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Winnipeg Celebrates Lotta’s Birthday

“It was Lotta Hitschmanova who shaped my values as a Canadian, and the type of Canada I believe in. She gave us our identity.”
Joan Baxter, Tatamagouche, NS, USC Board Director


By Ruth Pearce, First Unitarian Universalist Church of Winnipeg, Nov 24, 2013:

When the Global Outreach Committee decided to participate in the Sunday Service today, I didn’t realize that we would also be celebrating Lotta Hitschmanova’s birthday: November 28, 1909.

As many of you know, Lotta founded USC in 1945. She was widely known for her humanitarian assistance for war devastated Europe….The organization continued to evolve under her leadership and beyond – but always in accordance with her pragmatic and principled approach.

PRAGMATICALLY, Lotta recognized the importance of food as the number one requirement of humans everywhere. From the earliest years USC focused on how to produce  more and better food. As Europe  recovered and prospered, USC turned to poverty stricken southern countries, to work with them in developing food security – the basis of USC’s Seeds of Survival today. But this would be done in accordance with her strict principles.

RESPECT AND PARTNERSHIP were primary principles. USC respects the existing knowledge of farmers cultivating traditional crops; these have proven viable under often harsh conditions. USC not only partners with local people as equals, but in turn partners them with local agricultural scientists. They work together for the benefit of all – especially important in this time of climate change.

EMPOWERING  LOCAL  PEOPLE  to develop and control their own farming systems according to their own needs and resources was another principle. Lotta’s clearly stated goal was to have USC work itself out of a job as local leaders and experts emerged.

WOMEN were central to Lotta’s vision, and to USC today. Women have traditionally raised the food to feed their families, they have saved the seeds. Indeed, 70% of food is cultivated on small plots, but the important role of women has been neglected. USC has emphasized the development, education and inclusion of girls and women.

Today, USC is expanding its focus to include Canada. Support for this initiative comes from a surprising source: the W. Garfield Weston Foundation. Yes, the giant Weston Foods we are familiar with. Gretchen Bauta, Garfield Weston’s daughter, has partnered with USC, funding The Bauta Family Initiative on Canadian Seed Security. This exciting new program had an official start date of February 1, 2013, and brings USC’s concern with eco-farming home to Canada.

USC appreciates the moral and financial support of  members of this congregation – which is matched by our Manitoba government. But also consider that during this time of  financial cut-backs, government and institutional support is increasingly threatened. To learn more about USC,  visit our information table during coffee time – with your cuppa in hand.