Canadian Tire is helping to make Canadian history again

Beginning April 4th, 2022, to honour 100 years since Leonard Thompson received the first successful insulin, injection five volunteers will brave the elements and live atop a 40-foot flagpole for 100 hours to unite Canadians and raise funds for JDRF’s $100 Million Campaign to Accelerate in support of type 1 diabetes (T1D) research.

Why a flagpole? In 1990, Peter Oliver, founder of Oliver & Bonacini and Co-Chair of JDRF’s $100 Million Campaign to Accelerate, lived atop a 40-foot-tall flagpole to raise funds and awareness for T1D. Now, 32 years later, JDRF is recreating this unique event.

T1D is a chronic autoimmune condition in which insulin-producing beta cells in the pancreas are mistakenly destroyed by the body’s immune system. T1D seems to have a genetic component and can be diagnosed early in life but also in adulthood. Its causes are not fully known, and there is currently no cure. People with T1D are dependent on injected or pumped insulin to survive.

The Let’s Make History Again event is the public launch of the JDRF’s $100 Million Campaign to Accelerate and aims to raise awareness of the effects of this disease while also raising funds to support critical research. In addition, one hundred families from across Canada who are impacted by T1D, known as ‘100 Ambassador of History’, will be camping and fundraising in solidarity with the five people who are living atop the flagpoles, JDRF’s ‘Leaders in History’.

JDRF was thrilled when Canadian Tire joined the Let’s Make History Again event as the Official Gear Partner. 2022 also marks the 100th anniversary of Canadian Tire, so both of our organizations have a lot to celebrate.

“Canadian Tire Corporation is proud to be supporting JDRF and its Let’s Make History Again campaign. We are here to make life in Canada better, and that includes supporting the many people who are living with type 1 diabetes (T1D),” said Susan O’Brien, Chief Brand and Customer Officer, Canadian Tire Corporation.

Canadian Tire is providing significant funding and product support for the event, outfitting each of the Leaders in History, and their flagpole enclosures with clothing, warm bedding, camping gear and all the items they may need to be more comfortable while atop a 40-foot flagpole for 100 hours. The company is also outfitting onsite staff and volunteers with clothing to keep them warm and comfortable.

Additionally, Canadian Tire provided gift cards to each of the 100 Ambassador of History families and teams, as well as cozy and stylish toques. The cards will help the 100 Ambassadors purchase anything they need to camp, as they help raise funds for ground-breaking diabetes research.

2022 marks Canadian Tire’s 100th birthday, along with the 100th anniversary of the first successful insulin injection – two extremely significant milestones in our country’s history. Being around for 100 years – and having retail locations within a 10-minute drive of the vast majority of Canadians – has allowed Canadian Tire to become a trusted part of people’s lives.

“We are a company that prides itself on being deeply engrained in the communities we serve. From giving kids a sporting chance through Canadian Tire Jumpstart Charities, to helping Canadians face the unexpected together by providing disaster relief efforts when the unexpected happens, we’re proud to help communities across Canada recover. Knowing that a cure for T1D would truly make life in Canada better for thousands of Canadians, this is a cause we are proud to support. With the work that JDRF is doing, we are hopeful that one day Canada will find a cure,” said Susan O’Brien, Chief Brand and Customer Officer, Canadian Tire Corporation.

JDRF is incredibly grateful for Canadian Tire’s support of the Let’s Make History Again event, helping to fund the most cutting-edge research into cures for T1D.

Canadian Tire Corporation is one of Canada’s most admired and trusted companies. With world-class owned brands and exciting market-leading merchandising strategies, Canadian Tire is continually innovating with purpose: to excite and serve Canadian customers from coast-to-coast.

Additional information can be found here.

Dexcom is part of making history again

Approximately 300,000 Canadians live with type 1 diabetes (T1D), an autoimmune disease that destroys the cells in the pancreas responsible for making insulin. The discovery of the insulin hormone over 100 years ago meant the first treatment for the disease, whereas previously a diagnosis meant certain death. But a century later, it remains the only treatment.  

On April 4, 2022 to publicly launch JDRF’s $100M Campaign to Accelerate, five brave Canadians will become Leaders in History, as part of JDRF’s Let’s Make History Again fundraising event.

For 100 hours, they will live atop of a flagpole in their respective cities. The event celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first successful injection of insulin, which took place in January 1922. The goal of this flagship fundraising event is for our Leaders – along with supporters across Canada – to raise a collective $15M and get us closer to our goal of a future without T1D.

Dexcom, a longtime supporter of JDRF, once again stepped up to be an event sponsor. The significance of the 100th anniversary was particularly meaningful to the organization, which has been on the forefront of diabetes innovation with their continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) technology.  The Dexcom G6 CGM System is used by many of the event participants who have T1D.

The body is ever-changing and the factors that affect glucose levels are not necessarily predictable, including sleep, stress, hormones, physical activity, medication, other medical conditions. 

To maintain health and vitality and longevity, keeping glucose levels in range is essential – and this  requires careful monitoring to manage the delicate balance of insulin and those other factors, as they occur.  With other complementary technologies like insulin pumps and advancements with insulin, management of T1D can become easier on individuals and their families.    

How type 1 diabetes management has progressed

Evolution of insulin – People with T1D now have access to both long-acting and short-acting insulins, which can offer a little more flexibility in life.  Before these types of insulins, someone living with T1D would have to keep a repeatable routine with the same amount of insulin, activity, and same proportion of food/carbohydrates at the same time every day.

Glucose monitoring – Before finger prick tests and advanced glucose monitors, one would need to urinate on a stick and could only get a vague idea of whether their glucose was high or low. Early forms of blood glucose meters took a sample of blood, and then one would have to wait to get results – at first a few minutes and then eventually a few seconds. This could still prove difficult, especially for parents with young children. Constant finger pricks were painful, and it was challenging to get a sense of blood sugar trends or to have any idea of time in range.

Now, with glucose sensors – the user can develop a greater understanding of their own glucose trends and make more informed insulin dosing and treating decisions. This also has the benefit of helping to prevent a severe hypoglycemic event – and that is life-changing.  With remote monitoring now also possible (for parents, caregivers & others) through apps like the Dexcom Follow App, it has changed life for the entire family.

Insulin pumps – These pumps used to be approximately the size of a backpack and evolved over time along with insulin and the kind of precision engineering needed to be able to deliver small increments of doses that the individual could control. Now, they are about the size of a cell phone or even smaller, and allow the individual to fine-tune their insulin dosing more precisely for tighter control and easier corrections. With the added capability of being able to decrease or increase basal rates or extend boluses to release over time, the individual has the power to better approximate what a functioning pancreas might do.

Now, with insulin pumps that are integrated with continuous glucose monitoring sensor technology – insulin delivery can be automated to an extent. While active diabetes management is still necessary, the burden on the user is significantly less than it used to be.

In 2022, diabetes technology isn’t just better – quality of life is demonstrably improved with access to these devices. There is less wondering. One can check their glucose levels at a glance and know if it’s time for a snack or rest, or if something else is going on. And the burden on parents is significantly reduced. Before advanced glucose monitors, monitoring was reliant upon a child to track their glucose themselves with a blood glucose meter, recording results in a logbook. Now, with sensors and remote monitoring – parents can see what’s happening on their phone and intervene if necessary for a child’s safety. It improves peace of mind for the entire family. 

For people living with T1D, better disease management is now possible with less effort.  And with better control – one feels better and healthier – and this allows life to open. JDRF’s #AccessForAll campaign aims to make type 1 diabetes (T1D) technology affordable and accessible for everyone living with this disease, by working with the T1D community in their efforts to increase public and private coverage for insulin pumps and advanced glucose monitors (CGM and Flash GM).

Dexcom has always been a strong supporter of JDRF, and we serve the same community of individuals and families grappling with type 1 diabetes.  Many of the Dexcom staff themselves live with the condition, and until there’s a cure – the company aims to make things better with tools to empower people to take control of diabetes.   Research is increasingly promising, and an event like Let’s Make History Again can go a long way in getting attention for this important cause and for the T1D community.

JDRF thanks Dexcom for its significant contribution to our Let’s Make History Again event. It is with the support of important corporate partners that we can fund the most promising T1D research and get closer to our goal of a world one day free from type 1 diabetes. Until that time, advanced diabetes technology makes living with T1D day-to-day easier and better.

To learn more:

Cadillac Fairview helps to make history again

Approximately 300,000 Canadians live with type 1 diabetes (T1D), an autoimmune disease that destroys the cells in the pancreas responsible for making insulin. The discovery of the insulin hormone over 100 years ago meant the first treatment for the disease, which previously a diagnosis meant certain death. But a century later, it remains the only treatment.

On April 4, 2022 to publicly launch JDRF’s $100M Campaign to Accelerate, five brave Canadians will become Leaders in History, as part of JDRF’s Let’s Make History Again fundraising event.

For 100 hours, they will live atop of a flagpole in their respective cities. The event celebrates the 100th anniversary of the first successful injection of insulin, which took place in January 1922. The goal of this flagship fundraising event is for our Leaders – along with supporters across Canada – to raise a collective $15M and get us closer to our goal of a future without T1D.

Cadillac Fairview (CF) immediately came forward to be the event’s premier partner. We spoke to Sal Iacono, Executive Vice President of Operations at CF about supporting this year’s fundraising event.

What made CF decide to support JDRF Canada and our Let’s Make History Again event?

CF has been a longtime supporter of JDRF for the past 20 years. This year we’re taking our relationship to new heights (literally) by having four CF properties across the country be the site of this exciting, milestone event, and help JDRF raise awareness for an important cause. Together, alongside our longtime partner, Oliver & Bonacini, we are excited to make history with JDRF.

How does your support of this event tie-in to your organization’s social responsibility goals?

At CF, our Purpose of Transforming Communities for a Vibrant Tomorrow is our north star. It’s the reason we exist, and shows up in how we support our people, partners, and communities. We have a strong legacy of supporting our communities, clients and partners and the causes that are important to them to inspire meaningful change. This is a true example of extending our support to our longtime partner, Oliver & Bonacini, by mobilizing impactful change across our national workforce.

Our Leaders in History will be living atop of flagpoles on many of your properties in support of type one diabetes research this April. How have you (or will you) engage your staff team in support of CF’s involvement in LMHA?

We’re proud to support the campaign by hosting the Flagpole 100 Challenge at four CF office towers across Canada. We’ve already started teasing the event internally to excite our teams and we will encourage local CF’ers and those who have supported JDRF for years to come out and show their support in person, if it’s safe to do so.

In addition to hosting the Flagpole 100 Challenge, CF has made a $100,000 donation to JDRF, furthering our ongoing support in the fight to find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.

What would a cure for type 1 diabetes mean for Canada?

Now more than ever, health is top of mind. This would be an incredible accomplishment to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of Canadians to live without complication and empower those affected to live life to the fullest. It would also continue to inspire individuals and communities that together anything can be achieved.

JDRF thanks CF for its significant contribution to our Let’s Make History Again event. It is with the support of important corporate partners like CF that we can find the most promising T1D research and get closer to our goal of finding a cure. To learn more:

International Women’s Day 2022

Tuesday, March 8, 2022 marks International Women’s Day (IWD) around the word. For this year, the theme is #BreakTheBias. The theme challenges us to imagine a gender equal world, that is free from bias, stereotypes, and discrimination. To envision a world that is diverse, equitable, and inclusive and where difference is valued and celebrated.

JDRF is pleased to rise to the challenge by breaking the bias of science being a primarily male-led field, as we celebrate our all-women research department. JDRF is the leading charitable funder of research into cures and disease modifying therapies for type 1 diabetes (T1D). Helping to shape this research are Drs. Anne Marie MacDonald and Sarah Linklater, our National Manager of Research Programs and Communications and Chief Scientific Officer respectively.

Anne Marie MacDonald has studied throughout the world and holds an undergraduate degree in physiology from McGill University and La Sorbonne (Montreal, Canada and Paris, France), a medical degree from the Jagiellonian University Collegium Medicum (Krakow, Poland) and a Master of Science degree in cancer rehabilitation from the University of Toronto.

Fluently bilingual in English and French, Dr. MacDonald uses her background to advocate for healthy active living and chronic disease self-management. Her career has focused on what she most believes in: supporting Canadians live an active and healthy life, whether through physical activity interventions, digital behavior change programs, or public health advocacy. She lives in Oakville, ON with her husband and young daughter, and when not working she is likely swimming, biking or running, or enjoying a strong coffee with a good book.

Dr. MacDonald understands personally what it means to live with T1D, and this drives her passion for supporting the most promising diabetes research.

“It’s an exciting time in diabetes research– a lot is happening at an accelerated pace, in our very own backyard. I love science and I know type 1 diabetes (I was diagnosed over thirty years ago) and so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to work with JDRF Canada in an important research role (and on an all-female team!). Now is not the time to watch from the sidelines, and so I’m honored to be able to help the organization reach their goals,” says Dr. MacDonald.

Dr. Sarah Linklater is Chief Scientific Officer of JDRF Canada, where she leads the organization’s research strategy, funding programs and partnerships, and oversees clinical trials and research projects funded by the organization in Canada.

Before joining JDRF Canada in 2019, Sarah worked in scientific and medical publishing in the UK for 11 years, most recently as Editor-in-Chief of The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology, which she helped to launch in 2013. She obtained her PhD studying immune regulation and gene therapy approaches at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC, and at the San Raffaele Telethon Institute for Gene Therapy in Milan, Italy.

Dr. Linklater is interested in all things type 1 diabetes, access to insulin around the world, and patient-oriented research. She lives with her husband and two children in Nanaimo, BC.

“JDRF Canada is proud to count so many women among our funded researchers, and especially among our trainees, who will go on to become the next generation of Canadian leaders in T1D research. I am grateful to all of the incredible women mentors I have benefitted throughout my career – now, I’m doing my best to pay it forward. It’s such a privilege to work with JDRF! Each day, I’m motivated by the advances we are driving, the passion of our researchers, and connecting with the T1D community,” says Dr. Linklater.

It’s an exciting time in T1D research, as many new potential disease modifying therapies and cure-based studies are in clinical trials, with the goal of bringing these to market and changing the reality for people living with diabetes. Much of this research may also have impact on other chronic autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, Crohn’s disease, celiac disease and rheumatoid arthritis, and could lead to improved treatment options for type 2 diabetes.

Drs. MacDonald and Linklater are key decision-makers in determining the most promising research to fund, and JDRF is so grateful for their efforts in helping us get closer to our goal of a world free from T1D.

**** To read more about JDRF funded women researchers:

Brain Canada and JDRF fund three innovative research projects to address mental health concerns in type 1 diabetes

Last summer, Brain Canada and JDRF officially launched the JDRF Canada – Brain Canada Addressing Mental Health in Type 1 Diabetes Team Grants, a unique program that supports research on interventions that address mental health concerns in people with type 1 diabetes (T1D).

Living with a chronic illness like diabetes is hard. As a result of the burden of diabetes management, people with T1D are at an increased risk of developing mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, eating disorders, and diabetes distress, a clinically validated term describing the powerlessness, stress, guilt, relentless worry, and denial that comes with living with diabetes and the burden of self-management. We know that people with T1D who develop mental health disorders, particularly depression and diabetes distress, have a lower quality of life, have worse glycemic control (i.e., higher HbA1c), measure blood glucose less often, suffer more frequent/severe hypoglycemia and diabetic ketoacidosis episodes, and are admitted to the hospital more frequently. Conversely, resilience, empowerment, a good support network, and wellness are linked with high quality of life and health outcomes in people with T1D.

Mental health is rarely a central aspect of day-to-day diabetes management and concerns often remain unidentified or unaddressed until they become serious and challenging to manage. Although mental health interventions are known to improve quality of life and outcomes for some people with diabetes, few are regularly implemented in standard care.

The JDRF Canada – Brain Canada Addressing Mental Health in Type 1 Diabetes Team Grants provide up to $250,000 over two years to fund the development and testing of three sustainable, scalable projects which aim to improve support for people in Canada who live with T1D and are affected by mental health disorders. These strategies could translate into better quality of life and diabetes-related health outcomes for people living with T1D.

Learn more about the three projects:

Dr. Tricia Tang

Using a virtual care platform to deliver peer-led mental health support to rural and remote communities in BC: A randomized wait-list controlled trial of the REACHOUT intervention

Dr. Tang and her team at the University of British Columbia will use a virtual care platform to deliver peer-led mental health support to rural and remote communities in BC, through an intervention called REACHOUT, created with support from a previous JDRF grant.

Given the shortage of mental health professionals who are trained in T1D, adults living in rural and remote settings experience the greatest challenge accessing the services they need. This gap in health care is why BC has identified “mental health care” and “rural and remote health care services” as two of the five provincial health care priorities. Dr. Tang’s team will seek to address three challenges of BC’s diabetes care: the availability, affordability, and accessibility of mental health support for adults with T1D living in settings with limited resources.

Peer support has been demonstrated to be a low-cost and viable approach to long-term self-management support. In addition, interventions that use technology (e.g., digital health platforms) have been found to improve mental and emotional health. As such, models that draw on both peer support and digital health strategies may prove promising in reducing health care disparities.

REACHOUT is a Mobile App developed in collaboration with adults with T1D, clinical psychologists, biomedical engineers, behavioural scientists, and rural health experts. REACHOUT uses digital health technology to “drive” mental health support to people living with T1D in the greatest need. If successful, this innovative approach that seeks to reach the “hard-to-reach” can be adapted for kids, teens, adolescents, and young adults with T1D in BC and across Canada.

Dr. Peter Selby

Technology-enabled comprehensive care for young adults with type 1 diabetes (T1D) experiencing diabetes distress

Dr. Selby and his team at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Toronto are bringing experts in mental health and T1D care together with those who have lived experience of T1D to co-develop a solution for diabetes distress that is accessible and acceptable to people with T1D, their caregivers, and health care practitioners. The program is geared towards younger adults between the ages of 18 and 29, a group disproportionately vulnerable to diabetes distress. The patient voice will be central throughout the project, from developing the proposal to developing the solution.

This project adapts proven approaches to managing diabetes distress to a virtual format (using video chat, telephone calls, and text messaging) supported and directed by mental health and T1D experts, thereby capitalizing on the digital literacy of this population and increasing accessibility to treatment. Participants will be invited to participate in the program which will comprise of 8 scheduled sessions, complemented by support from a care coach and/or peers.

The evaluation of the intervention will examine both the feasibility and acceptability of the program as well as its effectiveness in reducing diabetes distress. The impact on diabetes self-care, overall blood glucose levels, and episodes of low blood glucose will also be measured.

JDRF has committed to supporting and creating a holistic framework for mental health treatment and care for all people in Canada living with T1D. Their support for this project is another step in that direction.

Dr. Marie-Eve Robinson

Teaching Adolescents with type 1 diabetes Self-compassion (TADS) to reduce diabetes distress: A randomized controlled trial

Self-compassion is a practice that involves acting the same way towards yourself as you would with friends and loved ones, and that you are kind and understanding towards yourself. Since self-compassion is a skill that can be taught, the team believes that it could be a strategy to improve mental health issues in youth with T1D, like diabetes distress.

The aim of the study is to assess the effectiveness of a mindful self-compassion program on improving the diabetes distress experienced by youth aged 12-17 years with T1D. The mindful self-compassion program will consist of weekly virtual 1.5-hour sessions/workshops for 8 weeks, led by a trained facilitator. It will cover a variety of self-compassion practices, such as dealing with difficult emotions and developing a kind inner voice. The team anticipates that symptoms of anxiety, depression, disordered eating, and suicidal ideation will be lower in the mindful self-compassion group compared to the control group. This study has the potential to lower diabetes distress, the most common mental health problem experienced by youth with T1D, by increasing their self-compassion. Ultimately, the team plans to advocate for the inclusion of such programs in standard care for youth across Canada, thereby directly impacting their mental health and blood sugar control.

The JDRF Canada – Brain Canada Addressing Mental Health in Type 1 Diabetes Team Grants have been made possible by the Canada Brain Research Fund (CBRF), an innovative arrangement between the Government of Canada (through Health Canada) and Brain Canada, and JDRF Canada.

In her own words

Christine MacGibbon: University Student, Former Dancer & Model

Diagnosed: 9 years old

Christine’s journey as a T1D warrior began 24 years ago. This was a pivotal moment for her and her family, as it had an immense emotional and physical toll.

In her personal and professional life, Christine has naturally evolved into an advocate, learning the power of knowledge as a tool to inform and ultimately transform the way we treat and manage diabetes. She believes that health is more than a physical state of being, but rather the sum of the emotional, mental, physical, spiritual, financial and social facets of one’s life.

As such, her goal to advocate with JDRF for each and every facet of diabetes in a holistic manner to enhance the quality of life and to be the light for other people living with T1D and their families.

A Letter to my younger self

Dear young Christine,

I know you’re scared and a bit confused. You’re 9 years old and the doctor said to your parents, “it’s positive” and you can feel the tears running down your face. You’ve just been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at Sick Kids Hospital and thought you can never have sugar again and will die. You feel like you did something to cause this and are to blame. There are endless needles poking you and the doctors are scary. Little do you know, the girl down the hall in the same Diabetes Education Training Program will become your best friend. Going back to school will be hard. Other kids won’t understand and think you’re making excuses when you need to take snack breaks, check your blood sugar, and miss school. You’ll feel like an outsider and due to insulin, develop earlier. You’ll be bullied, called a “Hippo” in dance class for being bigger than other girls your age. Even though the insulin pump you wear makes you feel sick and different from everyone else, it will be one of your greatest superpowers. I know you want to deny your diagnosis and crash diet because of the pressure to fit in.

At age 15, withholding your insulin to lose weight will lead to diabulimia and eventually complications such as gastroparesis, osteoporosis, kidney stones and vision impairments. Getting coverage for insulin, blood sugar strips and allied health services will be challenging. You’ll face discrimination for being on disability from health systems and workplaces. Your mental health will decline because of the self-stigma of living with diabetes (diabetes burnout). It will be hard finding mental health support due to age requirements, location and waiting lists.

You’ll eventually admit yourself to a psychiatric ward where you’ll finally learn coping mechanisms and get the therapy you need. This will be the best decision of your life and you’ll feel like the superhero you always were, afterwards. Dating is hard because of the stigma, but you will meet someone who becomes your partner-in-crime and helps you realize how beautiful you truly are. Love is a powerful thing.

I want you to know that it’s okay. You are not your disease. You are still loved and capable. As much as you get bullied for your diabetes and feel isolated, you do not have to let the “Diabetes Monster” take over your life. With great power comes great responsibility and in diabetes, insulin, eating nutritious food, and exercise gives you your superpower(s). It takes time to find out how much insulin is right for you and listen to your body. There may be bad days, but never feel like this is your fault. Take it one day at a time. Let your insulin be part of your self-care and routine. This will help you become the superhero in your own life and realize your greatest powers and potential. Get help sooner than later. Diabetes impacts everyone, including your parents and siblings. I wish I knew there were online support groups for parents and children to find a “dia-buddy” and not feel alone. It’s hard for your parents not to be overbearing at times about your diabetes, but know it comes from a place of caring. Diabetes doesn’t have to mean missing out on your childhood and there are ways you can take more control over your diabetes management, so your parents don’t have to feel so anxious 24/7.

You’re not alone and there are many supports out there to help with the physical, mental, and financial stressors of diabetes. These include the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Diabetes Canada, SickKids, The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and Mental Health Helpline. Little do you know, among the challenges you have faced on your journey with diabetes, you will rise above and find your voice through being a diabetes advocate. You will realize how powerful you really are. You will enroll in a Bachelor of Health & Society with a minor in psychology at York University and campaign for diabetes mental health supports, accessibility and disease education and prevention.

This will be quite the adventure, little one. Just remember- insulin is your ultimate superpower. Your family will always love you, and do their best to support you. And you will never be alone with your sidekick partner, allied health supports and secret alliance of diabetes superheroes cheering each other on, as we fight one diabetes monster at a time.