno Beach, and Victory in Europe Day

We are seeking writers of all disciplines, educators, archivists, and museum professionals with stories of insulin and diabetes. Alongside an artifact-rich digital timeline describing the events culminating in global access to insulin and a story map of the life of iconic Canadian Dr. Frederick Banting, we are curating diverse microhistories of Canadian individuals, communities, and institutions which demonstrate the varied and intense reach of insulin and diabetes. Three themes offer multiple entry-points for stories, and each theme is the basis for one “room” of our virtual exhibition. 

During Summer 2020, we are especially seeking microhistories of individuals and communities that demonstrate both an immediate and long-term legacy of insulin, as outlined in the first theme below. 

Legacies: The Diverse and Personal Impact of Insulin

Without insulin, where would we be? A range of Canadian stories will demonstrate the cultural and social impact of insulin and diabetes. This theme will highlight a range of voices and perspectives that tell engaging stories about individuals and communities who experienced the impact of insulin both immediately after its discovery and over the last 100 years. We also seek to critically explore and acknowledge the causes and consequences of disproportionate rates of diabetes in specific Canadian populations.

Insulin as Inspiration: Canadian Scientific Innovation

This theme will position the discovery of insulin as a catalyst for further waves of Canadian scientific innovation in the decades that follow, as the genesis of modern Canadian research. It will also aim to ask and answer the question, “What is the value of scientific innovation to society at large?” 

Diabetes360: Syndemic Impact

Building on the themes developed by Diabetes Canada’s Diabetes360° campaign, this theme will explore the syndemic nature of diabetes: its impact is far reaching and intersectional. It will explore the reality of (living with) a diabetes diagnosis 100 years ago and up to the present, and emphasize that while we now have better insulin, there is not yet something better than insulin. 

DMC is dedicated to providing a platform for diverse voices and is eager to partner with other Canadian institutions and people to present a selection of stories over the next 2-3 years within our Insulin100 virtual exhibition. We welcome submissions from the fields of heritage and education, public health, science and medicine, economics, and public history. Contributions can include proposals for fully written pieces (article or blog post format), archival collection suggestions, or personal histories that our team can further research. Submissions can be made in French or in English. Accepted fully-crafted stories will be recognized with an honorarium.   

We are grateful to the history and science communities across Canada for their suggestions and support in developing this collection of stories. 

Defining Moments Canada is a not-for-profit organization that has worked with experts and institutions in Canada and beyond to mark milestone moments in our shared histories through digital and physical storytelling infrastructures and innovative pedagogical approaches. The Insulin100 initiative is funded and/or supported by the following partners:

Department of Canadian Heritage
Sanofi-Pasteur | NovoNordisk Canada Inc. | University of Toronto 
Huron University College | Banting House National Historic Site [Diabetes Canada]
McMaster Children and Youth University | Library and Archives Canada | Ingenium

For more information or to contribute a proposal, please contact: 

Jen Terry
Executive Director

TIME Magazine Cover featuring Frederick Banting (27 Aug 1923)