“I take my insulin, and then…” – Individual Canadian Legacies of Insulin

March 4, 2021

As part of the Insulin100 commemorative initiative, Defining Moments Canada is sharing the stories of Canadians who are the living embodiments of the legacy of insulin through their individual patient narratives, experiences at summer camp, and diabetes community stories.

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TORONTO, Mar. 4 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE)Defining Moments Canada/Moments Déterminants Canada is proud to present previously untold stories surrounding the national commemorative project Insulin100: Inspiration and Innovation, with support from Camp Huronda and its alumni.

In ‘A Dinner Date with Banting’, Amanda Coschi, a Camp Huronda alumnus, explains what she would tell Dr. Frederick Banting about her life with diabetes. Coschi says, “What else would I want to tell Banting since the discovery? The insulin is the first piece, the key component; it is what I need to survive. However, there is so much more to my life than that. I take my insulin and then what? The then what is what I would like to tell Banting about.” Through Coschi’s story, and the other personal reflections being shared with Defining Moments Canada by Canadians living with diabetes, the insulin story will be aptly told by people living with diabetes today. This collection of stories will demonstrate what life after a diabetes diagnosis truly means for a diverse group of Canadians. Individual reflections will speak to questions such as, ‘What does the discovery of insulin mean to them?’ and ‘What does it mean to be part of the diabetes community?’

Defining Moments Canada is dedicated to presenting previously underrepresented stories which both challenge and complement our understanding of the grand narratives of Canadian history. Throughout 2021, the Insulin100 project will be sharing historic and contemporary stories, like Coschi’s, which add new meaning to the understood significance of the discovery of insulin as a key milestone in Canadian history. This collaborative effort will share the personal stories from campers and alumni, demonstrating the tremendous impact camp can have on Canadian youth as well as the legacy of the discovery of insulin during the centennial. Camp Huronda, located in Huntsville, Ontario, is owned and operated by Diabetes Canada for children and youth living with type 1 diabetes.

Another Camp Huronda alumnus and current camp manager, Lauren Linklater walks us through her diabetes diagnosis and what taking part in camp meant to her in ‘Camp Connection’. “Being surrounded by an entire camp community of people who truly “get it” and understand the highs and lows of diabetes was lifechanging. Not having to explain anything, knowing I wouldn’t be looked at differently for having to sit on the sidelines to treat a low blood sugar, or recognizing that I could do anything my peers could – maybe with just a bit more planning – empowered me to shift my perspective of living with type 1 diabetes.” Like Coschi, Linklater’s life changed when she was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, but neither of their lives are solely defined by diabetes. As Linklater says, “While diabetes can often feel like an identifier or determining factor for aspects in someone’s life, it has also opened the door for me to see and witness the legacy of many of our camp participants and families.” Both Coschi and Linklater have gone on to work within the Camp Huronda and Diabetes Canada community – work they may not have done without their own lived experience.

Collectively, these stories will demonstrate the continued impact of diabetes on a variety of Canadian individuals and explore the truth of insulin as a life-saving treatment. Individual stories lend nuance and complexity to the historical and commemorative space, allowing for more meaningful learning both in the classroom and among a more general audience. Understanding the human impact of diabetes and insulin is integral to understanding the modern legacy of this historic moment, especially in the current COVID19 pandemic context.

Today there is better insulin, but there is still nothing better than insulin. The work to find a cure for diabetes is ongoing. The centennial of the discovery is a valuable opportunity to raise awareness around this important research and a perfect time to educate the public about what it means to be diagnosed and live with diabetes. The individual stories being shared, of life with diabetes and the incredible research being done to search for a cure will support the Diabetes360 advocacy program led by Diabetes Canada.

Our valued partners supporting Defining Moments Canada include the University of Toronto, McMaster Children and Youth University (MCYU), Novo Nordisk (Canada), Sanofi Pasteur (Canada), and Banting House National Historic Site and Diabetes Canada. This initiative is funded in part by the Government of Canada through the Ministry of Canadian Heritage Celebration and Commemoration Program. 

Diabetes Canada operates nine summer camps across Canada and 10 family camp programs, which are attended by more than 1,900 children and youth living with type 1 diabetes. Camp Huronda is the only camp facility in Canada that is owned by Diabetes Canada and the only camp that runs programming throughout the entire summer. Camp Huronda is a camp for people with type 1 diabetes that was initially founded in 1964, finding a permanent home at its current site. 2021 is a milestone year for Camp Huronda as it celebrates 50 years of helping children and youth living with type 1 diabetes. It also marks the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin.

Defining Moments Canada/Moments Déterminants Canada is a digital heritage and education company which endeavours to engage in a new and innovative way to teach and commemorate Canada’s history using twenty-first century tools and storytelling skills. It has previously carried out the national commemorations of the 1918-1920 influenza pandemic in Canada and the 75th anniversary of D-Day – ‘Juno75’. In 2020, Defining Moments Canada led 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, President
Defining Moments Canada

Amy McBride Bowen, Communications Assistant
Defining Moments Canada