🍁 Canadian Heroes and Heroines 

The Hon. Thérèse Casgrain played a vital role women's rights having led the women’s suffrage movement prior to WWII.   She founded the Provincial Franchise Committee in 1921, and starting in 1928 she led the League for Women’s Rights, continuing to fight for women’s right to vote in Quebec.  During the 1930’s, she hosted a radio show called “Fémina”.

The right to vote for women was finally realized in  1940 and in the 1942 federal election, she stood as an Independent Liberal candidate in the riding of Carlevoix-Saguenay.

Following WWII, she left the Liberal Party in favour of the Social Democratic Co-Operative Commonwealth Federation (CCF), becoming one of the party’s federal vice presidents in 1948.  She led the Québec wing of the Parti- Social Démocratique du Québec from 1951 to 1957 making her the first female leader of a political party in Canada's history.  She was a CCF candidate in a 1952 federal by-election and in the 1953, 1957 and 1958 federal general elections and a New Democratic Party candidate in the 1962 and 1963 federal general elections. She also used her position as a platform to campaign against the government of Maurice Duplessis.

In the 1960s, she became a campaigner against nuclear weapons, founding the Quebec wing of Voice of Women. She also was a founder of the League for Human Rights and the Fédération des femmes du Québec. In the 1960s, she was president of the Quebec wing of the New Democratic Party, the CCF's successor.

Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau appointed Casgrain to the Canadian Senate in 1970, where she sat as an independent for nine months before reaching the mandatory retirement age of 75.

In recognition of her achievements, in 1967, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada, and in 1974 she was promoted to Companion.

Thérèse Casgrain passed away in 1981 and her body was interred in the Cimetière Notre-Dame-des-Neiges in Montreal.

In 1982, the Thérèse Casgrain Volunteer Award was created by the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau and in 1985, Canada Post honoured her with a postage stamp.

Her namesake award was discontinued in 1990, under the Conservative ministry of Brian Mulroney, and was renewed in 2001 under the Liberal ministry of Jean Chrétien.  In 2004, she was commemorated on the back of the Canadian fifty-dollar bill along with The Famous Five (below).

The award was again eliminated under another Conservative regime of Stephen Harper in 2010, and was repackaged under the name "The Prime Minister's Volunteer Award".  The “Harper Government,” quickly revoked her commemoration on the $50 banknote, replacing the reverse image with that of the CCGS Amundsen, Research Icebreaker.

Source: Wikipedia

 David Suzuki
March 24, 1936

A third-generation Japanese-Canadian, Mr. Suzuki was born in Vancouver, British Columbia in 1936.  He and his family suffered internment during WWII until after the war ended in 1945 when the family moved east to Ontario.


David received his B.A. in Biology in 1958 where he first discovered the study of genetics.  He received his Ph.D. in Zoology in 1961.


He was a professor at UBC in the genetics department for almost forty years from 1963 until 2001, and has since been a professor emeritus at a university research institute.


Suzuki began in television in 1970 with the weekly children's show Suzuki on Science. In 1974, he founded the radio program Quirks and Quarks, which he also hosted on CBC AM radio (the forerunner of CBC Radio One) from 1975 to 1979. Throughout the 1970s, he also hosted Science Magazine, a weekly program geared towards an adult audience.

Since 1979, Suzuki has hosted The Nature of Things, a CBC television series that has aired in nearly fifty countries worldwide.  In this program, Suzuki's aim is to stimulate interest in the natural world, to point out threats to human well-being and wildlife habitat, and to present alternatives for achieving a more sustainable society. Suzuki has been a prominent proponent of renewable energy sources and the soft energy path.

Suzuki was the host of the critically acclaimed 1993 PBS series The Secret of Life.  His 1985 hit series, A Planet for the Taking, averaged more than 1.8 million viewers per episode and earned him a United Nations Environment Programme Medal. His perspective in this series is summed up in his statement: "We have both a sense of the importance of the wilderness and space in our culture and an attitude that it is limitless and therefore we needn't worry." He concludes with a call for a major "perceptual shift" in our relationship with nature and the wild.

Suzuki's The Sacred Balance, a book first published in 1997 and later made into a five-hour mini-series on Canadian public television, was broadcast in 2002.  Suzuki is now taking part in an advertisement campaign with the tagline "You have the power", promoting energy conservation through various household alternatives, such as the use of compact fluorescent lightbulbs.

For the Discovery Channel, Suzuki also produced "Yellowstone to Yukon: The Wildlands Project" in 1997. The conservation-biology based documentary focused on Dave Foreman's Wildlands Project, which considers how to create corridors between and buffer-zones around large wilderness reserves as a means to preserve biological diversity. Foreman developed this project after leaving Earth First! (which he co-founded) in 1990.

In recent years, Suzuki has been a forceful spokesperson on global climate change. In February 2008, he urged McGill University students to speak out against politicians who fail to act on climate change, stating "What I would challenge you to do is to put a lot of effort into trying to see whether there's a legal way of throwing our so-called leaders into jail because what they're doing is a criminal act."

Suzuki is unequivocal that climate change is a very real and pressing problem and that an "overwhelming majority of scientists" now agree that human activity is responsible. The David Suzuki Foundation website has a clear statement of this:

             ”The debate is over about whether or not climate change is real. Irrefutable evidence from around the world - including extreme weather events, record temperatures, retreating glaciers, and rising sea levels - all point to the fact climate change is happening now and at rates much faster than previously thought.

             The overwhelming majority of scientists who study climate change agree that human activity is responsible for changing the climate. The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is one of the largest bodies of international scientists ever assembled to study a scientific issue, involving more than 2,500 scientists from more than 130 countries. The IPCC has concluded that most of the warming observed during the past 50 years is attributable to human activities. Its findings have been publicly endorsed by the National Academies of Science of all G8 nations, as well as those of China, India and Brazil.

Suzuki says that despite this growing consensus, many in the public and the media seemed doubtful about the science for many years. The reason for the confusion about climate change, in Suzuki's view, was due to a well-organized campaign of disinformation about the science involved. "A very small number of critics" denies that climate change exists and that humans are the cause. These climate change “skeptics” or "deniers", Suzuki claims, tend not to be climate scientists and do not publish in peer-reviewed scientific journals but rather target the media, the general public, and policy makers. Their goal: "delaying action on climate change." According to Suzuki, the skeptics have received significant funding from coal and oil companies, including ExxonMobil. They are linked to "industry-funded lobby groups", such as the Information Council on the Environment (ICE), whose aim is to "reposition global warming as theory (not fact)."

In October 2012, referring to climate activism and reversal of human-induced climate change, Suzuki declared to Rebecca Tarbotton, "Becky, you know, we've lost."


Source: Wikipedia

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The Hon. Thérèse Casgrain
July 10, 1896
November  3, 1981

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