56 SPARKS STREET.
Canadians who recall the two-channel television universe also remember often hearing and seeing these two phrases: (1) “Fight cancer with a check up and a cheque” and (2) ” 56 Sparks Street, Ottawa, Ontario.”
Both came to us through what the television people call “public service” announcements.
With mixed emotions, we report that both statements are still very much an active part of every-day Canadian life.
Yes, the fight against cancer, always with a check-up and maybe a cheque, continues. Numerous medical break-throughs over the past fifty years or so have made the word “cancer” less scary than it used to be, but it also seems more prevalent than ever.
But that could soon change.
And, it will be a young Canadian generation that just might swing the cancer fight further to the winning side. Proof of this was released earlier this month when a 16 year old Alberta high school student was awarded this year’s top prize in the Sanofi BioGENEius Challenge Canada contest.
The Canadian Press has reported that Arjun Nair of Calgary was given the honour, and a cheque for $5,000.00, earlier this month by a panel of Canadian scientists at the National Research Council’s headquarters in Ottawa.
Reportedly, Nair said after the announcement of his winning, ” I’m still in a state of shock. I’m just really, really honoured.”
Nair, in Grade 11, deeply studied a therapy that uses nanoparticles to kill cancer cells. His conclusion? Why not inject cancer patients with small bits of gold. These gold particles then would accumulate in cancer tumours, forming nano-bullets that would then be heated to kill cancer cells.
All of this is still experimental work, of course, but if and when it does come to fruition, we can thank a 16 year old Canadian for helping create a magic bullet to help cure cancer.
And then there is The Unitarian Service Committee, still headquartered at 56 Sparks Street in Ottawa, close to The Parliament Buildings. (see map)
Doctor Lotta Hitchmanova, born in Prague in 1909, came to Canada at the end of The Second World War, and is credited with starting The Unitarian Service Committee as a way to help re-build war-torn Europe. ( see slide show)
From there, the group went to work to use Canadian donations to assist less fortunate people in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Much of the Committee’s work, which continues today, is focused on helping people help themselves.
Cancer research and international assistance: still both major parts of the Canadian mosaic.