Today, Toronto History Museums launched new content for the City of Toronto HerStory program focusing on stories of powerful, change-making women past and present to celebrate International Women’s Day. This new content features Verna Patronella Johnston and Jean Lumb.
Verna Patronella Johnston was an Anishinaabe author, activist, mother, grandmother and mentor, known for her work in helping Indigenous youth adapt to life in the city. She built a strong presence in both her community of Cape Croker and Toronto. Verna had been responsible for helping hundreds of Indigenous youth come to Toronto. She gave countless talks to businesses, community groups and organizations about Indigenous culture. She was a core volunteer in the emerging days of many Indigenous organizations in Toronto.
The first Chinese Canadian woman and first restaurateur inducted into the Order of Canada, Jean Lumb, advocated for the end of immigration policies that had separated families for decades. She campaigned to end the total erasure of Toronto’s first Chinatown and played a pivotal role in challenging immigration restrictions that prevented family reunification among Chinese Canadians separated by 24 years of exclusion. She was the only woman to participate in the delegation to Prime Minister Diefenbaker. In fighting racism and advocating for the self-representation of Chinese Canadians, she fulfilled her lifelong dream of cross-cultural connections and integration into Canadian life.
Discover more about Verna Patronella Johnston and Jean Lumb at Toronto.ca/HerStory.
Toronto History Museums’ HerStory content pays tribute to incredible women whose talents, skills, determination and perseverance have woven together a more equitable future for all. HerStory also currently features Salome Bey, E. Pauline Johnson and Mary Ann Shadd Cary.
On March 24 at 7 p.m., Toronto History Museums will host HerStory, Women & Mental Health, a virtual online panel discussion with special guests Pauline Larsan (Downtown Yonge BIA); Nadine Finlay (Lakeshore Grounds Interpretive Centre); and a representative from Workman Arts in conversation about women and mental wellness followed by Q&A. Registration opens soon at Toronto.ca/HerStory.
On International Women’s Day, the City also recognizes the achievements of Toronto filmmaker Domee Shi, who today premieres her animated feature film “Turning Red” in Toronto. Domee Shi studied animation at Sheridan College, a program widely recognized as one of the best in the world, and has made Toronto the star of “Turning Red.” She won an Oscar for her animated short film “BAO” in 2018 and is now the first woman ever to direct a Pixar feature. Watch the trailer for “Turning Red.”
Today, the Toronto sign at Nathan Philips Square is lit purple in celebration of International Women’s Day and will include a flourish of red at 7 p.m. to celebrate HerStory and inspiring women like Jean Lumb, Verna Patronella Johnston and Domee Shi, who have made or are continuing to make important contributions to Toronto’s past, present and future.
International Women’s Day, observed annually on March 8, is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality. This year’s theme is Break The Bias. Learn more at InternationalWomensDay.com.
Quotes:
“HerStory celebrates women, who through their acts of courage and determination, have played extraordinary roles in creating positive change in their communities. International Women’s Day provides an opportunity to remember the ongoing struggle for gender equality in compensation, representation in business and politics, education and health, around the world and here in Toronto. I encourage all residents to experience HerStory through the Toronto History Museums.”
– Mayor John Tory
“HerStory content from the Toronto History Museums enriches Toronto’s International Women’s Day celebrations by turning the spotlight on powerful, change-making women past and present. The program provides an authentic answer to the lack of such stories in Toronto’s historical narrative.”
– Deputy Mayor Michael Thompson (Scarborough Centre), Chair of the Economic and Community Development Committee
Toronto History Museums are a group of 10 museums owned and operated by the City of Toronto that bring Toronto’s history to life for residents and visitors. They include Colborne Lodge, Fort York National Historic Site, Gibson House Museum, Mackenzie House, Market Gallery, Montgomery’s Inn, Scarborough Museum, Spadina Museum, Todmorden Mills and Zion Schoolhouse. The Toronto History Museums’ Awakenings program is the recipient of the 2021 Lieutenant Governor’s Ontario Heritage Award for Community Leadership. More information is available at Toronto.ca/Museums, or follow Toronto History Museums on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
Toronto is home to more than 2.9 million people whose diversity and experiences make this great city Canada’s leading economic engine and one of the world’s most diverse and livable cities. As the fourth largest city in North America, Toronto is a global leader in technology, finance, film, music, culture and innovation, and consistently places at the top of international rankings due to investments championed by its government, residents and businesses. For more information visit the City’s website or follow us on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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