Officially Launched: Insulin100 – Inspiration and Innovation

November 6, 2020

Delve into a defining Canadian moment with Insulin100: Inspiration and Innovation

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Toronto, Ontario (6 November 2020) – Defining Moments Canada/Moments Déterminants Canada has officially launched our national educational project commemorating the 100th anniversary of the discovery of insulin.

100 years ago this weekend, a young Dr. Frederick Banting was meeting with the prestigious head of physiology at the University of Toronto, Dr. J.J.R. Macleod. Banting had woken up a week earlier in the middle of the night with what he believed could be a revolutionary, life-saving idea: could pancreatic secretion be isolated and purified in order to treat diabetes? Skeptical, but feeling even a failure could move the research forward, Macleod reluctantly agreed to support Banting’s research the next summer. A year later, the two men would reveal the results of months of research to the medical world. Diabetes was no longer a death sentence. Banting and Macleod, with integral support from Charles Best and James Collip, had discovered insulin. 

Defining Moments Canada and its partners, are proud to lead this three-year journey with Insulin100: Inspiration and Innovation. This national commemorative project examines the story of the uniquely Canadian and collaborative life-saving discovery and development of insulin, highlights the life of Dr. Frederick Banting as an example of a ground-breaking scientist, and encourages deeper inquiry into Canada’s rich and diverse history of scientific and medical innovations.

Insulin100 will continue to grow, adding new content to the Defining Moments Canada website within the virtual exhibit, including public health information about the syndemic impact of diabetes as well as professional development and classroom materials for educators. This commemorative opportunity is especially timely within the events of 2020, notes founder and president Neil Orford: “The discovery of Insulin 100 years ago was Canada’s ‘gift to the world’. It helped establish a firm commitment to  medical research and achievement among all Canadians in to the 21st century. Living through a global  Pandemic  has helped young Canadians in 2020 learn at the intersection of Public Health and Public Education in their schools. The legacy of Insulin Discovery  and those intrepid doctors a century ago continues to inspire  our next generation of  ground-breaking scientists.” The project will continue its commemoration until 2023, culminating at the centennial of Canada’s first Nobel Prize, awarded in 1923 to Dr. Banting and Dr. Macleod, who shared the honour with their co-discoverers, Charles Best and James Collip.

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 Canadian Heritage’s Celebration and Commemoration Program. 

Insulin100: Inspiration and Innovation is available on the Defining Moments Canada website as a virtual exhibit and includes an ‘Insulin100: The Discovery and Development’ timeline and an interactive ‘Insulin 100: Sir Frederick Banting’ story map. Defining Moments Canada has expanded its breadth of educational resources to better equip educators with the tools necessary to bring the story of the discovery of insulin into their classrooms. Defining Moments Canada’s digital archive includes teacher-created lesson plans that will enhance student driven interactions with this defining Canadian moment.  

Insulin100 showcases stories demonstrating the impact that diabetes has had on Canadian communities over the last 100 years. Before the invention of insulin, diabetes was a death sentence, and the impact of its creation has saved countless lives. Commemorating this historic moment is significant to those who have had their lives changed due to receiving insulin, and it is especially important to Canadians because insulin was invented right here in Canada. People from all over the world have travelled to pay their respects to Dr. Banting and his colleagues at The Banting House National Historic Site in London, Ontario. Banting was just one ordinary man doing extraordinary things and his legacy has left a lasting impact on Canadian society and the medical world. The journey towards a cure for diabetes is not over and that the next ground-breaking scientist is currently in our midst. Immersing students in Canadian history highlights the past while helping them to establish a path towards the future. Using previously untold and unheard stories, Defining Moments Canada is embracing new narratives and cultivating a cross-curricular appreciation of history in the minds of students so that they can engage in curatorial thinking in the classroom and beyond.

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:

Jenifer Terry, Executive Director
Defining Moments Canada

Amy McBride Bowen, Communications Assistant
Defining Moments Canada